WHRC scientists have counseled the State Department on policies that could control permafrost thaw, including reducing global carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and deforestation, and limiting emissions of ‘black carbon,’ sooty particles that darken snow and ice and hasten Arctic warming. —> Read More
Astrophysicists have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth. The discovery of two supermassive black holes — one larger one and a second, smaller one — are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive black holes assemble their masses through violent mergers. —> Read More
It’s been 40 years since
This is not Hawking’s first announcement that he solved his own paradox: he had several previous announcements that, in the end, did not convince. I believe the same fate will befall his current attempt.
The paper that created the paradox and put the physics community in turmoil was submitted for publication August 25th, 1975 (but it took a year to be published due to its controversial nature). Hawking argued that the radiation effect that he had just discovered (and that bears his name), leads to the ultimate evaporation of black holes, and violates one of our most cherished laws of physics, namely time-reversal invariance. This law, which states that all microscopic processes can in principle run forwards just as well as backward, implies the predictability of the future (as well as our ability to understand the past).
The contradiction with the laws of physics that Hawking noted was quickly termed the “information paradox”, because the loss of predictability can be seen to be a consequence of losing the information that fell into the black hole in the past.
During these last 40 years, physicists have not stood idly by: not a year goes by without a plethora of attempts to resolve the contradiction. Now Hawking announced, during the “Hawking Radiation Conference” at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm that he had figured out how to solve the paradox, and that information is in fact not lost to the universe, just badly scrambled.
Hawking in his talk described a meeting in April of this year, where he had heard fellow theoretical physicist Andrew Strominger (also in attendance in Stockholm) talk about his recent work that showed how gravity waves (the stuff —> Read More
The headline in the New York Times reads “Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis Underscores Government’s Disarray.” It seems that the Lebanese government is unable to collect and dispose of the garbage in Beirut and the waste is piling up across the city.
Garbage smells bad, and in the heat of summer, with wafts of rotting meat and vegetables blowing across the city, it is hardly surprising that the citizens of Beirut are getting very frustrated at the lack of leadership.
The government of Lebanon is dysfunctional but the resulting and increasingly strident “You Stink” protests have, thus far, had little effect. Obviously this can’t continue for much longer before a serious health problem emerges and compounds the pain.
To me, the situation in Lebanon is analogous to the global political dysfunction that prevents serious solutions to climate change. Some time in the not too distant future, the NYT will plausibly carry a headline to the effect, “Global Greenhouse Gas Crisis Underscores Governments’ Disarray” (only, I hope it will be pithier).
In preparing a short “TED talk” type lecture for the upcoming Positive Economy conference in France, I gathered some slides from the recent National Academy of Science report on geoengineering climate. I sat on the panel that issued the two reports. There were two because there are two “solutions” for continued, unabated burning of fossil fuels. And if you really need to know — we aren’t running out of fossil fuels anytime soon — at least not for a century.
The first solution is to take the carbon dioxide out of the stack gases of (mostly) coal-fired power plants, or if not there, then directly from the air. Both solutions are expensive and would add a cost to the price —> Read More
Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.
The popular line in research is that single people are less happy and healthy than their coupled counterparts. But more and more people — over half of the US population, in fact — are spending an increasing amount of their lives single, whether it’s because they delayed marriage, got divorced or simply didn’t want to couple off. Are these partner-free folks doomed to a life of misery? Obviously no. More and more research is showing that coupledom doesn’t suit everyone — relationships have plenty of perks, but they also come with their own unique conflicts and stresses that single people don’t have to deal with.
A new study out of the University of Auckland in New Zealand provides some insight into how the single life affects different types of people’s well-being. Turns out, having a romantic partner isn’t the be-all and end-all of happiness.
Researchers conducted two studies to see the short- and long-term effects of relationship status on well-being. For the first one, they gathered 187 undergraduate students ranging from 19 to 54 years old. Participants indicated whether they were “involved in a romantic relationship” and, if so, how serious that relationship was.
They then completed pre-established measures to see if they were high in avoidance goals (meaning: avoiding negative relationship experiences, like conflict and rejection, motivated them) or high in approach goals (meaning: they were motivated by the possibility of good things happening, so they approached relationships optimistically). Finally, participants rated how much they agreed with the statements —> Read More
Guy Baker of England’s Marine Biological Association tells the story of a postcard his group recently received. It was addressed to George Parker Bidder — the MBA’s esteemed former president, dead for more than 60 years — and had been found in a bottle dropped in the North Sea more than a century earlier.
Watch Boeing test radical new ‘silent strike’ laser weapon small enough to fit in a suitcase but powerful enough to blast a drone out of the air
The Compact Laser Weapon System can be assembled in 15 minutes, and then destroy targets from up to 22 miles away with an an energy beam of up to 10 kilowatts. —> Read More
An international team of astrophysicists and astronomers, led by Dr Youjun Lu of the National Astronomical Observatories of China, has found a supermassive pair of black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth. The discovery of two black holes – one larger one and a second, smaller one – is evidence of a [...] —> Read More
Why men find thinner women attractive: Scientists say ‘evolutionary fitness’ makes slimmer females more appealing
Men find thinner women attractive because they associate their body shape with youth, fertility and a lower risk of disease, according to a study by the University of Aberdeen. —> Read More
Given two choices of attractive mates, female frogs pick the top vocalist. But add a third, inferior male to the mix, and females go for No. 2. The “decoy effect” shapes some human choices, too.