The most distant galaxy found yet… …and it’s FAR.

English: The , atop Mauna Kea, Hawai'i

The Keck Observatory, at Mauna Kea, Hawaii 

Almost by accident, we’ve discovered the most distant intergalactic body yet; and it’s by no means close to us.

Designated z8_GND_5296, it was discovered by a combination of infrared and and deep optical telescopes by astronomers from from University of California, Riverside, in conjunction with the at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.  This was confirmed by imagery from the telescope at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

By examining the redshift of the galaxy, that is, the shift in light color produced by a moving object, similar to the doppler shift heard in a racecar as it passes by you, this shift allows astronomers and physicists to determine how fast and how far away an object is, as the shift distorts the image more and more to the infrared end of the spectrum.  With a redshift of 7.51, and knowing the distance of the intergalactic objects between us and and that galaxy, we’ve been able to extract that the galaxy is over thirty BILLION light years away; and we are seeing it today as it appeared 13.1 Billion Light Years away.

What an incredible find!  When they say our universe is a big place, they mean it!

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“Are you out there?” Maybe — but not so fast…

Image

An Asgard, from Stargate SG-1

We’ve transmitted friendship messages, we’ve sent satellites, we’ve scanned the heavens… but we’ve found no clues as to ET or Supreme Commander Thor’s wearabouts yet.  Or have we?

Think of the Internet.  When we send an email, we click “Send” and the email is broken apart into bits and bytes, going through several [if not dozens of] separate servers and paths all over the internet, until it finally arrives at the server address you designated, where it’s reassembled, and readable to the receiver.

Now, to you and me, that’s no news.  No news at all whatsoever.  But imagine intercepting just one piece of this email.  It’s broken apart from the other parts of it; and because it is, it makes no sense to anyone.  You know something is here — but what?

That could be how an advanced alien culture is communicating — but instead of using different wires and communications steams, they could be using different frequencies and technologies all at one time; just as we use several different data pipes to move our information around the world at the same time, even just in email.  We haven’t quite figured out how to map frequency spread communication past hydrogen-based frequencies, which is what we scan for the most often (programs like SETI, etc.)

Michio Kaku, my favorite theoretical physicist, likens this to an Ant, versus a superhighway.  “Imagine you’re an ant,” he says.  “You’re going about your business, doing what ants do…” and meanwhile, you have NO idea that other more complex creatures are building an eight-lane superhighway a few feet away from you.  Now, a few feet in ant-size is the equivalent of several MILES away from you.  However, one of these creatures, a human, approaches you.  He looks down at you and says “I bring you this superhighway.  I bring you the internet.  I bring you nuclear medicine.  Take me to your leader.”

Unfortunately, we have a problem here.  One, not only are you able to understand this human, but two, you have no CONCEPT of what any of this is.  Let’s assume this language barrier doesn’t exist — and that you are now the human, looking down at the ant, saying “I bring you all of this.”  How do you explain to an ANT the basics of a superhighway?  Much less, how do you explain the benefits of nuclear medicine, or the internet?  It’s mind isn’t able to understand these things.

Dr. Kaku states, which I believe, that at this point, we haven’t evolved to an understanding of how things at that level work yet.  Sure, the ants can see us, and may be aware of us… but if you were to walk up to an Ant, and say “Hello…” how could you two break that barrier — not only the language barrier, but communicate so that you both understand each other.

2700 Planets so far…

An artist's depiction of an extrasolar, Earthl...

An artist’s depiction of an extrasolar, Earthlike planet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NASA’s Kepler Observatory satellite has discovered over 2700 exoplanets so far…  and counting.  Most of these are super-earths — however, there’s a lot more there, according to the people who run it.

Ames Research Center scientists have the Observatory’s Photometer observes 145,000 Main Sequence stars simultaneously, looking for the slightest dimming of the stars that indicate an orbital body.  Of these, 114 have been actually confirmed and observed, one of them is a Mars-sized planet.

Ames also believes that, based on the observed planets, with the confirmations in mind, that the galaxy is full of Earth-sized planets.

Yale Astronomy Professor Debra Fisher, who has worked on improving the planet-detecting technology we have today to detect Earth-sized planets, says it’s only a matter of time before we detect life on other planets; specifically, those in the ‘habitable zone‘ of the stars they observe — that is, the area that’s “just right” in light and temperature, for life to flourish.

Do you think we’ll find alien life in our lifetime?

Higgs Boson: Mission Accomplished!

An example of simulated data modelled for the ...

An example of simulated data modelled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider.

It looks like the verdict is in: we’ve finally found the Higgs Boson — one of the most elusive particles; with the exception of Dark Matter, in nature.  Science has theorized of it’s existence for years, but it was always just beyond our grasp.

Today, we’ve finally confirmed the existence of what we believe is the Higgs Boson.  Last July, physicists and scientists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or known more properly by it’s French acronym CERN, announced that it’s Large Hadron Collider (or LHC) had conducted a particle acceleration test that revealed the presence of a subatomic particle that had the distinctiveness of what physicists postulated as the characteristics of the elusive particle.

Why is the Higgs so important?  So what?  In essence, the Higgs is, according to Gauge theory published in 1964, gives all conventional matter “mass.”  The average particle of matter contains mass, no matter how minuscule.  However, items of other types of matter, such as neutrinos which are able to pass right through solid matter without being interrupted, and the ever-elusive dark matter, seem not to have this subatomic particle in it’s makeup, according to the math.  Dr. Michio Kaku explains more here why the Higgs is so important.

With the numbers all working out, Science has finally [mathematically and now, via observation] proven the existence of the Higgs Boson.  How was such a feat accomplished, nearly 50 years after it’s postulation?

With the Large Hadron Collider, of course!  The largest particle accelerator on Earth, and in human history, the LHC is so large, it stretches through the border of France and Switzerland;

Large Hadron Collider

Large Hadron Collider (Photo credit: Randall Niles)

and remains one of the largest and most complex structures ever to be built by humankind.  Indeed, it’s literal atom-smashing power is in excess of 7 Tetra-electron volts (7 TeV) — or, to put it in some sort of perspective, a single visible photon of light is approximately 3.4 electron volts.  One Tetra-electron volt is 10E12, or ten to the twelfth electron volts.  Indeed, the atom-smashing power of this collider exceeded the previous most-powerful smasher by over seven times.  Some theorists postulated the idea that the LHC, at full power, had enough power to create a black hole if atoms were smashed at full intensity.  Luckily, this seems to have been proven wrong.

What has been proven right on the other hand, has effectively proven that we’re on the right track, and further, have taken another step toward understanding our universe.

What else is out there?  What more do we have to learn?  Plenty, I feel.

Samuel’s hidden love: Physics

One of my favorite passions that I don’t get a chance to get into often with others, is physics — particularly quantum physics.  I’ve had a love of what makes the universe tick since I was a kid watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and trying to wrap my head around the idea of Warp Drive.

One of my favorite theories of what makes the universe tick is “Where did we come from?  Is this all there is — is there anymore than what we see?”  We now know there is matter beyond the subatomic, particularly if you, like me subscribe to String Theory.

ImageThe Multiverse theory is the the ideology that says our universe isn’t the only one out there.  Our universe exists like a bubble in an ocean filled with other bubbles.  Each bubble has it’s own laws of physics, some are compatible with our own, others are not.  For instance, one may be a universe filled with a liquid.  Others, like ours, contain a vacuum of dark matter.  Others may be a solid mass.  Another ideology of the multiverse is the idea of parallel universes; in which all possible outcomes that can happen DO happen — in another universe.  For instance, there is the possibility YOU are the President of the United States.  Another could be where you weren’t born at all.  This is only one possible theory of the multiverse.

ImageOne of the physicists that helped bring the idea of the multiverse to the mainstream in theoretical physics is one of my favorite scientists, Dr. Michio Kaku.  Dr. Kaku is often referred to as “the man who made theoretical physics understandable for everyone.”   Indeed, as a young man, he asked his mother for permission to build a nuclear accelerator in his garage as a science fair project.  His other agreed — and he built a reactor so massive, that, once he plugged in and flipped the switch, to which the device drew so much power, that it blew EVERY fuse in the service box in their home.  A short time later, the son who blew the the service box in the house out of commission wound up getting a scholarship to Harvard; from which he graduated summa cum laude.  Today, he is the Professor of Theoretical Physics at City College of City University of New York.  In his teaching capacity, he’s delivered countless lectures on the matter, including his futurist philosophies of time travel, travel between universes, the multiverse theory itself, and the physics and technology of the future.

I love learning about what makes things work… even the [multi?]universe we all live in.