Why does time seem to move forward? It’s a riddle that’s puzzled physicists for well over a century, and they’ve come up with numerous theories to explain time’s arrow. The latest, though, suggests that while time moves forward in our universe, it may run backwards in another, mirror universe that was created on the “other side” of the Big Bang.

Two leading theories propose to explain the direction of time by way of the relatively uniform conditions of the Big Bang. At the very start, what is now the universe was homogeneously hot, so much so that matter didn’t really exist. It was all just a superheated soup. But as the universe expanded and cooled, stars, galaxies, planets, and other celestial bodies formed, birthing the universe’s irregular structure and raising its entropy.

In a mirror universe, from our perspective, time may run backwards from the Big Bang.
One theory, proposed in 2004 by Sean Carroll, now a professor at Cal Tech, and Jennifer Chen, then his graduate student, says that time moves forward because of the contrast in entropy between then and now, with an emphasis on the fact that the future universe will so much more disordered than the past. That movement toward high entropy gives time its direction.

The new theory says a low entropy early universe is inevitable because of gravity, and ultimately that’s what gives time its arrow.
To test the idea, the theory’s proponents assembled a simple model with nothing more than 1,000 particles and the physics of Newtonian gravity. Here’s Lee Billings, reporting for Scientific American:

The system’s complexity is at its lowest when all the particles come together in a densely packed cloud, a state of minimum size and maximum uniformity roughly analogous to the big bang. The team’s analysis showed that essentially every configuration of particles, regardless of their number and scale, would evolve into this low-complexity state. Thus, the sheer force of gravity sets the stage for the system’s expansion and the origin of time’s arrow, all without any delicate fine-tuning to first establish a low-entropy initial condition.

But here’s the twist: The expansion after the simulated Big Bang didn’t just happen in one direction, but two. The simple Big Bang they modeled produced two universes, one a mirror of the other. In one universe, time appears to run forwards. In the other, time runs backwards, at least from our perspective.

Here’s Billings again, interviewing lead author Julian Barbour from the University of Oxford:

“If they were complicated enough, both sides could sustain observers who would perceive time going in opposite directions. Any intelligent beings there would define their arrow of time as moving away from this central state. They would think we now live in their deepest past.”

From that perspective, maybe George Lucas’s Star Wars didn’t take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in the far future—our deepest past—of our mirror universe.

source: NOVA next
A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals.

Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.

These outlets both belong to a world of predatory journals that spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work — whatever it is — for a fee, without actually conducting peer review.
When Smolyanitsky was contacted by them, he submitted the paper, which has a totally incoherent, science-esque text written by SCIgen, a random text generator. (Example sentence: "we removed a 8-petabyte tape drive from our peer-to-peer cluster to prove provably "fuzzy" symmetries’s influence on the work of Japanese mad scientist Karthik Lakshminarayanan.")

Then, he thought up the authors, along with a nonexistent affiliation ("Belford University") for them. "I wanted first and foremost to come up with something that gives out the fake immediately," he says. "My only regret is that the second author isn't Ralph Wiggum."
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source: Vox

Forget commentaries or deleted scenes; a new special feature found within Blu-ray discs unleashes the power to harness the sun.

Researchers from Northwestern University, in a study published in the journal Nature Communications, found that the way data was written to Blu-ray discs — a high-definition format for movies, television and other video — made it perfect for improving solar cell technology. Using a Blu-ray copy of the 1992 Jackie Chan film “Police Story 3: Supercop,” the team was able to increase the efficiency of how much energy solar panels can absorb.

Solar panels perform more efficiently when sunlight is spread evenly over the cells’ surface, allowing for more equal exposure. Normally, expensive, pre-made fabrications using “quasi-random nanostructures” are used to diffuse the sunlight to achieve maximum efficiency. However, upon study, the surface of the Blu-ray disc, burned with islands and pits containing binary data — ones and zeroes — were found to be a more optimal pattern for achieving this effect.

And it’s not just Jackie Chan movies that work — imprinting solar cells with the patterns from any Blu-ray disc can increase the efficiency.

“We had a hunch that Blu-ray discs might work for improving solar cells, and, to our delight, we found the existing patterns are already very good,” said Jiaxing Huang, lead author of the study. “It’s as if electrical engineers and computer scientists developing the Blu-ray technology have been subconsciously doing our jobs, too.”

It's going to be a very special day, and it's got nothing do to with a killer deal on a plasma TV.

Behold, NASA's second annual #BlackHoleFriday!

The space agency is using the day after Thanksgiving not to tout sales and spending, but to inform the public about black holes.

Why, you ask? Because space is cool.

"A black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape. The strong gravity occurs because matter has been pressed into a tiny space. This compression can take place at the end of a star's life. Some black holes are a result of dying stars," according to NASA.

They also make for some pretty awesome pictures. Here are some of NASA's stellar posts so far.


Those landing at Dayton International Airport next year will descend from the spacious skies into the fruited plains. Thanks to aviation director Terrence Slaybaugh’s groundbreaking prairie grass program, they’ll be greeted by songbirds, wildflowers, and shoulder-high grass instead of the typical turf.

Dayton International isn’t doing it for the views. In an effort to make the airport greener, less expensive to maintain, and safer from bird strikes, the airport is turning nearly 300 acres of airport land into native prairie grasses. If a three-year trial proves environmentally and economically effective, 800 more acres may follow.

Slaybaugh has a background in urban and environmental studies. When he took the director’s chair in 2011, he immediately began looking for ways to make the airport more sustainable, applying for federal grants and rekindling a long-dormant relationship with the nearby Aullwood Audubon Society. “Frankly, we were very poor stewards of our property before this project,” Slaybaugh says. By returning swaths of airport land to their natural state, he hopes to ensure the airport’s economic and environmental future—to move forward by looking backwards.

According to Charity Krueger, Aullwood Audubon’s executive director, “prairies once covered 3% of Ohio.” That number is shrinking fast. The disappearance of the state’s prairies is detrimental to the its environmental health: the grasslands are great at detoxifying soil, retaining water runoff, and absorbing carbon, but about 95% of them have been replaced by farmland, urban development, and other CO2-spewers. Dayton International was part of the problem—in the 1990s, they leased about 1,200 of their spare acres to a farmer, who turned them into soybean and corn crops.
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Source: NOVA
The artist who created the enigmatic Kryptos, a puzzle-in-a-sculpture that has driven code breakers to distraction since it was installed 24 years ago in a courtyard at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., has decided that it is time for a new clue.

By 1999, nine years after it went up, Kryptos fans had deciphered three of the sculpture’s four messages — 865 letters punched through elegantly curved copper sheets that make up the most striking part of the work. (In fact, cryptographers at the National Security Agency cracked those messages in 1993, but kept the triumph to themselves.) The fourth and final passage, a mere 97 characters long, has thwarted thousands of followers ever since.

Jim Sanborn, the sculptor, having grown impatient with the progress of the fans and their incessant prodding for clues — and the misguided insistence by some that they had actually solved the puzzle — provided a six-letter clue to the puzzle in 2010. The 64th through 69th characters of the final panel, when deciphered, spelled out the word BERLIN.

Since then, the fans, many of whom keep up a lively online conversation, have come up empty-handed. And so Mr. Sanborn has decided to open the door a bit more with five additional letters, those in the 70th through 74th position.

They spell “clock.”

This means that the letters from positions 64 to 74 spell out two words: “Berlin clock.”
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source: NY Times
In the not-too-distant future, as the Earth warms, the heat energy that churns our atmosphere could spark even more lightning than the 8 million that strike today.

A new study published today in the journal Science suggests that we’ll see 12% more strikes for every 1˚ C of warming.
Earlier models used cloud depth to determine how likely they were to generate enough energy to produce a lightning bolt. But climate scientist David Romps and his colleagues instead looked at precipitation, humidity, and temperature measurements taken from weather balloons. Put together, this data indicates how energetic an impending storm could be, and in turn, how probable it is that lightning bolts will streak through the sky.

Here’s Andy Coghlan, writing for New Scientist:

By knowing how much water is in the clouds and how much energy is available, Romps says his model can accurately predict how many lightning bolts will get generated. Typically, he says, about 1 per cent of the potential energy picked up by water gets converted to lightning, so by knowing how much water and energy is present, the team can work out how much lightning will form.

They tested the model using real weather data from 2011, and compared the results with the data on every lightning strike in the US, collected by the National Lightning Detection Network. In simple terms, they found that it retrospectively correctly accounted for 77 per cent of that year’s ground strikes.
“When I saw that result, I thought it was too good to be true,” says Romps.

Romps and his team then applied their lightning model to 11 different climate models. In Romps’ model, lightning varies consistently with temperature and energy. Using that same math, he calculated the percent increase for every 1° C rise in global temperatures. At the extremes, some model runs even suggested that strikes could double by the year 2100.
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source: NOVA
13 November 2014 @ 01:39 am
As the Rosetta orbiter nears the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P and prepares to fire the Philae lander at its surface, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) have been puzzled by an unexpected phenomenon: the comet is ‘singing’.

Instruments designed to analyse the plasma environment surrounding 67P have recorded a low, bubbling song (listen below) though to be created by a stream of electrically charged particles released as the comet hurtles through space at 34,175mph.

“This is exciting because it is completely new to us,”“We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening.”

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source: the Independent

clip on soundcloud
note, article was from before Philae landed safely. This article just had more detailed explanation than many others I found
It has a weird shape, but that's because it's not limited to the roads. Flap the wings and fly to your will. AeroMobil 3.0 prototype shows a fully functional flying car. An idea that took more than 20 years in the making, the prototype was announced at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna.

Drive it around the road and people are sure to follow you. Not just because of the weird shape, but also because it has wings. The video demonstration shows the car being driven on roads and taken to a field, to fly. And it's all real.

It looks fairly simple. There isn't any separate flying gear. It's all part of the car. The steering wheel is equipped for both driving and flying modes. And you can even take someone with you, as the flying car is a 2 person ride. However, the prototype is not yet ready for mass production, but it's very close. Availability of such a vehicle would also require legal permission. You don't simply fly a car, you know.

Founder of the Department of Transport Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia, Stefan Klein designed the prototype. Founder Stefan Klein and CEO Juraj Vaculik believes their innovation can change personal transportation on a global scale.

What's amazing about this flying car, is that it runs on gas just like regular cars. If you want to fly, you'll need 650 feet to take off and only 164 feet to land safely. And also, maybe a pilot's license. You can fly as fast as 200 kilometers/hour, or 124 miles/hour.
Remember the Google Ara Project? Yes, the phones that you can assemble using separate blocks of hardware. Although the project has been widely discussed and once live demonstrated by Google, we haven't seen a properly working prototype, until now.

This video made by Phonebloks, shows a working prototype of an assembled phone. The functional phone is shown at the end of the video for roughly 15 seconds, where the phone is assembled and booted up to run an application. The phone is lagging, as you can see in the video, but it is still much better than the previous prototype that didn't quite work so properly (froze after starting up).

The Google Ara project is very innovation, no doubt about that. It will change the mobile market, like custom PC's did. Having a phone with hardware of your choice certainly is a great idea. It's not just more affordable, but also easier to fix. You can just change the separate blocks and upgrade specifically whatever you need.

The Spiral 1 prototype was just the beginning. As explained in the video, Toshiba made improved chips for the Spiral 2 prototype, which you can see in the video. The video demonstrates that Project Ara is currently going at a steady pace and we can expect a working model soon. The Spiral 2 prototype will be shown at the next Developers Conference, in January next year.

For those yet unfamiliar with the Google Ara Project, here's a quick introduction. The Google Ara project aims to create phone models that can be assembled with custom hardware of the user's choice. Just like custom PCs, you can pick whichever hardware you want and assemble them into the blocks to create your desired phone. This way, you can change only one component or hardware of the phone if you want. If you want to change the Camera features, you simply have to change the Camera hardware block for an improvement.