At a press conference on March 17, 2014, the BICEP2 Collaboration presented measurements of B-mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background. These measurements represent the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation and the first direct image of primordial gravitational waves. Press conference participants were the leader of BICEP2, John M. Kovac (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford/SLAC), Jamie Bock (Caltech/JPL), Clem Pryke (University of Minnesota), and Marc Kamionkowski (Johns Hopkins University).
Press release: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2014-05
Collaboration website: http://www.bicepkeck.org/
Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises Professor Andrei Linde with evidence that supports cosmic inflation theory. The discovery, made by Kuo and his colleagues at the BICEP2 experiment, represents the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.”
Producer: Bjorn Carey
Video: Kurt Hickman
Photo credit: NASA
'Oldest star' found from iron fingerprint
As the Big Bang’s name suggests, the universe burst into formation from an immense explosion, creating a vast soup of particles. Gigantic clouds of primordial soup, made mainly of hydrogen and helium, eventually collapsed to form the first stars—massive, luminous, short-lived objects that exploded as supernovae soon after. In the wake of such explosions, gas clouds gave rise to a second generation of stars that telescopes can still pick out today.
Scientists have thought that the first stars in the universe burst with tremendous energy, spewing out the first heavy elements, such as carbon, iron, and oxygen. But according to new research from MIT, not all of these first stars may have been forceful exploders.
The team has identified a distant star several thousand light-years away—named SMSS J031300.36-670839.3—that contains a level of iron whose upper limit is so low that it suggests that the star is a second-generation star, having arisen from the gas cloud enriched by one of the very first stars in the universe. But because there is so little iron in the star, the researchers say the star’s progenitor must not have been very energetic, as it may have failed to expel all the heavy elements made in its own core.
A team led by astronomers at The Australian National University has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe, which formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
The Cosmos on Canvas
Steve Gildea’s paintings are part space journey, part whimsical dream. Just the kind of thing I need today. And every day.
Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, photographed on the day of his death, April 18, 1955.
BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS
A brief history of microscopy by i-heart-histo
The Chinese use water microscopes made of a lens and a water filled tube to better visualize smaller objects.
Hans Jansen and his son Zacharias Jansen invent the compound microscope.
Galileo Galilei develops a compound microscope with a convex and concave lens. Calling it the occhiolino - the little eye.
The term ‘microscope’ is coined by Giovanni Faber of Bamberg, an anology with the word ‘telescope’
Robert Hooke publishes Micrographia and coins the word ‘cell’ after his examination of cork bark.
Anton van Leuwenhoek develops the compound microscope to optimize it for observing biological specimens.
Ernst Abbe discovers the Abbe sine condition for manipulating the axis of optical systems to improving sharpess of images. This breakthrough in microscope design was exploited by microscope manufacturers Zeiss and Leitz resulting in a microscope boom.
Olympus manufacture their first microscope - the Asahi.
The Olympus DF Biological Microscope becomes the first microscope to feature an attached light source rather than a mirror that reflects light on the specimen.
The popular CH series of Olympus microscopes appear in universities and colleges around the world. Chances are your college still uses these lab teaching scopes (or the slightly newer CH2 version).
Introduction of a unique Y-shaped design for the microscope body for enhancing optics.
Confocal and virtual microscopy are now common place.
Fighting the scourge of mental illness means giving psychiatry the kind of boost that physics got from the Higgs hunt
(Image: Andrzej Krauze)
The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 1:32 pm EDT on May 3, 2013. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation.
Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, and the radio blackout for this flare has already subsided.
This flare is classified as an M5.7-class flare. M-class flares are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth.
Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, as the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013.