Is the Universe a Holographic Projection?

Luke and Obi-Wan look at a 3D hologram of Leia projected by R2D2 (Star Wars)

Luke and Obi-Wan look at a 3D hologram of Leia projected by R2D2 (Star Wars)

Could our cosmos be a projection from the edge of the observable Universe?

Sounds like a silly question, but scientists are seriously taking on this idea. As it happens, a gravitational wave detector in Germany is turning up null results on the gravitational wave detection front (no surprises there), but it may have discovered something even more fundamental than a ripple in space-time. The spurious noise being detected at the GEO600 experiment has foxed physicists for some time. However, a particle physicist from the accelerator facility Fermilab has stepped in with his suspicion that the GEO600 “noise” may not be just annoying static, it might be the quantum structure of space-time itself
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Naming Pluto: A Review

Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)

Naming Pluto, the story of Venetia Phair (© Father Films)

When my copy of the “Naming Pluto” DVD arrived in the post, I was very excited. However, this wasn’t the original plan.

Only a few days earlier, the short film was being aired down the road at the Los Angeles Femme Festival in Beverly Hills and the film’s writer, producer and director Ginita Jimenez had invited me along. Alas, I couldn’t be there (really frustrating as you know how much I love premiers!), so Ginita kindly posted a copy to me.

I had little idea about the history of the naming of Pluto (and I only had a general knowledge about how and when it was discovered), so I was looking forward to being educated as well as entertained.

Fortunately, I had the night to myself to watch Naming Pluto and take notes for a future review of the short film (just posted on the Universe Today). So I dimmed the lights and started the DVD. For the next 13 minutes, I didn’t write a word
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Twitter Journalism: Methane on Mars, The Signature of Life?

The distribution of atmospheric methane originating from three principal regions on the Martian surface (NASA)

The distribution of atmospheric methane originating from three principal regions on the Martian surface (NASA)

Today, NASA held a press conference detailing some significant discoveries from observations made of the Martian atmosphere. Using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility and Keck Telescope, scientists from the University of Hawaii and NASA were able to deduce the spectroscopic fingerprint of methane. Although scientists have known for a long time that methane exists in the Martian atmosphere, the big news is that there is lots of it, it appears to be constantly replenished and it is a huge indicator of biological processes under the surface.

Fortunately, I was able to watch the NASA TV broadcast of the press conference at 11am (PST), so I thought I’d try, for the first time, to do some live microblogging of the announcements using Twitter. So, rather than going into vast detail about today’s methane news (as the web has exploded with articles on the subject anyway), I thought I’d publish my Twitter feed during the conference
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Astroengine Live #7: Beer, Beer and Cutting-Edge Cosmology

I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry...

I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry...

I wasn’t actually going to mention the whole space beer thing again, heaven knows I’ve been banging on about that enough! But I just stumbled across a website advertising a film that will be made called “Beer Drinkers in Space”. (Sign me up!) There’s little information about it, but it appears to be based on a 1980’s original movie of the same name. The blog has recently announced that “Beer Drinkers in Space is readying for a March shoot in Orlando, Florida. The movie, starring Christopher Atkins and James Hong, will be directed by Iake Eisenmann.” I wonder if they need a space beer science advisor? Hmmm…

Anyhow, today’s Astroengine Live will include an airing of my 10-minute-long podcast for the 365 Days of Astronomy that aired last week (about, you guessed it, “The Link Between Beer and Space Settlement”), a behind-the-scenes look at the AAS conference last week in Long Beach (about, you guessed it, drinking free space beer), and something about magnetars, colliding black holes and hot neutron stars. Oh yes, and a run-down of the Carnival of Space. It’s going to be awesome.

Show starts at 4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, 7pm EST… and midnight GMT!

Get Involved!

Have any articles or stories you want to contribute? Have an opinion on anything in the world of space? Email me on astro@wprtradio.com and I’ll be sure to give it a mention. Eventually, I hope to have telephone call-ins, but for now, email will do.

Listen to Astroengine Live using the Paranormal Radio player.

Check out Paranormal Radio’s live streaming vidcast, Captain Jack will be airing my show on his website too.

Oh No! Rocket Launches Are Bad for the Environment? We’d Better Stay at Home Then

A small environmental impact, Falcon 1 launches in September 2008 (SpaceX)

A small environmental impact, Falcon 1 launches in September 2008 (SpaceX)

For every article written about the amazing advances in space vehicle technology, there are two negative comments about the pointlessness of space exploration.What’s the point?“, “We have war, famine, poverty and human suffering around the world, why invest billions on space?“, “What’s space exploration ever done for me?“. However, today, after I wrote a pretty innocuous article about the awesome SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being hoisted vertically on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, I get a comment (anonymous, naturally) starting off with, “This launch and others like it should be halted indefinitely until it’s carbon footprint and environmental impact can be accounted for.” The commenter then goes into something about making an environmental assessment, levying SpaceX’s taxes and setting up a board of environmental scientists. Oh please.

On the one hand, I’m impressed by this person’s spirited stand against environmental damage, carbon emissions and global warming, but on the other, this is probably one of the most misplaced environmentalism attacks I have seen to date. There are extremists on both sides of the “green” debate, but the last thing we need is an attack against the only answer we have to fight climate change. And that answer comes in the form of a cigar shaped polluter, blasting into Earth orbit; whether you like it or not, it is a necessary (yet small) evil…
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Magnetars Born Through Quark Star Switch?

Could quark stars be magnetar progenitors? (© Mark Garlick)

Could quark stars be magnetar progenitors? (© Mark Garlick*)

If you thought neutron stars and magnetars were exotic, think again. In studies of magnetars that occasionally blink to life, generating an intense blast of X-rays and gamma-rays, astronomers have been at a loss to explain why these objects have such strong magnetic fields. After all, after a supernova, a neutron star remnant conserves the angular momentum and magnetic field of the parent massive star; it is therefore a rapidly spinning, magnetically dominant entity, often observed emitting intense radiation from its poles (a.k.a. a pulsar).

However, magnetars (the most magnetically powerful objects observed in the Universe) do not have such a reasonable explanation for their magnetic field, it is simply too strong.

During the AAS conference last week, one scientist presented his research, possibly indicating another state of matter may be at play. A massive neutron star may pass through a “quark star phase”, kick starting a mechanism known as colour ferromagnetism

*This image is copyright Mark A. Garlick and has been used with permission. Please do not use this image in any way whatsoever without first contacting the artist.
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