Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

When fundamental constants change over space — rethinking physics as we know it [JENAM 2010 Press Release]

Lisbon, 6 September 2010: New research suggests that the supposedly invariant fine-structure constant, which characterises the strength of the electromagnetic force, varies from place to place throughout the Universe. The finding could mean rethinking the fundaments of our current knowledge of physics. These results will be presented tomorrow during the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, and the scientific article has been submitted to the Physical Review Letters Journal.

A team of astronomers led by John Webb from the University of New South Wales, Australia, have obtained new data by studying quasars, which are very distant galaxies hosting an active black hole in their centre. As the light emitted by quasars travels throughout the cosmos, part of it is absorbed by a variety of atoms present in interstellar clouds, providing astronomers with a natural laboratory to test the laws of physics billions of light-years away from the Earth.

Webb’s results imply that the fine-structure constant, which characterises the strength of the electromagnetic force, might have different values depending on which direction we are looking in the sky, thus being not so ‘constant’ after all.

 “The precision of astrophysical measurements of the fine-structure constant, or alpha, dramatically increased about a decade ago when Victor Flambaum and I introduced the ´Many-Multiplet Method´, and since then evidence started mounting, suggesting this crucial physical quantity might not be the same everywhere in the Universe” says Webb.

The results obtained by Webb’s team suggest that if there is any time-variation, it may be much less than the variation with position in the Universe.  If correct, the new data indicates that new physics will be required to explain something so fundamental. The implications of these results are so resounding that they are likely to cause controversy in the scientific community.

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Happy LXXX Neil!

On this same day, year 1930, Neil Armstrong, American astronaut, the first human to set foot on another astronomical body, was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio.


One day, from the shores of a new world,

we’ll gaze at the sea that took us there.

And its waves will be stars.

Endless Worlds Beckon

“I’ve sometimes wondered”, Enoch said, “if the stars are other suns, might there not be other planets and other people, too”…

“You believe that?” asked the stranger.

Enoch said, “It was just an idle notion.”

“Not so idle,” said the stranger. “There are other planets and there are other people. I am one of them.”

Clifford D. Simak, Way Station (1963)

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SETI SuperStar Award

This blog has won February’s SETI SuperAward, but, somehow I didn’t know it until today…maybe I wasn’t pointing in the proper direction to pick up the signal so far…

As stated on the site, the “SETI SuperStar Award carries with it no cash honorarium or any other consideration. Appropriate recognition is the sole prize.” but for me represents a lot, represents above all that people are enjoying the work done here.

And what does this mean?
That we should work harder!

Let’s not keep the pace, let’s improve it!

An heartfelt O-B-R-I-G-A-D-O! to the fantastic crew of collaborators.

Rui Borges

Добро пожаловать на борт, доктор Зайцев!*

Beyond the Cradle as the pleasure of counting with the collaboration of someone who’s career has been has diversified as recognized. That someone is Dr. Alexander Zaitzev, Chief Scientist of the Radio Engineering and Electronics Institute, Russian Academy of Science, who was kind enough to share his time and vision with BtC readers.

To know more about Dr. Zaitzev’s work please visit the Collaborators page, in the meanwhile stay with the words he adressed to the readers.

*Welcome aboard Dr. Zaitzev!


My Vision of SETI and METI Missions

In a distant, primeval, medieval past, Mankind lived with both their feet on a flat Earth,
considered, dogmatically, to be the center of the Universe, and we, people of the world, at the mercy of gods, were alone in the vastness of space and time.

Time made us earn the knowing that Earth is not the center of the Universe, neither our Sun, not even our galaxy…

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Sagan Medal for Steve Squyres