Many so-called “experts” are claiming that it’ll be a huge step forward for innovation in everything from manufacturing and transportation, to medicine and beyond. But in reality, 5G technology represents an existential threat to humanity – a “phony war” on the people who inhabit this planet we call Earth, and all in the name of “progress.”
Writing for GreenMedInfo, Claire Edwards, a former editor and trainer in intercultural writing for the United Nations (U.N.), warns that 5G might end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of the state of public health. Electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), she says, could soon become a global pandemic as a result of 5G implementation, with people developing severe health symptoms that inhibit their ability to live normal lives.
This “advanced” technology, Edwards warns, involves the use of special “laser-like beams of electromagnetic radiation,” or EMR, that are basically blasted “from banks of thousands of tiny antennas” installed all over the place, typically on towers and poles located within just a couple hundred feet of one another.
While she still worked for the U.N., Edwards tried to warn her superiors about the dangers of 5G EMR, only to have these petitions fall on deaf ears. This prompted her to contact the U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who then pushed the World Health Organization (WHO) to take a closer look into the matter – though this ended up being a dead end as well.
For more news about 5G and its threat to humanity, be sure to check out Conspiracy.news.
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Elon Musk is planning to launch 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit THIS JUNE
Edwards worries particularly about 5G implementation in space, as existing space law is so woefully inadequate that countries all around the world, including the U.S., will likely blanket the atmosphere in 5G equipment, turning our entire planet into an EMR hell.
Elon Musk of Tesla fame is one such purveyor of 5G technology who’s planning to launch an astounding 4,425 5G satellites in to Earth’s orbit by June 2019. This means that, in a matter of just a few months, 5G will be everywhere and completely inescapable.
“There are no legal limits on exposure to EMR,” Edwards writes.
“Conveniently for the telecommunications industry, there are only non-legally enforceable guidelines such as those produced by the grandly named International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which turns out to be like the Wizard of Oz, just a tiny little NGO in Germany that appoints its own members, none of whom is a medical doctor or environmental expert.”
Edwards sees 5G implementation as eventually leading to a “catastrophe for all life in Earth” in the form of “the last great extinction.” She likens it to a “biological experiment” representing the “most heinous manifestation of hubris and greed in human history.”
There’s already evidence to suggest that 5G implementation in a few select cities across the United States, including in Sacramento, California, is causing health problems for people who live near 5G equipment. At firehouses where 5G equipment was installed, for instance, firefighters are reporting things like memory problems and confusion.
Some people are also reporting reproductive issues like miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as nosebleeds and insomnia, all stemming from the presence of 5G transmitters.
Edwards encourages folks to sign The Stop 5G Appeal if they care about protecting people, animals, insects, and the planet from this impending 5G assault.
“Our newspapers are now casually popularizing the meme that human extinction would be a good thing, but when the question becomes not rhetorical but real, when it’s your life, your child, your community, your environment that is under immediate threat, can you really subscribe to such a suggestion?” Edwards asks.
Put more succinctly, academia doesn’t put a whole lot of credence in the incessant claims that some of the thousands of UFOs sighted every year are actually alien craft. But at least one scientist has recently gone on record suggesting that the clipboard-carrying crowd should be a little less sure.
That scientist is Silvano Colombano, a computer expert and roboticist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley. He was a presenter at a conference about new approaches in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) held earlier this year at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Colombano says the skeptical attitudes of most researchers might be too cramped. They could be throwing the infant out with the bath water.
He cited this example: If you approach your favorite astronomy professor and see what she has to say about interstellar rocketry, chances are she’ll roll her eyes. The energy required to accelerate an Enterprise-size starship to near the speed of light is greater than can be wrung from all the remaining fossil fuel on Earth. Fast travel between the stars is incredibly difficult (or impossible), she’ll say. So forget the idea of little gray guys piloting saucers in our airspace. Their home planet, wherever it might be, is just too far away.
But there’s an assumption here, as Colombano pointed out. Namely, that the aliens are biological, and require a fast transit between star systems to forestall dying en route. This small problem, after all, was the motive for Star Trek’s (fictional) warp drive.
However, there’s a fix for that: Get rid of intelligence that dies. Anyone who’s not a total troglodyte knows that artificial intelligence is on the way. By the end of this century, it’s possible that the smartest thing on Earth will be a machine. Since most star systems are billions of years older than our own, you can be sure that any clever inhabitants out there have long ago relegated biological brains to the history books, and are homes to very smart, and possibly very compact, thinking hardware.
As Colombano says in a new paper, “Given the fairly common presence of elements that might be involved in the origin of life… it is a reasonable assumption that life ‘as we know it’ was at least a common starting point, but our form of life and intelligence may just be a tiny first step in a continuing evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence that are far superior to our and no longer based on carbon ‘machinery.’”
Well, an obvious advantage of non-carbon machinery is that it needn’t be cursed with a short lifetime (this despite the experience you may have had with your laptop). Truly sophisticated devices can be self-repairing. Consequently, they can go great distances simply because they’re in no hurry to get to their destination.
This has a profound consequence. Earth has been trundling around the sun for more than 4 billion years. Even at the modest speed of a NASA rocket, that’s more than enough time to get to our planet from anywhere in the Milky Way Galaxy. If the passengers don’t mind spending billions of years in a middle seat, they could to it. Compact machines wouldn’t take much space, and wouldn’t groan at the long transit time.
So, what should we conclude? Clearly, it’s possible that some alien intelligence has decided to come to our solar system and check Earth off its bucket list. Doing so doesn’t violate physics. This might have happened 100 million years ago or a billion years ago, and we wouldn’t know.
But the more appealing thought for many people is that we’re being visited now. Of course, a scientist would consider such a suggestion of interest only if it could be corroborated by observation. Bright ideas are nice, but evidence rules.
So Colombano suggests that massive computers be applied to finding such evidence among the many thousands of UFO sightings. Maybe there’s a gold nugget in all those reports. As Colombano points out, if there’s something to be discovered, we won’t find it unless we look.
Ask a group of physicists and philosophers to define “space” and you will likely be stuck in a long discussion that involves deep-sounding but meaningless word combinations such as “the very fabric of space-time itself is a physical manifestation of quantum entropy concepts woven together by the universal nature of location.” On second thought, maybe you should avoid starting deep conversations between philosophers and physicists.
Is space just an infinite emptiness that underlies everything? Or is it the emptiness between things? What if space is neither of these but is a physical thing that can slosh around, like a bathtub full of water?
It turns out that the nature of space itself is one of the biggest and strangest mysteries in the universe. So get ready, because things are about to get … spacey.
Space, It’s a Thing
Like many deep questions, the question of what space is sounds like a simple one at first. But if you challenge your intuition and reexamine the question, you discover that a clear answer is hard to find.
Most people imagine that space is just the emptiness in which things happen, like a big empty warehouse or a theater stage on which the events of the universe play out. In this view, space is literally the lack of stuff. It is a void that sits there waiting to be filled, as in “I saved space for dessert” or “I found a great parking space.”
If you follow this notion, then space is something that can exist by itself without any matter to fill it. For example, if you imagine that the universe has a finite amount of matter in it, you could imagine traveling so far that you reach a point beyond which there is no more stuff and all the matter in the universe is behind you.1 You would be facing pure empty space, and beyond that, space might extend out to infinity. In this view, space is the emptiness that stretches out forever.
Could Such a Thing Exist?
That picture of space is reasonable and seems to fit with our experience. But one lesson of history is that anytime we think something is obviously true (e.g., the Earth is flat, or eating a lot of Girl Scout cookies is good for you), we should be skeptical and take a step back to examine it carefully. More than that, we should consider radically different explanations that also describe the same experience. Maybe there are theories we haven’t thought of. Or maybe there are related theories where our experience of the universe is just one weird example. Sometimes the hard part is identifying our assumptions, especially when they seem natural and straightforward.
In this case, there are other reasonable-sounding ideas for what space could be. What if space can’t exist without matter—what if it’s nothing more than the relationship between matter? In this view, you can’t have pure “empty space” because the idea of any space at all beyond the last piece of matter doesn’t make any sense. For example, you can’t measure the distance between two particles if you don’t have any particles. The concept of “space” would end when there are no more matter particles left to define it. What would be beyond that? Not empty space.
That is a pretty weird and counterintuitive way of thinking about space, especially given that we have never experienced the concept of non-space. But weird never stood in the way of physics, so keep an open mind.
Which Space Is the Place?
Which of these ideas about space is correct? Is space like an infinite void waiting to be filled? Or does it only exist in the context of matter?
It turns out that we are fairly certain that space is neither of these things. Space is definitely not an empty void and it is definitely not just a relationship between matter. We know this because we have seen space do things that fit neither of those ideas. We have observed space bend and ripple and expand.
This is the part where your brain goes, “Whaaaaat … ?”
If you are paying attention, you should be a little confused when you read the phrases “bending of space” and “expanding of space.” What could that possibly mean? How does it make any sense? If space is an idea, then it can’t be bent or expanded any more than it can be chopped into cubes and sautéed with cilantro.2 If space is our ruler for measuring the location of stuff, how do you measure the bending or expanding of space?
Good questions! The reason this idea of space bending is so confusing is that most of us grow up with a mental picture of space as an invisible backdrop in which things happen. Maybe you imagine space to be like that theater stage we mentioned before, with hard wooden planks as a floor and rigid walls on all sides. And maybe you imagine that nothing in the universe could bend that stage because this abstract frame is not part of the universe but something that contains the universe.
Unfortunately, that is where your mental picture goes wrong. To make sense of general relativity and think about modern ideas of space, you have to give up the idea of space as an abstract stage and accept that it is a physical thing. You have to imagine that space has properties and behaviors, and that it reacts to the matter in the universe. You can pinch space, squeeze it, and, yes, even fill it with cilantro.3
At this point, your brain might be sounding “what the #@#$?!?!” nonsense alarms. That is totally understandable. Prepare to bear with us, because the real craziness is yet to come. Your nonsense alarms will be exhausted by the time we’re done. But we need to unpack these concepts carefully to understand the ideas here and appreciate the truly strange and basic mysteries about space that remain unanswered.
Space Goo, You’re Swimming in It
How can space be a physical thing that ripples and bends, and what does that mean?
It means that instead of being like an empty room (a really big room) space is more like a huge blob of thick goo. Normally, things can move around in the goo without any problems, just like we can move around a room full of air without noticing all the air particles. But under certain circumstances, this goo can bend, changing the way that things move through it. It can also squish and make waves, changing the shape of the things inside it.
This goo (we’ll call it “space goo”) is not a perfect analogy for the nature of space, but it’s an analogy that helps you imagine that the space you are sitting in right now at this moment is not necessarily fixed and abstract.4 Instead, you are sitting in some concrete thing, and that thing can stretch or jiggle or distort in ways that you may not be perceiving.
Maybe a ripple of space just passed through you. Or maybe we are being stretched in an odd direction at this moment and don’t even know it. In fact, we didn’t even notice until recently that the goo did anything but sit there, goo-ing nowhere, which is why we confused it with nothingness.
So what can this space goo do? It turns out it can do a lot of weird things.
First, space can expand. Let’s think carefully for a minute about what it means for space to expand. That means things get farther apart from each other without actually moving through the goo. In our analogy, imagine that you are sitting in the goo, and suddenly the goo started growing and expanding. If you were sitting across from another person, that person would now be farther away from you without either of you having moved relative to the goo.
How could we know that the goo expanded? Wouldn’t a ruler we use to measure the goo alsoexpand? It’s true that the space between all the atoms in the ruler would expand, pulling them apart. And if our ruler was made out of extra-soft taffy, it would also expand. But if you use a rigid ruler, all of its atoms would hold on to one another tightly (with electromagnetic forces), and the ruler would stay the same length, allowing you to notice that more space was created.
And we know that space can expand because we have seen it expanding—this is how dark energy was discovered. We know that in the early universe space expanded and stretched at shocking rates, and that a similar expansion is still happening today.
We also know that space can bend. Our goo can be squished and deformed just like taffy can. We know this because in Einstein’s theory of general relativity that’s what gravity is: the bending of space.5 When something has mass, it causes the space around it to distort and change shape.
When space changes shape, things no longer move through it the way you might first imagine. Rather than moving in a straight line, a baseball passing through a blob of bent goo will curve along with it. If the goo is severely distorted by something heavy, like a bowling ball, the baseball might even move in a loop around it—the same way the moon orbits the Earth, or the Earth orbits the sun.
And this is something we can actually see with our naked eyes! Light, for example, bends its path when it passes near massive objects like our sun or giant blobs of dark matter. If gravity was just a force between objects with mass—rather than the bending of space—then it shouldn’t be able to pull on photons, which have no mass. The only way to explain how light’s path can be bent is if it’s the space itself that is bending.
Finally, we know that space can ripple. This is not too far-fetched given that we know that space can stretch and bend. But what is interesting is that the stretching and bending can propagate across our space goo; this is called a gravitational wave. If you cause a sudden distortion of space, that distortion will radiate outward like a sound wave or a ripple inside of a liquid. This kind of behavior could only happen if space has a certain physical nature to it and is not just an abstract concept or pure emptiness.
We know this rippling behavior is real because (a) general relativity predicts these ripples, and (b) we have actually sensed these ripples. Somewhere in the universe, two massive black holes were locked in a frenzied spin around each other, and as they spun, they caused huge distortions in space that radiated outward into space. Using very sensitive equipment, we detected those space ripples here on Earth.
You can think of these ripples as waves of space stretching and compressing. Actually, when a space ripple passes through, space shrinks in one direction and expands in another direction.
This Sounds Ridic-goo-lous. Are You Sure?
As crazy as it may sound that space is a thing and not just pure emptiness, this is what our experience of the universe tells us. Our experimental observations make it pretty clear that the distance between objects in space is not measured on an invisible abstract backdrop but depends on the properties of the space goo in which we all live, eat cookies, and chop cilantro.
But while thinking of space as a dynamic thing with physical properties and behaviors might explain weird phenomena like space bending and stretching, it only leads to more questions.
I doubt that any phenomenon, real or imagined, has inspired more perplexing, convoluted, and ultimately futile philosophical analysis than time travel has. (Some possible contenders, determinism and free will, are bound up anyway in the arguments over time travel.) In…READ MORE
For example, you might be tempted to say that what we used to call space should now be called physics goo (“phgoo”) but that this goo has to be in something, which we could now call space again. That would be clever, but as far as we know (which to date is not very far), the goo does not need to be in anything else. When it bends and curves, this is intrinsic bending that changes the relationships between parts of space, not the bending of the goo relative to some larger room that it fills.
But just because our space goo doesn’t need to sit inside of something else doesn’t mean that it is not sitting inside something else. Perhaps what we call space is actually sitting inside some larger “superspace.”6 And perhaps that superspace is like an infinite emptiness, but we have no idea.
Is it possible to have parts of the universe without space? In other words, if space is a goo, is it possible for there to be not-goo, or the absence of goo? The meaning of those concepts is not very clear because all of our physical laws assume the existence of space, so what laws could operate outside of space? We have no idea.
The fact is that this new understanding of space as a thing has come recently, and we are at the very beginning of understanding what space is. In many ways, we are still hobbled by our intuitive notions. These notions served us well when early men and women were hunting for game and foraging for prehistoric cilantro, but we need to break the shackles of these concepts and realize that space is very different from what we imagined.
Straight Thinking about Bent Space
If your brain is not yet hurting from all these gooey space-bending concepts, here is another mystery about space: Is space flat or curved (and if it’s curved, which way does it curve)?
These are crazy questions, but they are not that hard to ask once you accept the notion that space is malleable. If space can bend around objects with mass, could it have an overall curvature to it? It’s like asking if our goo is flat: You know that it can jiggle and deform if you push any point on it, but does it sag overall? Or does it sit perfectly straight? You can ask these questions about space, too.
Answering these questions about space would have an enormous impact on our notion of the universe. For example, if space is flat, it means that if you travel in one direction forever you could just keep going, possibly to infinity.
But if space is curved, then other interesting things might happen. If space has an overall positive curvature, then going off in one direction might actually make you loop around and come back to the same spot from the opposite direction! This is useful information if, for example, you don’t like the idea of people sneaking up behind you.
Explaining the idea of curved space is very difficult because our brains are simply not well equipped to visualize concepts like these. Why would they be? Most of our everyday experience (like evading predators or finding our keys) deals with a three-dimensional world that seems pretty fixed (although if we are ever attacked by advanced aliens that can manipulate the curvature of space, we hope we, too, can figure it out quickly).
What would it mean for space to have a curvature? One way to visualize it is to pretend for a second that we live in a two-dimensional world, like being trapped in a sheet of paper. That means we can only move in two directions. Now, if that sheet we live in lies perfectly straight, we say that our space is flat.
But if for some reason that sheet of paper is bent, then we say that the space is curved.
And there are two ways that the paper can be bent. It can all be curved in one direction (called “positive curvature”) or it can be bent in different directions like a horse saddle or a Pringles potato chip (this is called “negative curvature” or “breaking your diet”).
Here is the cool part: if we find out that space is flat everywhere, it means that the sheet of paper (space) could potentially go on forever. But if we find out that space has a positive curvature everywhere, then there’s only one shape that has positive curvature everywhere: a sphere. Or to be more technical, a spheroid (i.e., a potato). This is one way in which our universe could loop around itself. We could all be living in the three-dimensional equivalent of a potato, which means that no matter which direction you go you end up coming back around to the same spot.
In this case, it turns out that we do have an answer, which is that space does appear to be “pretty flat,” as in space is within 0.4 percent of being flat. Scientists, through two very different methods, have calculated that the curvature of space (at least the space we can see) is very nearly zero.
What are these two ways? One of the ways is by measuring triangles. An interesting thing about curvature is that triangles in a curved space don’t follow the same rules as triangles in flat space. Think back to our sheet-of-paper analogy. A triangle drawn on a flat sheet of paper is going to look different than a triangle drawn on a curved surface.
Scientists have done the equivalent of measuring triangles drawn in our three-dimensional universe by looking at a picture of the early universe and studying the spatial relationship between different points on that picture. And what they found was that the triangles they measured correspond to those of flat space.
The other way in which we know that space is basically flat is by looking at the thing that causes space to curve in the first place: the energy in the universe. According to general relativity, there is a specific amount of energy in the universe (energy density, actually) that will cause space to bend in one direction or the other. It turns out that the amount of energy density that we can measure in our universe is exactly the right amount needed to cause the space that we can see to not bend at all (within a margin of error of 0.4 percent).
Some of you might be disappointed to learn we don’t live in a cool three-dimensional cosmic potato that loops around if you go in one direction forever. Sure, who hasn’t dreamed of doing Evel Knievel–style spins around the entire universe on a rocket motorcycle? But instead of feeling disappointed by the fact that we live in a boring flat universe, you might want to be a little intrigued. Why? Because as far as we know, the fact that we live in a flat universe is a gigantic cosmic-level coincidence.
Think about it. All the mass and energy in the universe is what gives space its curvature (remember that mass and energy distort space), and if we had just a little bit more mass and energy than we have right now, space would have curved one way. And if we had just a little bit less than we have right now, space would have curved the other way. But we seem to have just the right amount to make space perfectly flat as far as we can tell. In fact, the exact amount is about five hydrogen atoms per cubic meter of space. If we had had six hydrogen atoms per cubic meter of space, or four, the entire universe would have been a lot different (curvier and sexier, but different).
And it gets stranger. Since the curvature of space affects the motion of matter, and matter affects the curvature of space, there are feedback effects. This means that if there had been just a little too much matter or not quite enough matter in the early days of the universe, so that we weren’t right at this critical density to make space flat, then it would have pushed things even farther from flat. For space to be pretty flat now means that it had to be extremely flat in the early universe, or there has to be something else keeping it flat.
This is one of the biggest mysteries about space. Not only do we not know what exactly space is, we also don’t know why it happens to be the way it is. Our knowledge in this matter appears to fall … flat.
The Shape of Space
The curvature of space is not the only thing we have deep questions about when it comes to the nature of space. Once you accept that space is not an infinite void but rather a maybe-infinite physical thing with properties, you can ask all kinds of strange questions about it. For example, what is the size and shape of space?
The size and shape of space tell us how much space there is and how it is connected to itself. You might think that since space is flat, and not shaped like a potato or a horse saddle (or a potato on a horse saddle), the idea of the size and shape of space makes no sense. After all, if space is flat, it means that it must go on forever, right? Not necessarily!
Space can be flat and infinite. Or it could be flat and have an edge to it. Or, even stranger, it could be flat and still loop around itself.
How can space have an edge? Actually, there’s no reason why space can’t have a boundary even if it is flat. For example, a disc is a flat two-dimensional surface with a smooth continuous edge. Perhaps three-dimensional space also has a boundary at some point thanks to some strange geometric property at its edges.
Even more intriguing is the possibility that space can be flat and still loop around itself. It would be like playing one of those video games (like Asteroids or Pac-Man) where if you move beyond the edge of the screen you simply appear on the other side. Space might be able to connect with itself in some way that we are not completely aware of yet. For example, wormholes are theoretical predictions of general relativity. In a wormhole, two different points in space that are far apart can be connected to each other. What if the edges of space are all connected together in a similar way? We have no idea.
Finally, you can ask whether space is actually made up of tiny discrete bits of space, like the pixels on a TV screen, or infinitely smooth, such that there are an infinite number of places you can be between two points in space?
Scientists in ancient times might not have imagined that air is made up of tiny discrete molecules. After all, air appears to be continuous. It acts to fill any volume and it has interesting dynamical properties (like wind and weather). Yet we know that all these things we love about air (how it brushes gently against your cheek in a cool summer breeze or how it keeps us from asphyxiating) are actually the combined behavior of billions of individual air molecules, not the fundamental properties of the individual molecules themselves.
The smooth space scenario would appear to make more sense to us. After all, our experience of moving through space is that we glide through it in an easy, continuous way. We don’t jump from pixel to pixel in a jerky fashion the way a video-game character does when it moves across the screen.
Or do we?
Given our current understanding of the universe, it would actually be more surprising if space turned out to be infinitely smooth. That’s because we know that everything else is quantized. Matter is quantized, energy is quantized, forces are quantized, Girl Scout cookies are quantized. Moreover, quantum physics suggests that there might be a smallest distance that even makes sense, which is about 10−35 meters.7 So from a quantum mechanical perspective, it would make sense if space was quantized. But, again, we really have no idea.
But having no idea hasn’t stopped physicists from imagining crazy possibilities! If space is quantized, that means that when we move across space we are actually jumping from small little locations to other small little locations. In this view, space is a network of connected nodes, like the stations in a subway system. Each node represents a location, and the connections between nodes represent the relationships between these locations (i.e., which one is next to which other one). This is different from the idea that space is just the relationship between matter, because these nodes of space can be empty and still exist.
Interestingly enough, these nodes would not need to sit inside a larger space or framework. They could just … be. In this scenario, what we call space would just be the relationships between the nodes, and all the particles in the universe would just be properties of this space rather than elements in it. For example, they might be vibrational modes of these nodes.
This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. The current theory of particles is based on quantum fields that fill all of space. A field just means there is a number, or a value, associated with every point in that space. In this view, particles are just excited states of these fields. So we are not too far from this kind of theory already.
By the way, physicists love this type of idea, where something that seems fundamental to us (like space) comes out accidentally from something deeper. It gives them the sense that we have peeked behind the curtain to discover a deeper layer of reality. Some even suspect that the relationships between nodes of space are formed by the quantum entanglement of particles, but this is mathematical speculation by a bunch of overcaffeinated theorists.
The Mysteries of Space
If you have read this far and either understood it deeply or just turned your nonsense alarm to mute, then we should not hesitate to explore the craziest concept about space (yes, it gets crazier).
If space is a physical thing—not a backdrop or frame—with dynamic properties such as twists and ripples, perhaps even built out of quantized bits of space, then we have to wonder: What else can space do?
Like air, perhaps it has different states and phases. Under extreme conditions, maybe it can arrange itself in very unexpected ways or have weird unexpected properties in the same way that air behaves differently whether it’s in liquid, gas, or solid form. Perhaps the space we know and love and occupy (sometimes more than we’d like) is only one rare type of space and there are other types of space out there in the universe just waiting for us to figure out how to create and manipulate them.
The most intriguing tool we have to answer this question is the fact that space is distorted by mass and energy. In order to understand what space is and what it can do, our best bet is to push it to extremes by looking carefully at places where cosmically huge masses are squeezing and straining it: black holes. If we could explore near black holes, we might see space shredded and chopped in ways that cause our nonsense alarms to explode.
And the exciting thing is that we are closer than ever to being able to probe these extreme deformations of space. Whereas before we were deaf to the ripples of gravitational waves moving through the universe, we now have the ability to listen in to the cosmic events that are shaking and disturbing the goo of space. Perhaps in the near future we will understand more about the exact nature of space and get at these deep questions that are literally all around us.
So don’t space out. And save some space in your brain for the answers.
Jorge Cham is the creator of the popular online comic Piled Higher and Deeper, also known as PHD Comics. He earned his Ph.D. in robotics at Stanford.
Daniel Whiteson is a professor of experimental physics at the University of California, Irvine, and a fellow of the American Physical Society. He conducts research using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
For years now, NASA has been puzzled by a mysterious effect of extended space flight: vision damage. Many, though not all, astronauts who have been in space for months at a time experienced their vision slowly degrading, and post-flight inspection revealed that the back of their eyeballs had been squished down and flattened over the course of their trip.
But new research presented this week provides a partial answer to what’s causing this condition: pressurized spinal fluid. Noam Alperin, a researcher at the University of Miami’s Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, presented findings from research he and his peers conducted on 16 astronauts, measuring the volume of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in their heads before and after spaceflight. CSF floats around the brain and spine, cushioning it and protecting your brain as you move, such as when you stand up after lying down.
Alperin and his team found that astronauts who had been in space for extended trips (about six months) had much higher build up of CSF in the socket around the eye than astronauts who had only gone on short stints (about two weeks). They also designed a new imaging technique to measure exactly how “flat” the astronauts eyeballs had become after extended periods in space.
The idea is that, without the assistance of gravity, the fluid isn’t pulled down and evenly distributed, allowing it to pool in the eye cavity and build up pressure, which slowly starts to warp the eye and cause the vision damage, called visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome (VIIP). It’s likely some people are more predisposed to this than others, perhaps due to the shape of their skulls, which would explain why some astronauts have not experienced VIIP. But Alperin said his findings suggest anybody could get VIIP if they’re in space for a long enough period of time.
“We saw structural changes in the eye globe only in the long-duration group,” Alperin told me over the phone. “And these changes were associated with increased volumes of the CSF. Our conclusion was that the CSF was playing a major role in the formation of the problem.”
The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Alperin told me the manuscript was recently accepted and will be published shortly. And these reported findings align with what scientists already suspected about the condition, according to Scott M. Smith, the manager of NASA’s Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, who’s been studying the vision loss issue for the last six years.
“I think this fits very well within what others seem to be thinking at the moment,” Smith told me.
Many astronauts—though, importantly, not all—have experienced this unexplained reduction in eyesight after spending months on the International Space Station, some dropping from perfect 20/20 vision to 20/100 in just six months. Researchers have been gravely concerned about this effect. With plans to send humans to Mars by the 2030s, a mission that would require nine months of space flight one way, we don’t really want to risk all of our astronauts going blind in the process.
“NASA ranks human health risks and the two top risks are radiation and vision issues,” Smith said. “Is it number one or two? Some people would say it’s number one, because we don’t really know what the long-term implications are.”
But the better we understand how VIIP occurs, the more likely we are to be able to create a solution. Smith’s team is currently conducting a clinical trial to investigate whether polycystic ovarian syndrome—which, despite its name, may indeed occur in men—could have similar effects on vision. This research could help explain who is more likely to experience VIIP, as research like Alperin’s explores the physical functions of the condition.
What a solution to the condition will look like depends what else we learn: it could be a medication, or a mechanical device to help redistribute fluid, or something else entirely. But each piece to the puzzle helps us get one step closer to sending humans to Mars, and not blinding them in the process.
“Precise and dexterous robotics, able to work with a communications delay, could be used in spaceflight and ground missions to Mars and elsewhere for hazardous and complicated tasks, which will be crucial to support our astronauts,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, in a press release. “NASA and our partners are confident the public will rise to this challenge and are excited to see what innovative technologies will be produced.”
ROBOTS. IN. SPACE.
Artificially intelligent robots capable of assisting human astronauts could become invaluable as we continue to push the boundaries of space exploration. Unlike current robots that must be controlled by human operators, autonomous humanoid robots would be able to work independently. They could be sent on missions prior to human astronauts deploying, remain behind to look after equipment, and generally free up crew members to do more complex and less dangerous work.
While expanding humankind’s knowledge of space is a reward in and of itself, the million dollar prize for the team that wins NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge is great additional motivation for MIT’s team to make sure its bot comes out on top.
NASAastronautScott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are halfway through theyear they are spending aboard the InternationalSpace Station. This is a NASA chart with some fun facts about what astronauts will experience.
Astronaut Kellysaid: “I think the legacy of this mission will be based on the science of having us in space for a year. The great data we collected, what we learned about being in space for this long and how that will help our journey to Mars someday.”
This is to help scientists better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space for extreme lengths of time.
Featuring the voice of acting great Billy Dee Williams, follow along with this real-life space odyssey, searching for answers that will one day put human footprints on Mars and beyond.
WATCH THE VIDEO. URL: https://youtu.be/BWbqTdj5hRg
Three new super-Earths “unlike anything in our solar system” have been observed close to us, just 54 light years away. The scientists were aided by an advanced automated robotic telescope – a technology expected to yield much more in the coming years.
Let’s not pack our bags yet though – the three celestial bodies actually perform much more daring orbits around their host star than even our Mercury, taking 5, 12 and 24 days respectively. And we all know what happened to Mercury because of its close proximity to the Sun.
“The three planets are unlike anything in our solar system, with masses 7-8 times the mass of Earth and orbits that take them very close to their host star,” Berkeley graduate Lauren Weiss said.
The above findings are presented in the Astrophysical Journal.
Although one planet was discovered back in 2009, only now have the scientists at universities in California, Hawaii, Arizona and Tennessee compiled a workable map of the neighborhood, where all three orbit their host star HD 7924. As with previously-discovered potentially habitable worlds, scientists measured the wobble in light caused by the bodies passing in front of their sun, which allowed them to estimate the size and trajectory of the bodies. To achieve this they used the Automated Planet Finder (APF) Telescope at Lick Observatory in California, the W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaii, and the Automatic Photometric Telescope (APT) at the Fairborn Observatory in Arizona.
The news APF facility is lauded by scientists for speeding up the process of planet-finding substantially. This is due to the observatory’s dedicated facility, armed with robotic technologies. The tools can work all night without human oversight and don’t ever get tired.
“This level of automation is a game-changer in astronomy,” astronomer Andrew Howard, based in Hawaii, said. “It’s a bit like owning a driverless car that goes planet shopping.”
Following one of the discoveries in 2009, a further five years of exploring followed. Then the APF Telescope came into play and completed the picture of the particular galactic neighborhood in a matter of a year-and-a-half.
“We initially used APF like a regular telescope, staying up all night searching star to star. But the idea of letting a computer take the graveyard shift was more appealing after months of little sleep. So we wrote software to replace ourselves with a robot,” BJ Fulton, a graduate at the University of Hawaii, was cited as saying.
One may remember the ground-breaking announcement of the Kepler program, which first brought to fruition the concept of measuring the changes in a star’s glow, as possible planets passed in front. Well, the APF continues the job with flying colors. Because, unlike Kepler’s thousands of Earth-like planets found all across the Milky Way, the APF’s discoveries are dramatically close to our own neighborhood.
Scientists on the project are very optimistic about a more thorough analysis of that sector in the near future and anticipate new discoveries.
These robotic observations are just the start of a new search campaign, which is part of Fulton’s doctoral dissertation. The new wave of robotic planet research will become a systematic survey of nearby stars in its own right. Two new Hawaiian facilities dedicated to this are currently being built. The APF is here to stay.
A NASA scientist and a renowned graphic artist have teamed up to produce designs for a vessel that may someday allow human beings to travel the universe and beyond in a first-of-its-kind warp drive spacecraft faster than light.
Impressive illustrations of the work-in-progress — NASA’s New Design for a Warp Drive Ship” — made their way to the web this week while NASA researcher Harold White and Dutch artist Mark Rademaker continue to fine-tune the concept behind a type of craft that may actually be able to travel faster than the speed of light.
White, a physicist for the aeronautics administration that has been studying a faster-than-light propulsion concept for years, has previously gone public with his research concerning a craft capable of that sort of travel. As far back as 2011, in fact, he attracted the attention of other scientists by publishing a report that set out to prove the feasibility of the F-T-L propulsion concept. Now for the first time, his cohort has come up with designs that begin to show the sort of spacecraft they’re striving to create.
Rademaker, who has in the past been known to produce graphics inspired by the Star Trek television series, told NBC News that he has been studying the research White has been doing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and felt determined to come up with a viable concept worth showing the public.
“I could have walked away, but I wanted this to be really good, so I put in an extra three months of spare time, with the new images as the result,” Rademaker NBC in an email.
In a matter of one day this week, Rademaker said, copies of the designs posted on his Flickr account garnered more than two million views.
And true to the Star Trek concept, the team says the latest blueprints are for a spacecraft they’ve dubbed the “Enterprise.”
“My own designs for the most part followed these guidelines. I do put research in things like era, events in the Trek timeline, plausible registry numbers and specifications of a ship. I put about three months of research in theXCV-330Ringship that Matt Jefferies sketched in the 1960s. I was asked to convert that sketch/blueprint as a 3D CGI model, I wanted it to look spot on,” the artist told CNET.
Speaking to io9, Rademaker said his latest design “includes a sleek ship nestled at the center of two enormous rings, which create the warp bubble” that would, in theory, make White’s F-T-L propulsion plan possible.
“Essentially, the empty space behind a starship would be made to expand rapidly, pushing the craft in a forward direction — passengers would perceive it as movement despite the complete lack of acceleration,”io9’s George Dvorsky added in his report.
“White speculates that such a drive could result in ‘speeds’ that could take a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in a mere two weeks — even though the system is 4.3 light-years away.”
“Perhaps a Star Trek experience within our lifetime is not such a remote possibility,” White said previously of his plans.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has found an Earth-sized planet within the habitable zone of the star it orbits, the space agency announced Thursday.
The planet, which NASA calls Kepler-186f, is located in the constellation Cygnus, about 500 light-years from Earth. Kepler-186f orbits the star Kepler-186 once every 130 days and receives one-third of the energy from that star than Earth does from the sun, NASA said in astatement. The amount of energy Kepler-186f receives at noon is similar to what Earth receives an hour before sunset, which places the newly discovered planet at the outer edge of the habitable zone.
NASA defines the habitable zone as“the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.”Being in the habitable zone, however, does not guarantee that life is possible, just that it could be.
“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,”Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published in the journal Science, said in the NASA statement.“Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”
Kepler-186 is located near the bright star Deneb, which is one of the defining stars of the Cygnus constellation, according to the French blog Around the Sky. It is classified as an M dwarf (also known as a red dwarf) star, which means it is smaller and dimmer than the sun, NASA said. This particular star is about half the size and mass of Earth’s sun. M dwarfs make up approximately 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way.
Image Credit: NASA Ames / SETI Institute / JPL-Caltech
“The host star, Kepler 186, is an M1-type dwarf star which means it will burn hydrogen forever, so there is ample opportunity to develop life around this particular star and because it has just the right orbital period water may exist in a liquid phase on this planet,”said Notre Dame astrophysicist Justin R. Crepp in Science Codex.
There is much that is unknown about the Kepler-186f planet, including its mass and composition, though the researches posit that the planet is likely to be rocky. NASA does know that the planet is less than ten percent larger than Earth.
“The Kepler space telescope infers the existence of a planet by the amount of starlight blocked when it passes in front of its star. From these data, a planet’s radius, orbital period and the amount of energy [received] from the host star can be determined,”NASA said.
“Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has,”Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames and co-author of the paper, said in the NASA press release.“Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.”
The Kepler telescope launched in 2009 with the goal of searching about 150,000 target stars for planets transiting (passing by) the telescope at least three times over the course of up to three years, Reuters reports. Researchers pore through archived data from Kepler to find planets that could be in the habitable zone, which is nicknamed the “Goldilocks Zone.”
“It’s very challenging to find Earth analogs,”Barclay said to Reuters.“Most candidates don’t pan out, but things change as we get more measurements.”
NASA says the next step is to look for true Earth-twins and to measure their chemical compositions. Kepler-186f will also be a target for future telescopes in the hopes of measuring its chemical composition, Reuters reports.