Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Giant Storm On Mars

In the past few hours an immense storm, thousands of kilometres across, has developed on the surface of Mars. The best photos come from "amateur" astronomer Paul Maxson of Arizona. In the upper RGB image, it appears as a red spot Northeast of the planet's centre (white on the infrared image). In the lower set of photos, taken June 26, the storm has quadrupled in area. The storm is being monitored by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. Presently the storm is less than 900 km East of the Opportunity Rover, which is exploring Meridiani Planum.

The weather is certainly on our minds today! Storms on Mars are immense. A big one observed in 2001 engulfed the entire planet in dust. The red Martian soil is very likely similiar to that of Hawaii. Like the lunar regolith, it is highly abrasive and gets into everything. NASA, your manned Mars hardware had better be able to deal with this. Mine can.

Today the Planetary Society hosts the new Carnival of Space!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Endeavour Flies Again

Here's one way to watch your planet's climate! It's not the iPhone, but here's a bit of what this blogger has been working on. The climate display shows temperature, humidity, location, date and time. Putting barometric pressure here was considered, but that fits better on the navigation display along with altitude. Spacecraft displays should be graphical and easy to read.

The next Progress resupply mission to ISS has been rescheduled from August to July to bring replacements for the computers that crashed during Atlantis' mission. Launch of STS-118 has been moved up two days from August 9 to August 7. This will be the first flight of Endeavour since 2002. Since then she has received major upgrades including flat panel displays like this one and her own GPS navigation system.

Endeavour was built in the 1980's to replace Challenger. The three remaining shuttles are very precious, for today the parts do not exist to build another even if you wanted to. Captain Cook's Endeavour was the ultimate spare part, built from a converted collier. Perhaps someone will recognise where these parts came from. It is amazing what one can accomplish by hacking existing hardware and re-adapting it for a new function.

Endeavour's crew pose in training versions of their launch and entry suits. James Cook had a continual problem with islanders, who had never seen metal before, stealing nails from his boats. Humans love shiny things! Hopefully you will like the final product.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer In Limbo

Now that Atlantis has safely returned to Earth, she only has two scheduled missions left. Her last flight, STS-125, is scheduled for September 10, 2008. That will be the servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. As part of the mission a docking adapter will be installed, making future servicing missions by Orion possible. Refurbishing HST was nearly cancelled, but was saved by support from both scientists and the public.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is designed to be attached to ISS. It incorporates superconducting magnets to detect cosmic rays striking Earth. It may find the signatures of antimatter in the early Universe. A Space Station is an unprecedented platform for such observations. AMS is a collaboration of 16 countries who have spent 1.5 billion US on the project. It is the most important physics experiment planned for ISS.

Though they strike Earth constantly, relatively little is known about cosmic rays. These particles reach energies far higher than any human accelerator can achieve. The highest energy cosmic rays, nicknamed "Oh My God" particles, have energies far greater than physics can explain. These particles may have originated at a time near the Big Bang. Their immense energies are one more indicator that the speed of light has slowed.

Nearly everyone has experienced the power of a thunderstorm. We are taught in school that lightning originates from static discharges within storm clouds. What triggers those discharges is unknown. The tracks of cosmic rays, striking and scattering particles in the atmosphere, are very similiar to lightning. Some researchers have suggested that cosmic rays are the cause of lightning! Since cosmic rays fall nearly steadily across Earth's surface, that is a hypothesis that needs to be tested. If cosmic rays cause lightning, that is one more example of how our lives are intimately entwined with Space.

The AMS is nearly completed and sitting in a clean room. Unfortunately, with the shuttle program scheduled to end in 2010, there is no longer a flight scheduled to take AMS into Space. Alternatives have been studied, but adapting the experiment to another spacecraft would cost hundreds of millions. Grounding the experiment would be a major disappointment for scientists and international partners. Physicists have not given up; the experiment is still scheduled to be received by NASA in 2008 and prepared for flight.

There are one, possibly two hopes left. NASA has allowed two "contingency" flights to ISS in case something goes wrong with a scheduled mission. If these flights are not used up, one of them could be used to orbit AMS. More ISS missions are a good thing, for they allow more supplies and crew changes. This may mean extending the shuttle program past 2010, but with all the delays that may happen anyway.

Adding a flight will also narrow the "gap" between shuttle retirement and the first Orion flights. If shuttle is retired in 2010 and Orion does not fly until 2013 (2014? 2016?) it will be the longest gap in US human spaceflight since 1975-81. During that period ISS would be completely dependent on Russian spacecraft. We can only hope that private spacecraft can help fill the gap.

Just as scientists and the public successfully lobbied to repair Hubble, now is the time to start lobbying for AMS. As before, NASA may examine alternatives before concluding that a shuttle mission is needed. This is a very important experiment that international partners have already paid for. Leaving AMS on the ground would remove one scientific justification for ISS. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer deserves to fly.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hole In Earth Gets Bigger

Just over year ago, from atop a Balinese volcano,Here Be Dragons started advocating that Black Holes could exist inside stars, planets, and even Earth:

"There have been several mysteries about the planet we live on. What causes Earth's internal heat, which has persisted for billions of years? What powers the "dynamo" of planetary magnetic fields? How could the planets coalesce from an orbiting disk of gas? If particles collide at orbital velocities they will not stick together unless they have the mass of mountains. The answer lies not in geology, but in cosmology.

"The Big Bang created billions upon billions of Black Holes. They formed from quantum fluctuations grown large by expansion of the Universe. They are the largest component of mass in the Universe, surrounding the galaxies with invisible haloes. Our own solar system contains hundreds of these tiny holes, and we have been ignorant of their existence.

"When the solar system was but a disk of gas, a number of singularities started orbiting in the disk. One of these objects was smaller than a proton, yet weighed as much as a mountain. Larger particles were attracted and stuck to it. The singularity was far too tiny to eat everything up, but the small amount that was swallowed made the rest grow red hot. Eventually a ball of rock formed with a hot centre. This was the birth of a planet.

"The singularity in Earth's core has the diameter of a grain of sand, and the mass of a moon. It has been giving off radiation for billions of years. The heat generated causes volcanoes to erupt, creates the continents, and forms hydrocarbons in Earth's interior. Our life and this planet would not exist without it. Even the petrol that fills your tank may be the byproduct of a small Black Hole!

"This singularity spins independently within Earth's core. By dragging part of the iron core along, it spins the "dynamo" generating a magnetic field. That is why Earth's magnetic poles are not aligned with the geographic poles, and why this field sometimes changes direction. Venus has no magnetic field because its core does not spin. Mercury has a magnetic field and is here predicted to have vulcanism, which our MESSENGER spacecraft will discover in 2011."

The bit about 2011 was wrong, for just last month observations confirmed that Mercury is Hot!

Now the Hole in the Earth is generating heat online. In a paper entitled Singular Sources of Energy in Stars and Planets someone named Zhilyaev argues for Black Holes inside stars and planets. Does he enjoy this blog? For some reason the idea has been missing from arxiv, but it has been spread in conference papers and elsewhere. It is good news that more people are getting the idea.

(All this science has created technology that could someday save lives. Today the environmental sensors were re-assembled in a smaller, cleaner package. This has led to some ideas for improving the navigational system, which means that expensive new parts must be ordered in a hurry. This is a very exciting time.)

The new Carnival of Space is here!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Spacecraft Is Taking Shape

ISS photographed by a departing Atlantis on June 19. The two spacecraft parted ways somewhere over the Coral Sea. With installation of the last truss and deployment of its solar arrays, the station is finally assuming its shape. Turning on the solar arrays was not without problems; it somehow caused the computers to crash. They were reportedly rebooted via a bypass of the surge protectors, a very risky step. A planned Progress flight in August may be moved to July 23 to bring updated computers.

Space stations have been in people's dreams since the beginning of the rocket age. Wehrner Von Braun pubished designs for an orbiting wheel in the 1950's, which inspired 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. In 1983 President Reagan proposed Space Station Freedom, involving the US with Japan and European partners. Station was intended to be a steppingstone toward the Moon and planets.

During Clinton's administration the space station was very nearly cancelled. It was revived with Russian participation as Space Station Alpha. Political justification for the project went from staying ahead of Russia to fostering cooperation with them. To allow servicing from Russian spaceports, the orbit was moved to a high inclination. This made ISS useless as a fuel stop for the Moon or Mars. From its launch site in Florida, shuttle Atlantis needed 2 days to catch up with ISS. Problems in Russia delayed the launch of the first modules, but Russian assistance was invaluable after Columbia.

The project's usefulness for science has always been doubted. Originally ISS was designed for a crew of 8, but the 8-person rescue vehicle was cancelled because of budget. Crew size is limited to three using Soyuz as an escape pod, like Expedition Six. That is barely enough people to keep the station clean, much less do a lot of science. There is still room for valuable experiments, particularly the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Currently AMS is sitting in a clean room, its future uncertain. Amazingly ISS has survived all these hurdles.

Station is already invaluable for research on long-duration flights. Construction experience will be valuable for any large objects to be built in Space. From visions of orbiting wheels, real space stations have evolved to resemble dragonflies. The delicate network of solar panels and radiating fins has been called beautiful. It is certainly satisfying to see a big project near completion.

(On my own Space project, the parts are also being assembled. Like ISS, this was a pile of raw materiels and ideas for a years. Presently some very late nights are spent integrating the life support system and electronics. It is hard to describe how it looks, but it is quite pleasing to the eyes. This may be the only example of the technology in existence. It may change the way humans visualise spaceflight.)

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Dark Galaxy

This blog has always emphasised that there is more in the Universe than meets the eye. Theory predicts, and observations confirm that baryonic matter is only 4.507034% of the total mass. Flying over a city at night, the lights we see are just a hint of what lies beneath. The matter we see is only a small fraction of what is out there.

Object VIRGOH121 was first noticed in 2000 by its influence on a nearby galaxy. NGC 4254 has a huge stream of matter torn from its side. It must have suffered a collision with an object of 100 billion solar masses. When the most powerful telescopes looked in this region they saw nothing. VIRGOH121 contains no stars. Only by its radio emissions was it located.

When this research was first published, the astronomy community was very skeptical. Alternative theories were cooked up to explain the observations. Perhaps they invoked some sort of "dark energy." Now, 7 years after first publication, there is conclusive evidence that VIRGOH121 is a dark galaxy. It is entirely made up of dark mass, which could be Black Holes.

We are fortunate to have found VIRGOH121 because of its collision with a visible galaxy. There could be many, many more dark galaxies out there. If the dark mass is composed of Black Holes, they would have formed shortly after the Big Bang and never have been matter. Dark mass could be everywhere, even within our solar neighbourhood.

The next time you look up at the stars, try to imagine a parallel Universe occupting the same Space/Time. this Universe is hidden from our eyes, yet contains 20 times as much mass. Interactions with this dark mass created galaxies, stars and even planets. Our understanding of the Universe is just beginning.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Tethys and Dione Are Hot Too!

When this blog was starting last June, it predicted that Saturn's moons contained unseen sources of energy. Back in 2005 we saw Enceladus emitting a plume of ions from a source at its South pole. It was already known that Titan creates methane requiring an internal energy source. The June 14 issue of Nature reports that Tethys and Dione (pictured) also emit charged particles! Old theories can not explain why all these moons give off heat.

Saturn's moons and Rings contain conditions similiar to our Solar System's formation. Formation of planets was triggered when primordial singularities collided with orbiting gas. Tiny Black Holes were the seeds of planets and some moons. The singularities are still there, giving off radiation that warms the cores of these tiny moons. They also are resposible for the many clumps and gaps in the Rings.

Without replenishment, Saturn's Rings would decay within 100 million years. Then we would face the anthropic question of why they exist at just the right time for humans to view them. Thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, we have witnessed the E Ring being resupplied from Enceladus. This observation suggests that other, unseen satellites maintain the Rings. You heard it here first!

More on ions: New work suggests that Mars once had oceans. Back in 2000 analysis of a 1.2 billion year old Martian meteorite showed water-soluble ions like those from an ancient ocean. The Nahkla meteorite, which landed in Egypt during 1911, contained ions of sodium and chloride, just like the salt in seawater.

In the June 15 issue of SCIENCE, planet discoverer Michael Brown and grad student Emily Schaller report that dwarf planet 2003 UB313, now known as Eris, has a mass 27% greater than Pluto. The solar system is an exciting place. Dr. Pamela Gay is hosting this week's Carnival of Space.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Per Ardua Ad Astra

This week is the one-year anniversary of this little blog. Thanks to the hundreds of people who visit every single day! This month will also see unveiling of technology that will make spaceflight safer, easier and more comfortable. More excitement coming soon!

EADS is Europe's dominant aerospace company and builder of the Ariane boosters. At the paris Air Show, their Astrium division announced a project to build a commercial spaceplane. It will take off from commercial airports (De Gaulle? Honolulu?) carrying passengers 100 kilometres into Space. The design is very similiar to the Piaggio P 180 business aircraft (below).

EADS has joined a competition that includes Virgin Galactic, Benson Aerospace, Rocketplane Kistler and many others. Developing the vehicle will cost in excess of a billion dollars. Given EADS' ability to sink large amounts of money into a project (like the A-380) this one stands a good chance of flying. Perhaps EADS Astrium recognises a growing market.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stepping Out

NASA has decided to try repairing the loose flap on Atlantis' thermal blanket. This will be done on a fourth EVA that has just been added to the three for ISS construction. Engineers on the ground are busy testing various repair scenarios. Every Shuttle mission carries at least two EVA spacesuits, called Extravehicular Mobility Units. Three EMU's are kept onboard ISS, in addition to Russian suits.

The EMU's are composed of individual parts that are assembled to fit each spacewalker. NASA is currently down to just 12 functioning portable life support systems. The EMU is simply too big to fit onboard Orion. At the end of the Shuttle program several EMU's will be kept permanently on ISS until they wear out. Museums are concerned that there may not be shuttle-era spacesuits left on Earth to display.

An Orion mission will need up to six EVA suits because Orion will have no airlock. If one person needs to go out, the entire crew must suit up and depressurise the ship. Where will they keep six EVA suits? Has anyone factored a ton of spacesuits in the weight of a 10-ton spacecraft? That will be in addition to the suits crews will wear for launch and landing. NASA wants a single suit system for Low Earth Orbit Access and EVA's, but so far the contractor community has fallen short. You're Going Out in That?

Thank the crews' bravery, for the Space Transportation System is in a fragile state. Atlantis' flight was delayed three months because the external tank was damaged by a hailstorm. Falling foam from the tank doomed Columbia and its crew. The tiles of the TPS frequently fall off--whose idea was it to cover a spacecraft with tiles? NASA is returning to the old Apollo solutions with Orion. Future Space hardware should be built tougher.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

M81 in Three Bands

Atlantis lifted off at 7:38 PM EST on a planned 11-day mission. These are old spacecraft, which makes one concerned for the crew's safety. Like the 1960's families who gathered around the TV set for every launch, we will ignore the media's fixation on suicide bombing heiresses and watch 7 people try to make a difference. I will delay my announcement about spaceflight until after they have returned safely.

A shuttle has many thousands of parts, any one of which could fail. The engines are pressurised via 24 spherical tanks filled with helium or nitrogen. The tanks are made of metal wrapped in kevlar, and must contain pressures up to 4600 psi. Failure of one of the tanks would be catastrophic. In 1988 the tanks were certified for an additional 10 years use. Since then the tanks' manufacturer has gone out of business. Two more flights to go for Atlantis, whose last flight will be the Hubble servicing mission scheduled for September 10, 2008.

One more three-colour picture for the week. Galaxy M81 in Ursa Major seen in infrared by the Spitzer Space Telescope (red), in visible light by Hubble (white) and in ultraviolet by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer. The youngest stars, seen in blue, line the galaxy's edges while older stars cluster near the centre. Interstellar dust appears in red. Hidden even from these eyes is a halo of "dark" mass, detectable only by its gravitational influence.

At the centre of this and every other galaxy is a supermassive Black Hole. Singularities were formed from quantum fluctuations shortly after the Big Bang. Giant Black Holes formed the seeds of clusters, galaxies and even smaller structures. Smaller Black Holes were attracted by the big ones and formed haloes around the galaxies. The matter we see is only a fraction of what is out there.

Check out the new Carnival of Space!

UPDATE: As this is published, a 3.5 inch hole has been found in Atlantis' thermal blanket. The fault has been judged to be non-critical and the mission goes on.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Holes in Mars and Beyond

What could this be? Everyone in physics learns about blackbody radiation. A blackbody absorbs all radiation falling upon it. It gives off radiation in a characteristic spectrum depending upon its temperature. Blackbody radiation convinced a conservative physicist named Max Planck to theorise that light is made up of quanta. The cosmic microwave background is radiation with temperature 2.7 K. It provides convincing evidence that the Universe began in a hotter denser state.

The most perfect blackbody would be a deep cavity. A perfect example may have been discovered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This strange feature northeast of the volcano Arsia Mons is 100 meters across. It has been interpreted as a very deep hole or cavern entrance. The Mars Odyssey spacecraft has found 7 similiar features elsewhere on Mars. They can be located by their characteristic blackbody radiation.

These cavities don't look like meteor or volcanic craters. The closest Earth analog is the cenote of Chichen Itza. Cenotes in the Yucatan were formed by subsurface water, which began with the meteor that ended the age of dinoasurs. They lead to a vast underground river system and even contain skeletons! Sheltered from radiation and temperature extremes, the Martian holes could be abodes of life.

Elsewhere, astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea have discovered the most distant Black Hole yet found. This object in the constellation Pisces is estimated to be 13 billion light years away. It dates from less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang, and has the mass of 500 million Suns! Scientists are at a loss to explain how it grew so big so soon. As Stephen Hawking showed in the 1970's, Black Holes are not completely Black. They also give off blackbody radiation related to their temperature. Radiation from a central Black Hole would explain the heat source of many objects, including Earth.

As we saw just last week in Black Holes Beyond Imagination, wherever we look in the early Universe we find supermassive Black Holes. They are far too young to have formed from collpasing stars, and too big to have formed from mergers of smaller objects. Increasing evidence suggests that they are primordial, formed shortly after the Big Bang. Size of a primordial singularity is limited by a "horizon distance" of light travel. Supermassive primordial Black Holes are one more indication of a changing speed of light.

UPDATE: The ISDC edition of Carnival of Space is up!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Genie Has Left the Bottle

Today's Cassini photo was taken from a distance of 1.58 million kilometres by the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIRMS). In the 2.3 microns (blue) reflected light from the Rings predominates. At 3.0 microns (green) Saturn herself reflects the most sunlight. At 5.1 microns we see that an immense amount of heat comes from deep within the planet. The wide range of latitudes for this radiation suggests a heat source in the planet's core, like an internal singularity.

Kea has an update on the controversy about VSL, or a Variable Speed of Light. Recently George Ellis offered a critique, and Motl echoed some of his statements. The latter referred to a "VSL Industry" growing up. Once completely out of consideration, this shows that a changing speed of light is now a subject of discussion. When an idea shows promise, others want on the bandwagon.

Someone also took time to dismiss some VSL theories as ad hoc. Though he has commented on GM=tc^3 before, this time he took particular pain to leave it out of the criticism. This fellow is not so bad, and most of his comments have been positive. It is not enough to say that c changes, for people have speculated about that since at least 1875. Just as gravity is needed to explain planetary orbits, some principle must predict a changing c.

Space and Time are equivalent. Scale R of the Universe is separation from a "Big Bang" singularity, age t multiplied by c. Gravitation then requires that GM=tc^3. When t was tiny, c was enormous and the Universe expanded like a Bang. As t increases that expansion slows due to gravitation. A child could figure this out, and the idea is slowly winning.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Under the Banyan Tree

Walking through Waikiki, it is difficult finding interesting forms of life. Elephants and Komodo dragons live in the Honolulu Zoo, but they are not natives. Exploring a banyan tree's roots is like a child's dream. It is easy to see why many cultures consider banyans magical. In Hinduism the banyan represents eternal life. It is part of Indonesia's coat of arms--one tree with many roots. In the Philippines banyans are said to house dwarves and magical creatures--perhaps that is how Yoda got started. Even Robinson Crusoe made his home on a banyan tree.

As we have seen in a Redwood Cathedral, growing outward toward Space is as natural as an expanding Universe. From today's Honolulu Advertiser: The legislature passed Senate Bill 907, authorising funds for a state Space office. Already our Big Island has telescopes and volcanoes powered by a Black Hole First priority is a Pacific International Space Centre for Exploration. PISCES would have analog sites similiar to those operated by the Mars Society.

Despite its reputation as a green tropical paradise, Hawaii has many terrains resembling the Moon or Mars. To see those, you must get out of Waikiki! Our basaltic soil is extremely similiar to another planet, even the red colour. PISCES would be a place where astronauts and their equipment could be tested and trained. The first PISCES conference will be November 7-10 in Hilo. The Naniloa resort sits among the many trees of "Banyan Alley." Before that starts, I hope to be testing gear on Hawaii.

Rocketplane Kistler has made noises about staging Space tourism out of Hawaii. We already have the tourists. Wandering in Waikiki today one sees advertisements for helicopter, sail, whale, scuba, snuba and submarine tours. Adding spaceflight to the resort menu would not be a big stretch. Imagine calling the concierge for a trip into Space!

At the Chelsea Flower Show, a Gold Medal for Best Show Garden was won by this Mars garden. Designer Sarah Eberle intended it for a dome on Mars, with red rocks from Scotland. 600 Days With Bradstone is the result of 8 years of thought, consultations with ESA experts and a final 2 weeks of 15-hour days. "I tell my daughters never to stop dreaming," Eberle says, "because sometimes your dreams really do come true."

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

ISDC Scoop: Going to Moon Soon

I was sitting in the front row of an ISDC session, and who should sit down next to me but BUZZ ALDRIN! He was not looking for me, but stood to ask a question of the panel while plugging his Sci Fi novel. It makes these guys seem human to see that they are just like many of us, promoting a book. It would almost be an honour being stepped on by someone who stepped on the Moon.

No human has gone beyond low Earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972. Sometime around 2018 NASA plans to send an Orion around the Moon, a flight similiar to Apollo 8. Someone else will beat them to it by years. Russia's Energia Corporation has been offering two seats around the Moon on a 3-person Soyuz for the bargain price of 100 million US per ticket. Energia will use the loot to finance a next-generation spacecraft called Klipr.

Space Adventures is a company that arranges everything from zero-G flights to private ISS trips. At ISDC, Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson let out that he is negotiating with 2 billionaires for the lunar flight. Since Forbes estimates 946 billionaires on Earth, it is a big market. The most likely candidate is UK resident ROMAN ABRAMOVITCH, owner of the Chelsea football team.

It should be a big kick in the rear for NASA if somebody rounds the Moon on a Russian spacecraft. Currently NASA has funding problems that are slowing down their Moon plans. Many doubt that the Vision will survive a new president. John F. Kennedy's vision survived two presidents to reach the Moon. If the US does not meet this challenge, they will no longer be the leading nation. For now, I have been fortunate to see the far side of Aldrin's head.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Big News on Black Holes!

Back on August 17, during a Journey to the Centre of the Earth this blog predicted that "voids" between galaxies are far from empty. "The largest Black Holes were true monsters devouring everything in sight. They cleared great voids between sheets of matter. The 70% of mass ascribed to 'dark energy' may be hidden in those voids." That was predicted back in '004 by the Very Short Paper on GM=tc^3, in January 7, January 13 and February 27 posts.

This week at AAS: a team led by astronomer Anca Constantin announced that supermassive Black Holes are just as common in void galaxies as they are in walls. Her team studied more than 1,000 galaxies using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Perhaps you recognise the human shape in the Sloan diagram. Here the visible galaxies are black dots and the blue circles are voids. When our eyes are opened we find the red dots, supermassive Black Holes in the voids.

Being alone in their voids, these Black Holes accrete relatively little matter. With less food around, they eat less and give off less radiation. Like a Black Hole is supposed to be, they are dark and difficult to find. This led astronomers to assume that "voids" containing most of the Universe's volume are empty.

A fish in the Barrier Reef knows to avoid dark holes in the coral. Something hidden in those voids could eat her! It is hoped that scientists are more intelligent than fish. One pillar of the "dark energy" hypothesis is that 70% of the Universe mass appeared to be missing. If Black Holes are as common in voids as in walls that is at least 50% of mass. Here is the missing slice of the pie, and DE will soon be in big trouble.

For a comprehensive list of ISDC news links, check Out of the Cradle.

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