I see you, now you must die

Posted By on Nov 26, 2007

The title is a summary of how a New Scientist article seems to interpret the fate of the universe. Basically, the article states that because we view the universe, we may be causing the collapse of wave functions that would otherwise be happily balanced between not alive and not dead (the Schrondinger’s litter of supernovae, dark energy, and many other phenomenas). Think of it this way, has a supernovae really gone off if no one...

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The Improbable Universe

Posted By on Oct 24, 2007

Slide Show + Audio (.mp4) Transcript: This is a talk I originally prepared to present as part of the 2206-2007 convocation series at Illinois College. Since then I have given it before several other audiences, and with every presentation I’ve had more people ask, will this be online. Finally, I can saw yes. Here’s the link. Please enjoy. In today’s crazy world, it is easy to get lost in the details of our overly busy...

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One of the most exciting discoveries of astronomy in recent years was the measurement of an acceleration term in the universe’s rate of expansion. Announced by both the Supernova Cosmology Project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the High-z Supernova Search Team, these results at once confirmed one another an revolutionized how astronomers view the universe. This discovery meant, quite simply, that our universe...

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Mostly Empty Space

Posted By on Aug 23, 2007

When we look at the cosmic microwave background we see both overly warm and overly cold spots. The warm spots grew into places with a lot of stuff; namely our modern galaxies. The cold spots grew into places without a lot of stuff; these are cosmic voids. While we have known for a long time that some clusters are denser than other clusters, we hadn’t fully realized just how empty and large those voids could be. New research...

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And it came from the CMB . . .

Posted By on May 12, 2007

wmap_skymap.jpgFraser (my co-host over at Astronomy Cast) and I like to joke about how everything we know in astronomy we know because of the Cosmic Microwave Background. How do we know the universe formed during the Big Bang? The CMB. How do we know the cosmic geometry is flat? The CMB. How do we know the mass distribution of the Oort Cloud? The CMB. How do we know where babies come from? The CMB.

Okay, so that last one is an exaggeration. As far as I know, human babies and the CMB have nothing in common. The remark about the Oort Cloud, however, may not always be as far fetched as it sounds. A group of scientists working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and lead by David Babich, have theorized a new technique for determining the mass distribution in the Oort cloud using distortions in the Cosmic Microwave Background.

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