Astronomers have discovered the largest known structure in the universe, a clump of active galactic cores that stretch 4 billion light-years from end to end. The structure is a light quasar group (LQG), a collection of extremely luminous Galactic Nulcei powered by supermassive central black holes.
So that’s cool and everything, but maybe some of you would be interested to know why this is a significant find? Beyond just its record-setting bigness.
Since Einstein, physicists have accepted something called the Cosmological Principle, which states that the universe looks the same everywhere if you view it on a large enough scale. You might find some weird shit over here, and some other freaky shit over there, but if you pull back the camera far enough, you’ll find that same weird and/or freaky shit cropping up over and over again in a fairly regular distribution. This is because the universe is (probably) infinite in size and (we are pretty darn sure) has, and has always had, the same forces acting on it everywhere.
So why is this new LQG so radical? (It stands for ‘Large Quasar Group,’ btw, not ‘Light Quasar Group.’)
Well, let’s try to comprehend the scale we’re dealing with. A ‘megaparsec,’ written Mpc, is about 3.2 million light years long. The Milky Way is about 0.03 Mpc across (or 100,000 light years). The distance between our galaxy and Andromeda, our closest galactic neighbor, is 0.75 Mpc, or 2.5 million light years. LQGs are usually about 200 Mpc across. Assuming a logarithmic distribution of weird shit outliers (if you don’t know how logarithmic distribution curves work, don’t worry about it), cosmologists predicted that nothing in the universe should be more than 370 Mpc across.
This new LQG is 1200 Mpc long. That’s four billion light years. Four BILLION LIGHT YEARS. Just to travel from one side to the other of this one thing. I mean for fuck’s sake, the universe is only about 14 billion years old! How many of these things could there be?
Right now it looks like the Cosmological Principle might be out the window, unless physicists can find some way to make the existence of this new LQG work with the math (and boy, are they trying). And that’s totally baffling. It would mean—well, we don’t have any idea what it would mean. That the universe isn’t essentially uniform? That some ‘special’ physics apply/applied in some places but not in others? That Something Happened that is totally outside our current ability to understand or quantify stuff happening?
By the way, no one lives there. The radiation from so many quasars would sterilize rock.
Sources: 1 2 3
are you telling us astronomers have discovered something which is literally fucktuple the size of anything else previously estimated to exist
Anything that fucking rewrites all of what we know about the universe needs to get its ass on my blog. It’s giant, glowy, black hole filled ass.
Reblogging for the totally legit usage of the mathematical term “fucktuple.”
This gives me just about all of the science horn. I love space.
(Source: wasbella102, via d410420)
Despite extensive analysis, Fermi bubbles defy explanation
Scientists from Stanford and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have analyzed more than four years of data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, along with data from other experiments, to create the most detailed portrait yet of two towering bubbles that stretch tens of thousands of light-years above and below our galaxy.
The bubbles, which shine most brightly in energetic gamma rays, were discovered almost four years ago by a team of Harvard astrophysicists led by Douglas Finkbeiner who combed through data from Fermi’s main instrument, the Large Area Telescope.
Math is Beautiful, math is the absolute truth and that makes it beautiful. Mathematicians even go so far as calling it an art form.
mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show - Bertrand Russel
One of the most amazing equations, in my opinion, is the Lorentz factor,
Virtually all of the mathematics behind Einsteins theory or special relativity can be reduced back to this one, simple equation. basically, these few lines describe exactly what happens when you travel close to the speed of light, and the fact that it is as simple and short as it is, is beautiful.
I love this because it’s so simple. This same factor is used in the calculation of relativistic increases in mass (the faster you go the more energy starts increasing mass instead of increasing your speed, or rather momentum seeing as the mass ‘increase’ is only perceived in the direction it is traveling in), time dilation where time is slowed for the person who is traveling close to the speed of light (relative to outside observers), and appearing to contract the length of the thing moving at that speed till it’s essentially a line segment (but only as viewed by observers - you wouldn’t feel a thing if you were traveling in a space ship traveling that fast provided you are not accelerating).
So how fast would you need to travel for 1 day to last a year? (from your perspective - to the outsider only a day has passed.)
Well, you’d have to be moving at more than 86% of the speed of light to double the length of time compared to a relative observer. So to increase the length of a day to a year you’d need to be moving at 99.999625% of the speed of light. Of course the amount of energy required to do something like that is unfathomable and to accelerate to that velocity without being crushed to death would take about a year on it’s own (again from an outsiders perspective - really good discussion on this forum BTW).
Time dilation, length dilation, relativistic mass, ect. calculators here
What it’s like for an observer on a relativistic space ship here
30 July 2014
Bio-bots Are Coming
Think of a robot and you probably imagine something made of metal and wires. But scientists are now exploring the softer side of robotics, developing devices made from squishy biological materials that adapt quickly to the environment around them. These bio-bots, as they’re known, could transform the robots of the future. A team of US researchers has used 3D printing to create a tiny soft ‘skeleton’ made of a special gel. This is then impregnated with mouse muscle stem cells, which grow into a sheet of strong muscle cells (pictured) to provide power and movement. Normally, muscle cells in the body respond to electrical signals, and it’s the same here: an electrical zap gets the bio-bot crawling along like an inchworm. It’s pretty slow – just a fraction of a millimetre per second – but this technology could one day lead to revolutionary biological machines.
Written by Kat Arney
Image by Rashid Bashir and colleagues
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, USA
Originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY 4.0)
Research published in PNAS, July 2014
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