Are We at the Center of the Universe?

An alternative cosmology that doesn’t require dark energy may have the effect of putting the Milky Way near the center of the universe.  That’s not the only interpretation, but it is being considered. reported on work by mathematicians at UC Davis who solved Einstein’s field equations without dark energy.  If the big […]

Planet-Makers Ask Miracles to Evade Death Spiral

Remember the old artwork of planets gently forming out of dust orbiting a young star?  That’s all gone.  Reality has set it.  Clumps of material a meter across need help – almost miraculous help – to avoid getting sucked into the star in a giant death spiral.  If you don’t believe it, ask John Chambers […]

Faint Young Sun Paradox Resolved

For decades, astronomers and geologists have worried about a paradox.  Stellar evolution theory claims sunlight on the early earth would have been 20-30% dimmer than it is today, but geology shows the oceans were liquid in the earliest (Archean) rocks.  For that matter, so does the book of Genesis, but that record is not usually […]

Paper View:  A Geology Paradigm Suffers a Paradox

A pair of geologists found a paradox in a paradigm.  That paradigm is the belief that ancient ocean levels rose and fell in cycles as ice sheets retreated and advanced, and the cause of the cycles was periodic changes in earth’s orbit.  They modeled this process and couldn’t get it to work.  They couldn’t get […]

Cosmologist Has a Sobering Thought: We Are Forever in the Dark About Dark Energy

An evangelist for the standard model of cosmology is having a moment of penitence.  He is admitting to himself, and to the world, that “we will remain resolutely in the dark about dark energy.”     In a piece in New Scientist, Pedro Ferreira [Oxford] has revealed the vicious circle of assumptions that undermine confidence […]

Dark Matter: Where Is It?

If physicists and astronomers are going to continue to tell us that 95% of the mass in the universe is hidden in some unobservable dark matter, they had better find it soon.  Two articles on PhysOrg (#1, #2) reported on continuing efforts to find the elusive stuff – if it exists at all.  The first […]

Oil Can Come from Rock

Methane and other hydrocarbons can be produced in the mantle, reported Science Daily.  This disputes earlier beliefs that oil and gas are products of organisms that lived and died.  Carnegie Institute scientists have produced ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite in high-pressure equipment simulating conditions 40 to 95 miles deep in the crust and […]

Nanotech Blurs Line With Biophysics

Machines on the molecular scale – in the literature these days, one needs to dig to find whether a news article is talking about man-made machinery or the living cell.  Both employ laws of physics to do work.  Notice how seamless the connection is in the following examples. Kinesin tightrope walk:  Scientists at Northwestern University […]

We Know Less Than We Think

Strange reports come from science news outlets on occasion that call into question facts we thought we understood.  These raise a question: do we really know what we think we know? Cutting dinosaurs down to size:  Dinosaurs may have been half as heavy as thought, said Science Daily.  Some paleontologists are claiming that widely-used methods […]

Plants Use the Perfect Propeller

What kid hasn’t played with maple seeds to watch them spin in the air like helicopters?  Scientists watch them, too.  A team from the Netherlands and California found out how they stay in the air for so long without engines to drive them.  One would think in an era of advanced aeronautical engineering the physics […]

This Place Really Has Atmosphere

Of all the bodies in the solar system, only eight have a substantial atmosphere.  If you add in those with tenuous atmospheres, you can add in Triton and Mercury, and maybe a few others, till it becomes pedantic to call it an atmosphere if there are only a few short-lived molecules hovering over a moon.  […]

Planets Can’t Grow Past the Electric Fence

In the artwork, it looks so simple: dust clumps into planets that grow into nice, orbiting solar systems – like ours.  It’s not so simple when you try to nail down the real physics.  Planet-building models have to contend with a host of variables and barriers to growth (accretion).  Another barrier was discussed in Astrophysical […]

Mudstones Make Ripples

Most of the sediments in the world are mudstones – including shales and clays.  Until recently these were thought to form only in calm, placid seas.  Now, two geologists are continuing to show that they can form in flowing or turbulent water.     Two years ago, Schieber and Southard burst a paradigm by explaining […]

Discovering Health and Technology in the Human Body

Why invent technology from scratch, when the body contains substances that point the way to high tech, and can heal almost like magic?  Several articles show that harnessing the body’s own resources is the wave of the future.     Umbilical cords were usually tossed into the maternity ward biowaste can, but now they are […]

Bees’ Knees Bridle the Breeze

Bees stabilize their flight in windy conditions by extending their hind legs.  Even though this costs 30% more energy and produces more drag, it provides stabilization against turbulence by increasing their moment of inertia (i.e., their resistance to being flipped over).     A team of scientists videotaped the insects flying when blasted by powerful […]
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