Science!: Alternate Realities and Bullet Proof Cotton T-Shirts


Black Holes Are Wormholes to Alternate Universes

According to a new theory (or, perhaps, an old one, if you’re a science fiction fan and familiar with the concept of wormholes), black holes may be gateways into alternate universes. Any matter that’s sucked into a black hole emerges into another universe on the “other side” of the black hole tunnel. Therefore, “our own Universe may be the interior of a black hole existing inside another Universe.”

Or, so says Nikodem Poplawski, a physicist from Indiana University. In his paper published in Physics Letters B, he throws out complicated equations that strongly suggest the existence of these wormholes. Poplawski’s theory is an alternative to Einstein’s controversial “space time singularities.” These are infinitely hot and dense points in space that are believed to exist in the center of black holes. Though indirect evidence supports Einstein’s ideas, many scientists have a hard time wrapping their heads around it – and when quantum physicists – whose job is to handle these mind boggling theories – have a hard time swallowing it, perhaps considering for a different theory is not such a bad idea.

The “black holes as wormhole” theory would also explain gamma ray bursts – ultrapowerful explosions that are only second in overall intensity after the Big Bang. Currently, they’re believed to be the result of star deaths (supernovae), but the new theory postulates that they are actually discharges of matter emerging from the end of a black hole in an alternate universe.

Further, Poplawski’s theory may also explain certain features of our universe. After the Big Bang, the curvature of the universe should have been constantly increasing until it was closed and spherical. However, studies have shown that our universe appears to be entirely flat. Not only is it flat, but it’s also uniformly the same temperature throughout. This implies that every object – to the farthest reaches of the galaxy – must have been close enough at some point to achieve temperature equilibrium. However, the objects are so far apart that “the time it would take to travel between them at the speed of light exceeds the age of the universe,” as Ker Than, writer at National Geographic News so eloquently states.

The theory of inflation has been proposed to answer these discrepancies. According to inflation, our universe experienced a rapid expansion shortly after its creation. So, our universe appears to be flat because the sphere we’re a part of is just really, really long. It’s sort of how, though we know the Earth is round, from a human’s point of view, it looks flat in all directions. Inflation also explains why objects that are so far away would have, at some point, been close enough to interact and, one assumes, establish that equilibrium necessary to explain the constant temperature throughout.

Still, with most things quantum, we can’t explain what causes inflation, though some have attributed it to “exotic matter,” which, unlike our own “normal matter,” is repelled by gravity instead of attracted to it. Poplawski believes that this exotic matter was actually created by the collapse of some of the first massive stars, which in turn created the first wormholes.

Despite being really frickin’ cool, this theory isn’t so much a step forward as it is a step sideways. It still doesn’t explain how the universe was created, or even how these alternate universes between wormholes were created. “There’s really some pressing problems we’re trying to solve,” states Andreas Albrecht, physicist at the University of California, Davis. “It’s not clear that any of this is offering a way forward with that.”

If you’re wondering, like I am, how one could possibly even prove a theory such as this – well, the best we can hope for is indirect evidence. To test Poplawski’s theory, we’d need to look at the rotation of our universe – specifically, which direction it spins. Black holes rotate, and if our universe was born out of one of them, we would have inherited that same rotation. If experiments show that our universe prefers one direction over another, that could be subtle evidence that the wormhole theory is correct.

Source: National Geographic

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Bulletproof Cotton T-Shirts

A simple cotton T-shirt may soon become the latest in body armor for cops, soldiers, and hey, perhaps even for us everyday folk. Dr. Xiaodong Li, a professor at USC College of Engineering and Computing has found a way to take the boron-carbide plates typically found in bulletproof vests and integrate them into regular cotton T-shirts.

It’s a simple recipe: Take 1 cotton T-shirt, a solution of boron and a preheated oven. Cut the t-shirt into strips, dip them into the boron solution and bake them until the heat converts the cotton fibers of the shirt into carbon, which then fuses with the boron to create boron-carbide. The result is a flexible, super-tough, super-strong T-shirt with the potential ability to deflect bullets. Oh, and bacon. Cooking should always result in bacon.

“The currently used boron-carbide bulk material is brittle,” Li said. “They are not only lightweight but also flexible. We should be able to fabricate much tougher body armors using this new technique. It could even be used to produce lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aircrafts.”

Oh, and it also blocks UV rays. You know, in case you were under attack by the sun.

Source: PhysOrg



Zoo Fights To Save Last Known Colony of Tree Snails

Partula faba are a diminutive species of snail, and there are only 88 left of them in the entire world. All 88 remaining members of the species can be found in the Bristol Zoo, which have been bequeathed the colony of snails in hopes that they could increase their numbers. The snails normally hail from Raiatea in French Polynesia, but their numbers have been steadily dwindling due to invasive plants and other species of cannibal snails. They were placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species in 2006.

Partula faba are just one species of the overall gastropod designation of tree snails. According to Grier Ewins, a keeper at the zoo, “Tree snails are incredibly endangered, with Partula faba being one of the most endangered of them all – they really are on the edge of survival.” Just between the mid 1970s and 80s, nearly 80% of all known tree snails were lost. So far, the snails have managed to produce a hearty 15 offspring since being in the zoo’s care, and they only hope to grow their numbers further. Heck, these guys are so adorable, I’d be up for helping to raise a few.

Source: BBC


First Ever Multi-Cellular Organism to Not Use Oxygen Found

It used to be that only viruses and single-celled organisms could exist without oxygen. However, scientists have now found the first complex organisms that can live without it. Most complex organisms need oxygen to live. They have mitochondria within their cells, structures that convert oxygen into energy, called ATP. Scientists have found populations of tiny, jellyfish-esque animals in the Mediterranean that only have hydrogenosomes, which are modified versions of mitochondria. Hydrogenosomes can just produce ATP without needing oxygen and were originally only found in single-celled organisms. Finding multi-cellular organisms with hydrogenosomes is a world-wide first.

This discovery suggests interesting possibilities for life on other planets – such as Europa, which is believed to have a subsurface ocean and host oxygen-free environments. Sounds like these little critters would feel right at home.

Source: National Geographic

Lauren Admire can’t stop watching the streaming video of baby owls.

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