The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe Episode #469 is officially “in the books” (per se) and there were many more items we would have like to cover. Here are a handful of those items which ALMOST made it in to the show:
A newly appreciated galaxy is celebrating Independence Day (and my birthday) with colorful and intense fireworks-like displays
Messier-106 is no ordinary spiral galaxy. Two of it’s spiral arms are weird enough that astronomers call them anomalous. They are oddly and beautifully colored and they extend outside the plain of the galaxy in defiance of the other more stately arms.
The European Space Agency is considering using a harpoon to snag space junk in orbit.
Low-earth orbit kinda sucks these days. There’s more than 17,000 trackable pieces of junk there larger than a Big Mac. If you include objects 1-10 centimeters wide, that number swells to an estimated half-million bits of dangerous debris. This detritus ranges from multi-ton defunct satellites to paint chips.
Physicist claims evidence that light is just a little bit slower than we think
Do you remember 1987? I do. That was the year of we detected the closest Supernova in 383 years. It was the first time that advanced human astronomers had a real close view of one. I even
threw a party (no I didn’t). It wasn’t in the Milky Way unfortunately. It was in a nearby (160,000 light years distant) dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Researchers have detected the smallest force ever measured using lasers and a super-cold gas trapped by waves of light.
This force is so small you’ve probably never even heard it before. We’re talking about a force of 42 YoctoNewtons (I promise that’s not made up). One yoctonewton is a septillionth of a newton or about a thousand billion billion times less than a feather lying on your desk. For some useless perspective, one newton of force is a little more than what’s needed to depress a key on a keyboard
The famous Higgs Boson is showing new evidence of being exactly what theory predicts, which is actually a bit of a bummer.
Who can forget the summer of 2012 when CERN finally announced it had officially discovered the horribly monikered God Particle, properly known as the Higgs Boson. This is the particle (field) that imbues mass onto all particles everywhere that have…um…mass.
Our solar system’s journey around and around the Milky Way may be more fraught with danger than we thought. Some Harvard scientists are now saying that dark matter in our galaxy may periodically hurtle comets towards the inner solar system as we periodically pass through a thin disk of the invisible stuff.