Here are some of the leading science stories from astronomy, cosmology and evolutionary biology from the past week:
Space-Time is Not the Same for Everyone. From Science Daily: Before the Big Bang, space-time as we know it did not exist. So how was it born? The process of creating normal space-time from an earlier state dominated by quantum gravity has been studied for years by theorists at the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw. Recent analyses suggest a surprising conclusion: not all elementary particles are subject to the same space-time.
How Early Earth Kept Warm Enough to Support Life. From Science Daily: Solving the “faint young sun paradox” — explaining how early Earth was warm and habitable for life beginning more than 3 billion years ago even though the sun was 20 percent dimmer than today — may not be as difficult as believed, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study. The short answer: a lot more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Nature’s Unruly Complexity. From NPR’s blog 13.7: According to reductionism, every system, no matter how complex, can be understood in terms of the behavior of its basic constituents. The focus is on the bottom layer of the material chain: matter is made of molecules; molecules of atoms; atoms of electrons, protons, and neutrons; protons and neutrons of quarks; we don’t know if the buck stops here or not. At the biological level, organisms are composed of organs; organs of cells; cells of organic macromolecules; those of many atoms, etc. In practice, reductionists know (or should know) that this extrapolation is impossible: studying how quarks and electrons behave won’t help us understand how a uranium nucleus behaves, and much less genetic reproduction or how the brain works.
UK Team Plans ET Search. From NPR Science Friday Podcast: A group of British academic researchers has announced plans to band together in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Alan Penney, the coordinator of the newly-formed UK SETI Research Network, describes the group’s strategy for looking for signals from the stars.
Scientists Confirm Status of Homo Floresiensis as a New Hominoid Species. From Science Daily: New scientific analysis points to the “hobbit” remains first found ten years ago is a distinct, extinct hominoid species rather than a deformed homo erectus.
Evolution Too Slow to Keep Up With Climate Change. From Science Daily: Many vertebrate species would have to evolve about 10,000 times faster than they have in the past to adapt to the rapid climate change expected in the next 100 years, a study led by a University of Arizona ecologist has found. [Editor’s Note: We know the Earth has suffered significant climate changes over short periods bad results for many species. This is the first time it was brought about by humans.]
Spacecraft Images the Heliotail, Revealing and Unexpected Structure. From Science Daily: NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft recently provided the first complete pictures of the solar system’s downwind region, revealing a unique and unexpected structure. “We’re seeing a heliotail that’s much flatter and broader than expected, with a slight tilt”.