Robotics

Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole May Reveal the Universe’s Hidden Fifth Force

Physicists have developed a method that could potentially spot a previously hidden force in the universe. If proven to exists, this fifth force could change how we model physics itself.

For the most part, we seem to have our universe figured out: there are four fundamental forces that govern the interactions of every conceivable object, from atoms to planets. These four — the weak and strong nuclear forces, electromagnetic force, and gravity — explain all there is. Except they don’t, really.

As much as we’ve understood these forces, there are still phenomena that the standard model of physics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity don’t quite make explain. For instance, there’s more gravity in space than what all visible matter can supposedly produce. That’s why some suggest undiscovered dark matter as the source of this, or as other physicists suggests, that a hidden “fifth force” is out there. One such physicist is Andrea Ghez, director at the University of California, Los Angeles, Galactic Center Group.

The key to detecting this fifth force, according to Ghez and her team, is studying the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way and the stars around it. “By watching the stars move over 20 years using very precise measurements taken from Keck Observatory data, you can see and put constraints on how gravity works,” she explained in a press release. “If gravitation is driven by something other than Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, you’ll see small variations in the orbital paths of the stars.” They published their method in the journal Physical Review Letters.

This research could go a long way to answering questions that have risen since Einstein published his theories, Ghez said.

“Einstein’s theory describes [gravity] beautifully well, but there’s lots of evidence showing the theory has holes,” Ghez said in her interview for the press release. “The mere existence of supermassive black holes tells us that our current theories of how the Universe works are inadequate to explain what a black hole is.”

In particular, the team is excited to observe a star called S0-2 as it passes closer than ever to the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole next year. If the orbital path of these stars show deviations from what general relativity predicts, then the researchers might discover clues about the supposed fifth force.

If a fifth force does exist and Ghez’s method discovers it, we’d probably need to reexamine the physics of our Universe. “This is really exciting. It’s taken us 20 years to get here, but now our work on studying stars at the center of our galaxy is opening up a new method of looking at how gravity works,” Ghez said in the interview.

VIA futurism.com

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Robotics

In Letter, At Least 12 States Will Sue to Block Any Rollback of Emissions Standards

While the White House and Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, have indicated their plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards set by the Obama administration in 2011, the attorneys general of 12 states and Washington District of Columbia have pledged to sue the EPA if the roll back happens. The states — California, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Oregon, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland — made their intentions clear in a letter to Pruitt. Back in 2011, President Obama’s administration made the deal with automakers, who agreed to work on doubling their average fuel efficiency fleet-wide until it reaches 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. The parties also agreed to undergo mid-term evaluations no later than April 2018 to ens...

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Could Tiny Fusion Rockets Revolutionize Spaceflight?

A small NASA-funded company is slimming down nuclear fusion reactors for space scienceVIA scientificamerican.com

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Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon 9 Rocket Lands Sucessfully | True Hollywood Talk

The SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket has landed successfully!  The Dragon, which is still on its way to orbit, is carrying around 6,000 pounds of supplies and science experiments for the crew of the ISS. That includes a group of fruit flies to test out how the cardiovascular system functions in microgravity, as well as a group of mice to study bone loss in the space environment. Some unique technologies are also riding up inside the Dragon’s trunk — the unpressurized structure attached to the spacecraft that provides support and houses the vehicle’s solar panels. The trunk contains an instrument called NICER, which will eventually be mounted to the outside of the space station to look for neutron stars, as well as a specialized solar panel called ROSA which can be unfurled a bit like a flag,...

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Robotics

The FDA Has Fast-Tracked A First-Of-Its Kind Cancer Treatment

The FDA has officially approved the first cancer drug that treats tumors based off of genetic information independent of the tumors' location in the body. In a clinical trial, the drug was active against cancer in over half of patients and completely wiped out the cancer in 21 percent of patients. One new drug has doctors and pharmaceutical companies in a tizzy. Pembrolizumab (branded Keytruda) has recently been approved, in a hurry, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat multiple tumors that arise from cancer in individuals with the same genetic abnormality. During a clinical trail, the drug was tested in 86 patients. Of those who took part in the study, 66 patients had their tumors both significantly shrink and stabilize — meaning the tumors did n...

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