Computers are providing solutions to math problems that we can’t check
Good news! A computer has solved the longstanding Erdős discrepancy problem! Trouble is, we have no idea what it’s talking about — because the solution, which is as long as all of Wikipedia’s pages combined, is far too voluminous for us puny humans to confirm.
A few years ago, the mathematician Steven Strogatz predicted that it wouldn’t be too much longer before computer-assisted solutions to math problems will be beyond human comprehension. Well, we’re pretty much there. In this case, it’s an answer produced by a computer that was hammering away at the Erdős discrepancy problem.
Full Story: Io9
Let me introduce… The names of galaxies
The names of astronomical objects, and therefore of galaxies, are generally composed of letters and numbers, only the most renowned of them have a proper noun. The letters refer to the catalogues in which they are listed, while the numbers indicate the object’s entry in the catalogue. This is why a galaxy can have multiple names, for example, the Andromeda Galaxy is also known as M31 or NGC 224.
Some of the most common catalogues are:
- M (Messier): A catalogue compiled by Charles Messier and several colleagues in the eighteenth century. In this catalogue there are many of the brightest and most remarkable objects, including nebulae and star clusters.
- NGC/IC (New General Catalogue) / (Index Catalogue): The catalogue, compiled by JLE Dreyer from the 1860s-1880s, includes —in addition to star clusters and nebulae— about 10,000 of the most important galaxies and the first collection of astronomical photographs. Until recently, almost all the known galaxies belonged to this catalogue.
- Arp: In 1966, Halton Arp published the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, which contains 338 galaxies in total. The main purpose of the catalogue was to present photographically examples of different types of unusual galaxies’ structures. It was therefore a tool to facilitate the work of understanding what determines the form of elliptical or spiral galaxies.
- UGC (Uppsala General Catalogue): It contains data for 12,921 galaxies north of declination = -2° 30’. The catalogue was published in 1973 by Peter Nilsson, classifying objects by location, size, orientation, and magnitude from Palomar Sky Survey photographs.
Other names, instead, refer to a survey name and the object’s coordinates. The digits, therefore, indicate the right ascension and declination (RA+/-DEC) or (α+/-δ) —either for epoch 1950 or 2000.
In this case some of the most common catalogues are:
- PKS: Radio sources from the Parkes radio telescope (i.e. PKS 0521-36).
- IRAS: Infrared Astronomical Satellite (i.e. IRAS 09104+4109).
All the other data (whether they are numbers, letters, initials or abbreviation) are explained in the introductory part of each catalogue.
You can find the catalogue listing the beautiful Galactic Rose here.
Strange Quark Stars —Does One Actually Exist in a Nearby Supernova?
"We haven’t found strange stars yet," explains Prashanth Jaikumar at the Argonne National Laboratory. "But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Maybe we have found them. Maybe some of these neutron stars are really strange stars. According to our theory, it would be very difficult to tell a strange star from a neutron star."
Research suggests that neutron stars may gradually transform into ‘strange’ stars - i.e. in stars made up primarily from the ‘strange’ quark. The conventional wisdom is that the electric field of a such a hypothetical strange star (made up from strange matter) at its surface would be so huge and its luminosity so big that it would be impossible to confuse it with anything else.
Hosted by physicist Brian Greene, ‘The Fabric of the Cosmos’ is a journey to the frontiers of known physics in an effort to explore the deepest and most puzzling cosmological queries.
Hard as it is to swallow, cutting-edge theories are suggesting that our universe may not be the only universe. Instead, it may be just one of an infinite number of universes that make up the “multiverse.” In this show, Brian Greene takes us on a tour of this brave new theory at the frontier of physics, showing what some of these alternate realities might be like. Some universes may be almost indistinguishable from our own; others may contain variations of all of us, where we exist but with different families, careers, and life stories. In still others, reality may be so radically different from ours as to be unrecognizable. Brian Greene reveals why this radical new picture of the cosmos is getting serious attention from scientists. It won’t be easy to prove, but if it’s right, our understanding of space, time, and our place in the universe will never be the same.
You can watch the program HERE.
"Man’s respect for knowledge is one of his most peculiar characteristics. Knowledge in Latin is scientia, and science came to be the name of the most respectable kind of knowledge."
Imre Lakatos (Curd, Martin, and J. A. Cover. Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues, p. 20. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998. Print.)
All this beautiful life we never see.
Cupid’s War / Reed and Nick
"Thank fuck," Nick grumbles. "Now I only have to maim the perpetrators a little instead of killing them dead." He reaches down and nudges (nudges not pets) Quack, poking it once when it gives the feline equivalent of a massive sigh. The little fucker does this thing where it shuffles slightly and wraps its front paws around Nick’s leg like some sort of fucking teddy. Nick glares preemptively at Reed in warning.
"Whatever you’re planning to do," he mutters. "Don’t include me in your strategy until at least noon. I’m going right back to fuckin’ sleep." He doesn’t ask Reed to stay, not directly, but hopes the invitation is implied.
Of course, Reed would not have allowed Nick to kill their surprise vandals anyway, though he doesn’t believe that was a sincere threat. And of course, he stays. Unless some aspect of his work is beckoning him away, he generally interprets a lack of a clear dismissal from Nick as an invitation to linger. Besides, it would probably be impossible to move Quark right now. Reed settles back into place without a word.
Leaps and Bounds / Tony and Reed
"S’more people moving around," he replied silkily, taking a moment to watch his coffee ripple around in his mug. "We finally got all the Xavier people settled, we finally got Xavier settled, we ditched Dennis the Menace and his reindeer sidekick, and the top three floors had to have the paneling replaced to up the soundproofing.”
That had been a courtesy to Fury and Coulson. Since Pepper’s floor was technically the one under it, it made sense to keep a nursery on each floor. Tony had made a point to replace the wall paneling the moment Pepper mentioned a nursery on her floor.
But he didn’t bother to babble off all the details and instead took another quiet drink, blinking back up at Reed over the edge of his coffee mug when he lowered it. “Pepper’s gonna pop at any second,” he tacked on, his best attempt at conversational despite the flashing buzz the words put in his gut. “Like, I’ve got the pilot of my smaller jet on standby, any second.”
Reed couldn’t imagine who Dennis the Menace or the reindeer sidekick were meant to be, so all he could glean from that phrase was that more than just SHIELD had moved out of the Tower. Didn’t appear to be any new faces, though, which was fortunate as Reed was still unacquainted with many of the Tower’s current residents.
Though Tony tried to sound nonchalant, his anticipation and anxiety was evident. Pepper’s pregnancy had temporarily slipped Reed’s mind; he thought guiltily that if Sue were here she’d have already asked Tony about Pepper and the baby’s status. Still, his mouth curved in a small smile as he finally took a sip from his own cup. “You must be…” he cast about for the right word to encapsulate all that he imagined a new father experienced. “…excited.”