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Full With Noise: Theory and Japanese Noise Music
by Paul Hegarty.......... "Full with Noise,..." is about noise music, specifically the version that has come to be called Japanese Noise -- itself composed of many different strands. The first half deals with the question of noise. What is it, whose is it, and how can we think about it. Also, how does noise inflect our thinking, rather than being an object; at what point does noise lose its noiseness and become meaning, music, signification? Or -- is there even a point where noise can subsist? Mostly, the text below takes the view that noise is a function of not-noise, itself a function of not being noise. Noise is no more original than music or meaning, and yet its position is to indicate the banished, overcome primordiality, and cannot lose this 'meaning'. Noise, then, is neither the outside of language nor music, nor is it simply categorisable, at some point or other, as belonging exclusively to the world of meaning, understanding, truth and knowledge. Read More ...
Dirty HC Punk explosion - Bristol scene Rise up + Disorder 9 free CDs
From The Cortinas to Lunatic Fringe and Disorder, Bristol had a huge Punk scene that has influenced, affected and stimulated a vast range of artists that operate in the city. Many of these artists produce music that wouldn’t necessarily suggest a Punk heritage but scratch beneath the surface of a lot of the major players in the Bristol milieu and you will find a fondness for the times of `spikey barnets’, limited musical ability, a `F*** You’ attitude and disrespect for the music industry and its poseur hierarchy. Read More ...
Dinosaur Jr.
Beyond + 17 albums free download
A straight shot west out of Boston on I-90 will carry you, in two hours or less, to Western Massachusetts, where the country still looks like it did twenty or even 40 years ago: college towns, I-91 tracing the same lazy ladder from Springfield up through Holyoke and Northampton, Amherst and Deerfield. Out there it's taken for granted that the houses will be drafty, the winters uniformly long, and that, on any given trip to the local supermarket, one might spot Thurston or Lou or Kim or J, on-and-off locals for more than twenty years. {audio}http://www.archive.org/download/DinosaurJrDrawings/07Drawerings_64kb.mp3{/audio} ... Drawerings Read More ...
Leon Theremin /1896-1993/ - the great forefather of Rock N' Roll /big noise master/
In 1919, in the midst of the Russian Civil War, Theremin invented the musical instrument that bears his name. The theremin is an electronic device that resonates sound when its operator waves his hands near its two antennas. It was the first musical instrument designed to be played without being touched. He invented the theremin (also called the thereminvox) in 1919, when his country was in the midst of the Russian Civil War. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which he demonstrated his invention to full audiences, Theremin found his way to the United States. He performed the theremin with the New York Philharmonic in 1928. He patented his invention in 1929 (U.S. Patent 1,661,058 ) and subsequently granted commercial production rights to RCA. In 1938 Theremin was kidnapped in the New York apartment he shared with his American wife (the black ballet dancer, Iavana Williams) by the NKVD (forerunners of the KGB). He was transported back to Russia, and accused of propagating anti-Soviet propaganda by Stalin. Read More ...
Animal Collective
Album: Fall Be Kind + 9 albums free download
By way of decrying a society that left its citizens unbearably restrained, Edith Wharton describes how in New York in the 1870s, women would order dresses from their Paris dressmakers and then leave them in tissue paper at least two years before wearing them in public; the thought of showing them "in advance of the fashion" was unforgivably vulgar. Social life has changed, but cultural life seems just as restricted now – even Animal Collective are held back by trends that seem a couple of years old (and that they helped to invent). When I think back on 2009, I’ll first remember how our impoverished aesthetic generation repeatedly scraped the resin from the cultural trash barrel. Every second person is wearing neon leggings, and the ones who aren’t rock a ‘70s aesthetic, with high-waisted jeans and moccasins. Christmas sweaters are getting impossible to find at the thrift store. Ska revival. Garage rock revival. It never ends. Read More ...
Guapo
Elixirs
For just over 10 years, London's Guapo has been working in the world of avant and progressive rock. The band's past is a bit hard to track with its numerous lineup changes and guest musicians. The most recent change in roster was the resignation of Matthew Thompson, the founding member of Guapo, which occurred just before the release of 2005's Black Oni. The departure of Thompson has left Guapo with percussionist David Smith and multi-instrumentalist Daniel O'Sullivan. Though O'Sullivan is by no means a founding member of the band, but he was essential in honing the sound on Guapo's last two LPs: Five Suns and Black Oni. These two albums have been pivotal in building Guapo's following of fans, so it's hard not to credit O'Sullivan as an asset to the band.... {audio}http://www.neurotrecordings.com/artists/guapo/audio/Guapo-The%20Selenotrope.mp3 {/audio} ... The Selenotrope Read More ...
The Swans - THIS IS NOT A REUNION - Message From Gira + free discography download (20 CDs)
Michael Gira's re-activated Swans will be undertaking their first U.S. performances in 13 years, celebrating the Fall release of the first new Swans album since Soundtracks For The Blind (1997). The album was recorded by Jason LeFarge at Seizure's Palace in Brooklyn and is currently be remixed by Gira with Bryce Goggin (Antony & The Johnsons, Akron/Family) at Trout Recordings. Read More ...
New Zealand Psychedelic Noise scene + 6 free CDs
For a small country New Zealand has long been pumping out some impressive music. Way back in the 1960s it was crazed long-haired punkers messed up on all sorts of stuff - musical (the Pretty Things, Love, the 13th Floor Elevators, the Troggs and who-knows-what-else) and I guess otherwise. Some of the best of these bands (at least, the ones that recorded) can be heard on Wild Things vol 1 and 2, compiled by NZ music historian John Baker, the first of which came out on Flying Nun, the second probably on Baker's own Zero Records, also the home to No. 8 Wire: Psychedelia Without Drugs. Read More ...

Odd

Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet
The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence. McConnell’s not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering. He’s the nice-seeming guy who’s willing and able to use fear-mongering to manipulate the federal bureaucracy for his own ends, while coming off like a straight shooter to those who are not in the know. When he was head of the country’s national intelligence, he scared President Bush with visions of e-doom, prompting the president to sign a comprehensive secret order that unleashed tens of billions of dollars into the military’s black budget so they could start making firewalls and building malware into military equipment. Read More ...
The Peyote Way Church of God - believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life
The Peyote Way Church of God is a non-sectarian, multicultural, experiential, Peyotist organization located in southeastern Arizona, in the remote Aravaipa wilderness. It is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Native American Church, or any other religious organizations, though we do accept people from all faiths. Church membership is open to all races. We encourage individuals to create their own rituals as they become acquainted with the great mystery. We believe that the Holy Sacrament Peyote, when taken according to our sacramental procedure and combined with a holistic lifestyle (see Word of Wisdom), can lead an individual toward a more spiritual life. Peyote is currently listed as a controlled substance and its religious use is protected by Federal law only for Native American members of the Native American Church. Read More ...
All world secret underground bases build for space travelers
The following material comes from people who know the Dulce (underground) base exists. They are people who worked in the labs; abductees taken to the base; people who assisted in the construction; intelligence personal (NSA,CIA,FBI ... ect.) and UFO / inner-earth researchers. This information is meant for those who are seriously interested in the dulce base. for your own protection be advised to “use caution” while investigating this complex.Does a strange world exist beneath our feet? Strange legends have persisted for centuries about the mysterious cavern world and the equally strange beings who inhabit it.  More UFOlogists have considered the possibility that UFOs may be emanating from subterranean bases, that UFO aliens have constructed these bases to carry out various missions involving Earth or humans. Read More ...
Dreamachine - stroboscopic flicker device enter you to a hypnagogic state - try it right here in your browser
The dreamachine (or dream machine) is a stroboscopic  flicker device that produces visual stimuli. Artist Brion Gysin and William Burroughs's "systems adviser" Ian Sommerville created the dreamachine after reading William Grey Walter's book, The Living Brain. In its original form, a dreamachine is made from a cylinder with slits cut in the sides. The cylinder is placed on a record turntable and rotated at 78 or 45 revolutions per minute. A light bulb is suspended in the center of the cylinder and the rotation speed allows the light to come out from the holes at a constant frequency of between 8 and 13 pulses per second. This frequency range corresponds to alpha waves, electrical oscillations  normally present in the human brain while relaxing. Read More ...
Japan’s Annual Penis Festival – Celebrates Fertility
KOMAKI, Japan — It's springtime in Japan and that means one thing. Actually, two things. Penis festivals and vagina festivals. It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making. Maybe they should hold more such festivals. Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman), which experts blame on stagnant incomes and changing gender relations. Read More ...
Rarest Fishes in the World
Aquatic Lifeforms You Never Caught While Fishing:
Black-lip Rattail ............ These sorts of rattails feed in the muddy seafloor by gliding along head down and tail up, powered by gentle undulations of a long fin under the tail. The triangular head has sensory cells underneath that help detect animals buried in the mud or sand. The common name comes from the black edges around the mouth. Read More ...
Island of Ghosts: Hashima Island - Japan’s rotting metropolis
Hashima, an island located in Nagasaki Bay, is better known as Warship Island (Gunkanshima). The island was inhabited until the end of the 19th century, when it was discovered that the ground below it held tons of coal. The island soon became a center of a major mining complex owned by Mitsubishi Corporation. As the complex expanded, rock brought out of the shafts was used to artificially expand the island. Seawalls created in this expansion turned Hashima into the monstrous looking Gunkanshima; its artificial appearance makes it looks more like a battleship than an island. Read More ...
Japan Monster mummies - the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu, raijū, and human monks
These fairly freaky historical remains can be found lurking in dark corners of Buddhist temples and museums across Japan. Known as monster mummies, they are, in fact, the preserved remains of demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. Or should I say things that people thought were demons, mermaids, kappa, tengu and raijū. They are not pretty, but they are really fascinating. Read More ...

Recent

The Marijuana Conspiracy - The Real Reason Hemp is Illegal
MARIJUANA is DANGEROUS. Pot is NOT harmful to the human body or mind. Marijuana does NOT pose a threat to the general public. Marijuana is very much a danger to the oil companies, alcohol, tobacco industries and a large number of chemical corporations. Various big businesses, with plenty of dollars and influence, have suppressed the truth from the people. The truth is if marijuana was utilized for its vast array of commercial products, it would create an industrial atomic bomb! Entrepreneurs have not been educated on the product potential of pot. The super rich have conspired to spread misinformation about an extremely versatile plant that, if used properly, would ruin their companies. Read More ...
Freegan - strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed. After years of trying to boycott products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn’t just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself. Read More ...
The woman power era is coming - The End of Men!?
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences Read More ...
Libya Truth Tour
Cynthia McKinney ..... Thanks to all who have come out and participated in the Truth Tour.  I have almost come to its end.  Last night in Detroit, several of the women were moved to tears as I explained the situation in Libya right now as I know it to be. Every venue has had every seat occupied or was filled to capacity with standing room only.  Detroit's young singer and band, Sister Ziyah and Black Rain were phenomenal and their music set the tone for the event:  first song, Kickstart the Revolution; second song, Good Morning, America; third song, Today, I'm a Better Me. Read More ...
Victorian England popular&legal drugs (hashish, opium, absinthe and Chloral)
Victorian England, spanning roughly the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is characterized in popular understanding as a time of personal and family values. The codification of the notion of values developed into specific and detailed ideas about social and cultural propriety and restraint. The very term "Victorian" has come to be used in our own time by cultural conservatives who look to the reign of Victoria as a touchstone for their own desires about social order. Prudishness, excessive formality, and repression, it is popularly assumed, characterized Victorian culture. Read More ...
Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent
Not so long ago experts predicted the imminent collapse of religion in modern western culture. Religion – often synonymous in these discussions with superstition, magic, and delusion – would at last give way to the autonomy of human reason and the power of the experimental method of natural investigation. But something happened on the way to religion’s funeral. People kept on believing. Recent neuroscientific and evolutionary research has suggested that either many of the hallmarks of religion are, or are byproducts of, adaptations that helped our earliest ancestors survive. Read More ...
Punk explosion against cenzorship in Indonesia + film -punk in love indonesia
It's after midnight in Jakarta and, below a highway overpass, a party is just getting started. Students and the unemployed are listening to well-worn cassette tapes, swigging from bottles filled with a cocktail of beer and local wine and loitering in front of Movement Records — a punk-music shop that has become a nexus for local youths. It is also home to Onie, one of Jakarta's self-proclaimed original street punks, who both works and sleeps on the premises. "It is very quiet at night," Onie says. "The shops are closed, so society is O.K. with us being here. My friends can come at night and argue, laugh and fight for as long as they want." Read More ...
Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple
A temple complex in Turkey that predates even the pyramids is rewriting the story of human evolution. They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. To the north are forested mountains. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization. And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot—the exact spot—where humans began that ascent. Read More ...

Science

The World's First Commercial Brain-Computer Interface + history of BCI
A brain–computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a direct neural interface or a brain–machine interface, is a direct communication pathway between a brain and an external device. BCIs are often aimed at assisting, augmenting or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain–computer interface in scientific literature. Read More ...
Meet ALICE - new CERNs giant detector
The giant ALICE detector is already underway at CERN, and researchers are scrambling to add an electromagnetic calorimeter to capture jet-quenching, the newest way to look inside the quark-gluon plasma — the hot, dense state of matter that filled the earliest universe, which the Large Hadron Collider will soon recreate by slamming lead nuclei into one another.  CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is known mainly as the accelerator that will soon begin searching for the Higgs particle, and other new physics, in proton collisions at unprecedented energies — up to 14 TeV (14 trillion electron volts) at the center of mass — and with unprecedented beam intensities. But the same machine will also collide massive nuclei, specifically lead ions, to energies never achieved before in the laboratory. Read More ...
Vadim Chernobrov & Russian secrets experiments with time machines
A disturbing story in the March, 2005. 1 issue of Pravda suggests that the U. S. Government is working on the discovery of a mysterious point over the South Pole that may be a passageway backward in time. According to the article, some American and British scientists working in Antarctica on January 27, 1995, noticed a spinning gray fog in the sky over the pole. U. S. physicist Mariann McLein said at first they believed it to be some kind of sandstorm. But after a while they noticed that the fog did not change its form and did not move so they decided to investigate. Read More ...
The Secrets of Coral Castle and pyramids EXPLAINED by Leedskalnin's Magnetic Current theory
Coral Castle doesn't look much like a castle, but that hasn't discouraged generations of tourists from wanting to see it. That's because it was built by one man, Ed Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant who single-handedly and mysteriously excavated, carved, and erected over 2.2 million pounds of coral rock to build this place, even though he stood only five feet tall and weighed a mere 100 pounds. Ed was as secretive as he was misguided. He never told anyone how he carved and set into place the walls, gates, monoliths, and moon crescents that make up much of his Castle. Some of these blocks weigh as much as 30 tons. Ed often worked at night, by lantern light, so that no one could see him. He used only tools that he fashioned himself from wrecks in an auto junkyard. Read More ...
Microbial communities in fluid inclusions and long-term survival in halite + The 11th Hour - documentary
Fluid inclusions in modern and ancient buried halite from Death Valley and Saline Valley, California, USA, contain an ecosystem of “salt-loving” (halophilic) prokaryotes and eukaryotes, some of which are alive. Prokaryotes may survive inside fluid inclusions for tens of thousands of years using carbon and other metabolites supplied by the trapped microbial community, most notably the single-celled alga Dunaliella, an important primary producer in hypersaline systems. Deeper understanding of the long-term survival of prokaryotes in fluid inclusions will complement studies that further explore microbial life on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system, where materials that potentially harbor microorganisms are millions and even billions of years old. Read More ...
How Norbert Wiener Invents Cybernetics + his book " God and Golem, Inc.........."
Norbert Wiener invented the field of cybernetics, inspiring a generation of scientists to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities. Norbert Wiener was born on November 26, 1894, and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 18 for a thesis on mathematical logic ( see below "The Logic of Boolean Algebra").  After working as a journalist, university teacher, engineer, and writer, Wiener he was hired by MIT in 1919, coincidentally the same year as Vannevar Bush. In 1933, Wiener won the Bôcher Prize for his brilliant work on Tauberian theorems and generalized harmonic analysis. Read More ...
The T2K Experiment - From Tokai To Kamioka - Where is the anti-matter?
From the beginning of 2010, the T2K experiment will fire a beam of muon-neutrinos from Tokai on Japan's east coast, 300km accross the country to a detector at Kamioka. It hopes to investigate the phenomenon of "neutrino oscillations" by looking for "muon neutrinos" oscillating into "electron neutrinos".  A million pound detector has been built at the University of Warwick as part of a vital experiment to investigate fundamental particles - neutrinos. Read More ...
Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership
The internal workings of the US military had little significance to the overall state of the nation, except during wars – until the post-WWII era.   With the military dominating our foreign policy and being one of the most trusted institution, the character of our senior generals may become a major factor shaping our future.  Hence the importance of this chapter by GI Wilson from The Pentagon Labyrinth: Ten Short Essays to Help You Through It, edited by Winslow T. Wheeler and published by the Center for Defense Information and the World Security Institute.  You can see a summary and download a free copy of this important book at the Project for Government Oversight (POGO). Read More ...

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Unsettled Mechanism of Supernova Detonation Gets a New Twist
Type Ia supernovae, often used to calibrate cosmological measurements, may arise from merging white dwarfs, after all

When stellar cataclysms known as type Ia supernovae flare up far across the universe, their brightness and consistency allow astronomers to use them as so-called standard candles to measure cosmological distances. Just over a decade ago, two teams used the supernovae to show that the universe is accelerating in its expansion due to the influence of dark energy, a shocking discovery that thrust type Ia supernovae into the astrophysical limelight. But how exactly did these cosmic mileposts come to be?


A type Ia supernova arises from the explosion of an ultradense stellar remnant known as a white dwarf, but it is less than clear how the white dwarf comes to ignite in a thermonuclear blast. The traditional view held that a white dwarf, locked in a binary pairing with another star, sucked matter from its companion, growing ever larger in size until it could no longer support its own weight. Once a white dwarf reaches the Chandrasekhar limit, roughly 1.4 times the mass of the sun, it contracts and explodes in a massive blast. But a new study presents evidence that, for at least one kind of galaxy, the binary-accretion model should not be more than a minor contributor to the observed type Ia supernovae population. Marat Gilfanov, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (M.P.A.) in Garching, Germany, and the Space Research Institute in Moscow, along with M.P.A. graduate student Ákos Bogdán looked at elliptical galaxies for x-rays expected to arise during the accretion process. In a study published in the February 18 issue of Nature, Gilfanov and Bogdán report that they found just a fraction of the x-rays expected from white dwarfs accreting matter from their neighbors. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) The standard path to type Ia supernovae, the study's authors wrote, should have produced 30 to 50 times the x-rays observed, indicating that accreting white dwarfs account for less than 5 percent of the explosions.

 



As a white dwarf draws off hydrogen-rich material from a binary companion over millions of years, Gilfanov says, it experiences a steady process of nuclear fusion on its surface that gives off tremendous amounts of radiation. That radiation should be detectable in the x-ray band, although interstellar gas and dust would absorb some of it. That is why the researchers focused on elliptical galaxies, which have less obscuring material than spiral and irregular ones. Gilfanov says they are now working on characterizing the type Ia progenitors in other galactic types, such as the spiral cousins of our own Milky Way.

Andrew Howell, a staff scientist with the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network in Santa Barbara, Calif., says that alternative origins for type Ia supernovae are becoming more compelling. "The evidence has been building for years that the classical paradigm, the single-degenerate scenario, is not enough to explain every type Ia that we see," Howell says. The favored alternative at present is the so-called double-degenerate scenario, in which two white dwarfs locked in a binary pairing spiral inward and merge, triggering an explosion. Such an explosion, which would have more fuel to burn than a single detonated white dwarf, might explain certain bright supernovae that appear to be powered by an object above the Chandrasekhar mass.


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Howell says that these mergers have been less favored because it is difficult to make them work in a three-dimensional computer model, although recent work has offered promise. "Nature is telling us that these mergers happen, but we're not smart enough yet to figure out how this happens," he says.

The use of type Ia supernovae for cosmic distance measurements does not depend heavily on knowing the mechanism by which they detonate, so the new work will not unseat dark energy as a widely accepted component of the universe. But Howell notes that the mix of supernova brightnesses changes as astronomers look farther across the universe and, by extension, further back in time. Understanding the progenitors of the explosions might help unravel their evolution through cosmic time.

And Gilfanov says that resolving the underlying astrophysics of type Ia supernovae would help make standard-candle measurements more precise. "If we want to go from 10 percent to 1 percent [uncertainty] in measuring cosmological parameters," he says, astronomers need a better understanding of why white dwarfs explode in supernovae. "Dark energy will not go away, and the concept of standard candles will not go away," Gilfanov says. "It just gives us a better understanding and a better set of tools."

 

Birth of a Supernova Type 1a



Type Ia supernovae originate in binary star systems—systems where two stars orbit each other. In one possible scenario, there are two stars approximately the same size—let's say about the size of our sun. At a certain point in their lifetimes, each star will expand into a red giant, then turn into a white dwarf.


Most of the heat that a star generates comes about through nuclear reactions in its core. The reactions are triggered when the high pressure and temperature within the star cause hydrogen atoms to fuse together to form helium atoms. When a star this size runs out of hydrogen, its core begins to contract and its outer layers expand. The star becomes a red giant.


The red giant's core contracts, which generates enough heat to fuse its helium atoms into carbon. The nuclear fusion in turn creates other elements, including oxygen. Eventually, radiation generated within the star's core pushes the outer layers of the red giant away. Only the dense core remains: the star has become a white dwarf.


In time, the other star evolves into a red giant. As its outer layers expand far out from the core, it becomes less and less dense. Now closer to the white dwarf, the gaseous material from the red giant feels the gravitational pull from the white dwarf and gets sucked in by its neighbor.


Now being fed by its companion star, the white dwarf pulls more and more stellar material into itself. When the mass of the white dwarf reaches 1.4 solar masses (40% more mass than that of our sun), a runaway nuclear chain reaction causes the entire white dwarf to explode. Because Type Ia supernovae always explode at 1.4 solar masses, they all have more or less the same characteristics, including how brightly they shine.


The light from the explosion is 15 billion times brighter than the sun (this is why we can see them from halfway across the universe). The white dwarf is completely obliterated. And what about the red giant? The outer atmosphere is swept away and, with the companion that held it in its orbit obliterated, the core of the red giant shoots off into space.

Supernovae Back Einstein's "Blunder"

When Albert Einstein was working on his equations for the theory of general relativity, he threw in a cosmological constant to bring the universe into harmonious equilibrium. But subsequent observations by Edwin Hubble proved that the universe was not static. Rather, galaxies were flying apart at varying speeds. Einstein abandoned the concept, calling it the biggest blunder of his life's work.

Observations in the 1990s, however, proved that the universe was not only flying apart, it was doing so faster and faster. This seemed to point to a dark energy filling space that actually repelled ordinary matter with its gravity, in contrast to all other known stuff, including dark matter. A number of theories have been developed to explain what this dark energy might be, including Einstein's long discarded cosmological constant.

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Now new observations from an international team of astronomers seem to show that dark energy is like the cosmological constant, unvarying throughout space and time. By measuring the distances to 71 far-off supernovae, the scientists were able to ascertain with a high degree of confidence that the effect dark energy exerts on supernovae light does not vary with distance. The researchers also plugged this data into a so-called equation of state, which measures the relationship between pressure and density, and found that dark energy must be less than -0.85--awfully close to Einstein's cosmological constant at -1. "Our observation is at odds with a number of theoretical ideas about the nature of dark energy that predict that it should change as the universe expands and, as far as we can see, it doesn't," says team member Ray Carlberg of the University of Toronto. The results will be published in a future issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The 71 supernovae observations are the results of just one year of an ongoing Supernova Legacy Survey being carried out using telescopes throughout the world, such as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Data collected over the next four years should improve the precision of the finding and help researchers determine more about the enigmatic nature of dark energy that seems to constitute at least 70 percent of the universe.

But the finding brings to the fore another question: the so-called cosmological coincidence. Observations like this one seem to prove that regular matter and dark energy have similar densities at precisely this moment in time, even though the density of matter has been declining steadily since the big bang. Even Einstein couldn't answer why that would be.


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How Quantum Effects Could Create Black Stars, Not Holes


Key Concepts

* Black holes are theoretical structures in spacetime predicted by the theory of general relativity. Nothing can escape a black hole’s gravity after passing inside its event horizon.
* Approximate quantum calculations predict that black holes slowly evaporate, albeit in a paradoxical way. Physicists are still seeking a full, consistent quantum theory of gravity to describe black holes.
* Contrary to physicists’ conventional wisdom, a quantum effect called vacuum polarization may grow large enough to stop a hole forming and create a “black star” instead.




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Black holes have been a part of popular culture for decades now, most recently playing a central role in the plot of this year’s Star Trek movie. No wonder. These dark remnants of collapsed stars seem almost designed to play on some of our primal fears: a black hole harbors unfathomable mystery behind the curtain that is its “event horizon,” admits of no escape for anyone or anything that falls within, and irretrievably destroys all it ingests.

To theoretical physicists, black holes are a class of solutions of the Einstein field equations, which are at the heart of his theory of general relativity. The theory describes how all matter and energy distort spacetime as if it were made of elastic and how the resulting curvature of spacetime controls the motion of the matter and energy, producing the force we know as gravity. These equations unambiguously predict that there can be regions of spacetime from which no signal can reach distant observers. These regions—black holes—consist of a location where matter densities approach infinity (a “singularity”) surrounded by an empty zone of extreme gravitation from which nothing, not even light, can escape. A conceptual boundary, the event horizon, separates the zone of intense gravitation from the rest of spacetime. In the simplest case, the event horizon is a sphere—just six kilometers in diameter for a black hole of the sun’s mass.

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