Astronomy / Astrophysics

Blogs about astronomy and / or astrophysics

A map of the habitats of the various human species

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the results of a research on the correlation between climate changes that occurred over the last two million years and the evolution of human beings. A team of researchers led by Axel Timmermann, director of the IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP) at Pusan ​​National University, South Korea, used ICCP’s Aleph supercomputer to simulate climate history. The results were compared with the largest database of human fossils and archaeological artifacts built under the direction of Pasquale Raia of the University of Naples Federico II, Italy. The result was that the best habitats for the human species that existed in these two million years match the climatic changes caused by the oscillation of the Earth’s axis and the periodic changes in the shape of the Earth’s orbit.

Gregory Benford in 2008

Gregory Albert Benford was born on January 30, 1941 in Mobile, Alabama, USA. In 1965, Gregory Benford started the science fiction fanzine “Void” with his twin brother Jim. In the same year he published his first short story, “Stand-In” in the “Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”. In 1969 he began writing a science column for “Amazing Stories”. This combined his work as a science fiction writer with the one as a scientist as Benford worked as a researcher in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics and was among the authors of over 200 scientific articles.

Because of his education, he has always tried to develop scientifically plausible stories that are interesting at the same time. For this reason, he wrote works in which the technical-scientific side is strongly developed using it to create stories in which, for example, there are intriguing aliens. In recent years his activity as a writer is limited, but he has written works of such value as to place him among the great science fiction writers.

Gravitational lens candedates

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal” reports the identifications of 335 new gravitational lens candidates discovered using machine learning software trained for this task. A team of astrophysicists led by Xiaosheng Huang of the University of San Francisco submitted images from the DECaLS investigation obtaining 335 possible gravitational lenses so far unknown. The verification will be carried out by humans, and 60 candidates have been included in the group that has the most chances of being confirmed. Gravitational lenses help astronomers in observing very far objects behind them, so the more are known the more likely they can be useful in some research.

Freeman Dyson in 2007

The physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson passed away yesterday, February 28. His daughter Mia confirmed the news explaining that her father got injured after falling in his office in Princeton last Wednesday and complications led to his death.

In addition to theoretical studies, Freeman Dyson pursued various technological projects starting with the Orion Project, which aimed to build a nuclear-powered rocket, and subsequently to a class of nuclear reactors called TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) for the production of isotopes for medical use.

Over the years, Freeman Dyson wrote articles that proposed ideas and projects such as the Dyson sphere, a structure built to completely surround a star to use all the energy it emits, and the Dyson tree, a plant created by engineering genetics to grow on a comet useful to create space habitats in which it would generate oxygen. Recently he proposed a variant of this project with the idea of ​​creating plants that absorbed more carbon dioxide.

Perhaps the impact point of the largest young meteorite that struck Earth about 790,000 years ago was discovered

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” reports a study offering evidence that the impact point of the largest young meteorite that struck the Earth, about 790,000 years ago, is under a volcanic complex in today’s Laos, in the Bolaven plateau. A team of researchers collected geological evidence related to minerals such as tektites in the area and to the mapping and dating of basaltic lavas, from local gravitational measurements, and from the presence of a outcrop of crudely layered sandstone and mudstone boulders 10 to 20 kilometers from the area.