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Astronomers Giddy Over What They Call A Cosmic ‘Dinosaur Egg’ About To Hatch

cosmic dinosaur egg
The Antennae galaxies, shown in visible light in a Hubble image (upper image), were studied with ALMA, revealing extensive clouds of molecular gas (center right image). One cloud (bottom image) is incredibly dense and massive, yet apparently star free, suggesting it is the first example of a prenatal globular cluster ever identified.

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

A dense cloud of gas 50 million light-years away has astronomers buzzing, and they're using all sorts of strange metaphors to get the rest of us to pay attention.

They've discovered what they think may be a globular cluster -- a big ball of up to one million stars -- on the verge of being born.

“This remarkable object looks like it was plucked straight out of the very early universe," Dr. Kelsey Johnson, an astronomer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and lead author on a paper about the research, said in a written statement. "To discover something that has all the characteristics of a globular cluster, yet has not begun making stars, is like finding a dinosaur egg that’s about to hatch.”

cosmic egg
ALMA image of dense cores of molecular gas in the Antennae galaxies. The round yellow object near the center may be the first prenatal example of a globular cluster ever identified. It is surrounded by a giant molecular cloud.

Johnson and her colleagues spotted the bizarre object, which they call the "Firecracker," using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the Atacama desert in Chile. It's located inside a pair of interacting galaxies known to scientists as NGC 4038/NGC 4039, or The Antennae Galaxies.

The Firecracker has a mass that's 50 times that of our sun, and is under an enormous amount of pressure -- roughly 10,000 times greater than the average pressure in interstellar space. According to the researchers, this makes it a good candidate for collapsing into a globular cluster within the next million years.

What do other scientists make of the discovery? Dr. Alison Peck, ALMA scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, who was not involved in the new research, called it "important" and said she was "really excited to hear about these results."
She told The Huffington Post in an email:
"One of the things that we all yearn to understand is how our surroundings formed, how our galaxy and our solar system came to be. To do this, since we can’t actually watch things change over time, (it just takes too long), we need to find similar objects at different stages of development and compare them. What Dr. Johnson’s team have found here is an analog of an object that we look for in the very early universe, but they’ve found it so close by that we’ll be able to make extremely detailed observations and find out much more about the physical conditions in this exciting region."
The research is set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal. 

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6 Ways to Overcome a Soul-Crushing Life Challenge

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com

It was never in your life plan, certainly never predicted in your high school yearbook.
And yet, here you are. You've gone through a soul-sucking life experience and are suffering from the collateral consequences. Uncertainty, fear and disbelief rule the day. You keep waiting to wake up and find out this was all a bad dream.
The problem is that wishing, wanting and waiting don't help. Whether you're still in the midst of the storm or idling in the aftermath, the truth is that you have to reach down and make the decision that although you may have had no control over what happened to you, you do have control over how you respond and move forward. These six tips will help start you on that journey:
1. Don't Compare Your Blooper Reel to Other's Highlight Reel
At times it may seem like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Social media exacerbates this perception because people tend to show only their green patch of lawn and not their backyard full of weeds!

Wouldn't it be refreshing to see someone's perfect vacation pictures captioned: "Don't know how we're really going to pay for this; We're up to our ears in debt! The kids got carsick and puked in the rental car, and Jack and I haven't had sex for weeks! Wish you were here!"
The grass isn't always greener. Everyone has something in life they wish they could undo, redo or erase. They just don't post it on Facebook.
2. Realize That Sometimes You Have No Control Over What Happens to You
Like the saying goes, life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. I truly believe that things happen for you rather than to you to nudge you into growth. When something unexpected happens, ask yourself "What's the lesson here?"

3. Surrender to Your Situation
Surrendering doesn't mean giving in; it simply means you stop fighting the fact that the situation happened. Accept the fact that it occurred, that it sucks, and that yes, it probably was unfair and undeserved.

When you continually try to fight against a situation, it's like trying to swim against a rip current. You can fight it and end up exhausted and pulled out to sea, or you can accept that it is done, swim parallel to it and overcome it. You cannot change what has already occurred but you can change how you respond to it. This is the tipping point to taking your power back.
4. Understand That Your Coping Mechanisms May Be Holding You Hostage
It is natural to feel disbelief, anger and sadness, and to want to blame others for what you are going through. These coping mechanisms are designed to help you deal with the situation at hand. They are also a defense mechanism, a way to push back on the reality of the situation.

The problem is, when you get stuck defending, denying, and blaming, you form an endless loop of negative thoughts that won't stop spinning in your head. The part of your brain that is controlling the loop is your ego. When you learn to harness your ego, you can transform the way you think and move past these self-destructive thoughts.
5. Harness Your Ego
Your ego is part of your consciousness, and it competes with your higher self, or spirit, for control of your thoughts. Your ego is fear-based and your higher self is love-based. The two cannot coexist because the higher self simply does not recognize fear. Think of the ego as the darkness and the higher self as the light switch; once the light goes on darkness cannot exist.

The ego thrives on fear and separation in order to control your thoughts. It causes you to think you need to be better because you're not good enough or are lacking in some way. The egoic brain creates this fear of inferiority and you react by putting others down as a way to raise your sense of self-worth up.
You can recognize your ego at work when you are critical or judgmental of others, when you take on the role of victim, or when you blame others rather than looking inward. When you feel self-important, when you feel the need to be right, and when anger, jealousy, and self-importance take center stage, that's your ego, and it isn't helping you. It creates a false sense of self.
Once you are aware that your ego is talking, you have begun the process of winning the mind chatter war in your head. Your awareness helps you realize that you no longer have to react to the fear it is creating. Your thoughts are not you but are of the ego. Remember that your ego and your higher self cannot co-exist; When you recognize the ego it has to take a back seat to your higher self. You then can move above these thoughts and shift your perspective from negative thoughts to ones that serve you positively.
6. Create Calm and Gratitude
The ego loves for you to focus on your past, on what you lost. What if you shift the way you look at your situation and focus on what you gained as a result?

What did you learn as a result of the trial? Are you more compassionate, less judgmental? Is your house calmer or cleaner? Did you start taking better care of yourself emotionally or physically? Are you finally putting yourself first?
Focusing on what you are grateful for instead of what you lost is a mindset that creates a calmer, happier you. And that is something to be grateful for!
Tired of feeling like you'll never be happy again? Mary Holloway empowers women to reach down and find their inner warrior. Mary is a sought after speaker, resilience coach, and most importantly, a survivor of soul crushing life experiences. She is the founder of Resilience Café and the creator of the Boom Bounce Wow Resilience Method. Mary believes that every woman has an incredible warrior within her that can help her take back her life and emerge better, stronger, happier, and surprisingly thankful for the experience. She knows that women can choose not to be defined by their situation but rather by how they respond to it.
Follow Mary at ResilienceCafe.com...

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How Your Mind Affects Your Body

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comWe are at last beginning to show that there is an intimate and dynamic relationship between what is going on with our feelings and thoughts and what happens in the body. A Time magazine special showed that happiness, h...

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13 Things Anyone Who Loves A Highly Sensitive Person Should Know

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.com When I was in kindergarten, a boy in my class tossed my favorite book over our elementary school fence. I remember crying profusely, not because I was sad to see it go, but because I was so furious that he was s...

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Best friends: 22 photos of babies meeting pets for the first time

From today.com  After a long week, there's nothing better than a healthy dose of cuteness.  Inspired by the sweet moment when TODAY anchor Savannah Guthrie's baby,...

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IBM advances bring quantum computing closer to reality

ibm research jerry chow
Research scientist Jerry Chow performs a quantum computing experiment at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Jon Simon/IBM

Excerpt from computerworld.com
By Sharon Gaudin

IBM scientists say they have made two critical advances in an industrywide effort to build a practical quantum computer, shaving years off the time expected to have a working system.

"This is critical," said Jay Gambetta, IBM's manager of theory of quantum computing. "The field has got a lot more competitive. You could say the [quantum computing] race is just starting to begin… This is a small step on the journey but it's an important one."

Gambetta told Computerworld that IBM's scientists have created a square quantum bit circuit design, which could be scaled to much larger dimensions. This new two-dimensional design also helped the researchers figure out a way to detect and measure errors.
Quantum computing is a fragile process and can be easily thrown off by vibrations, light and temperature variations. Computer scientists doubt they'll ever get the error rate down to that in a classical computer.

Because of the complexity and sensitivity of quantum computing, scientists need to be able to detect errors, figure out where and why they're happening and prevent them from recurring.

IBM says its advancement takes the first step in that process.
"It tells us what errors are happening," Gambetta said. "As you make the square [circuit design] bigger, you'll get more information so you can see where the error was and you can correct for it. We're showing now that we have the ability to detect, and we're working toward the next step, which would allow you to see where and why the problem is happening so you can stop it from happening."

Quantum computing is widely thought to be the next great step in the field of computing, potentially surpassing classical supercomputers in large-scale, complex calculations. 

Quantum computing would be used to cull big data, searching for patterns. It's hoped that these computers will take on questions that would lead to finding cures for cancer or discovering distant planets – jobs that might take today's supercomputers hundreds of years to calculate.

IBM's announcement is significant in the worlds of both computing and physics, where quantum theory first found a foothold.

Quantum computing, still a rather mysterious technology, combines both computing and quantum mechanics, which is one of the most complex, and baffling, areas of physics. This branch of physics evolved out of an effort to explain things that traditional physics is unable to.

With quantum mechanics, something can be in two states at the same time. It can be simultaneously positive and negative, which isn't possible in the world as we commonly know it. 

For instance, each bit, also known as a qubit, in a quantum machine can be a one and a zero at the same time. When a qubit is built, it can't be predicted whether it will be a one or a zero. A qubit has the possibility of being positive in one calculation and negative in another. Each qubit changes based on its interaction with other qubits.

Because of all of these possibilities, quantum computers don't work like classical computers, which are linear in their calculations. A classical computer performs one step and then another. A quantum machine can calculate all of the possibilities at one time, dramatically speeding up the calculation.

However, that speed will be irrelevant if users can't be sure that the calculations are accurate.

That's where IBM's advances come into play.

"This is absolutely key," said Jim Tully, an analyst with Gartner. "You do the computation but then you need to read the results and know they're accurate. If you can't do that, it's kind of meaningless. Without being able to detect errors, they have no way of knowing if the calculations have any validity."

If scientists can first detect and then correct these errors, it's a major step in the right direction to building a working quantum computing system capable of doing enormous calculations. 

"Quantum computing is a hard concept for most to understand, but it holds great promise," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "If we can tame it, it can compute certain problems orders of magnitude more quickly than existing computers. The more organizations that are working on unlocking the potential of quantum computing, the better. It means that we'll see something real that much sooner."
However, there's still debate over whether a quantum computer already exists.

A year ago, D-Wave Systems Inc. announced that it had built a quantum system, and that NASA, Google and Lockheed Martin had been testing them.

Many in the computer and physics communities doubt that D-Wave has built a real quantum computer. Vern Brownell, CEO of the company, avows that they have.

"I think that quantum computing shows promise, but it's going to be quite a while before we see systems for sale," said Olds.
IBM's Gambetta declined to speculate on whether D-Wave has built a quantum computing but said the industry is still years away from building a viable quantum system.

"Quantum computing could be potentially transformative, enabling us to solve problems that are impossible or impractical to solve today," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, in a statement.

IBM's research was published in Wednesday's issue of the journal Nature Communications.

quantum computing infographics ibm

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This revolutionary discovery could help scientists see black holes for the first time

supermassive black hole
Artist's concept of the black hole.

Excerpt from finance.yahoo.com
Of all the bizarre quirks of nature, supermassive black holes are some of the most mysterious because they're completely invisible.
But that could soon change.
Black holes are deep wells in the fabric of space-time that eternally trap anything that dares too close, and supermassive black holes have the deepest wells of all. These hollows are generated by extremely dense objects thousands to billions of times more massive than our sun.
Not even light can escape black holes, which means they're invisible to any of the instruments astrophysicists currently use. Although they don't emit light, black holes will, under the right conditions, emit large amounts of gravitational waves — ripples in spacetime that propagate through the universe like ripples across a pond's surface.
And although no one has ever detected a gravitational wave, there are a handful of instruments around the world waiting to catch one.

Game-changing gravitational waves

black hole
This illustration shows two spiral galaxies - each with supermassive black holes at their center - as they are about to collide. 

Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916. According to his theory of general relativity, black holes will emit these waves when they accelerate to high speeds, which happens when two black holes encounter one another in the universe.  

As two galaxies collide, for example, the supermassive black holes at their centers will also collide. But first, they enter into a deadly cosmic dance where the smaller black hole spirals into the larger black hole, moving increasingly faster as it inches toward it's inevitable doom. As it accelerates, it emits gravitational waves.
Astrophysicists are out to observe these waves generated by two merging black holes with instruments like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
"The detection of gravitational waves would be a game changer for astronomers in the field," Clifford Will, a distinguished profess of physics at the University of Florida who studied under famed astrophysicist Kip Thorne told Business Insider. "We would be able to test aspects of general relativity that have not been tested."
Because these waves have never been detected, astrophysicists are still trying to figure out how to find them. To do this, they build computer simulations to predict what kinds of gravitational waves a black hole merger will produce. 

Learn by listening

In the simulation below, made by Steve Drasco at California Polytechnic State University (also known as Cal Poly), a black hole gets consumed by a supermassive black hole about 30,000 times as heavy.
You'll want to turn up the volume.
What you're seeing and hearing are two different things.
The black lines you're seeing are the orbits of the tiny black hole traced out as it falls into the supermassive black hole. What you're hearing are gravitational waves.
"The motion makes gravitational waves, and you are hearing the waves," Drasco wrote in a blog post describing his work.
Of course, there is no real sound in space, so if you somehow managed to encounter this rare cataclysmic event, you would not likely hear anything. However, what Drasco has done will help astrophysicists track down these illusive waves.

Just a little fine tuning 

Gravitational waves are similar to radio waves in that both have specific frequencies. On the radio, for example, the number corresponding to the station you're listening to represents the frequency at which that station transmits.

3D visualization of gravitational waves produced by 2 orbiting black holes. Right now, astrophysicists only have an idea of what frequencies two merging black holes transmit because they’re rare and hard to find. In fact, the first ever detection of an event of this kind was only announced this month. 

Therefore, astrophysicists are basically toying with their instruments like you sometimes toy with your radio to find the right station, except they don’t know what station will give them the signal they’re looking for.
What Drasco has done in his simulation is estimate the frequency at which an event like this would produce and then see how that frequency changes, so astrophysicists have a better idea of how to fine tune their instruments to search for these waves.
Detecting gravitational waves would revolutionize the field of astronomy because it would give observers an entirely new way to see the universe. Armed with this new tool, they will be able to test general relativity in ways never before made possible.

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