(TMU) – The shape of the universe is hard to get one’s head around, not only as a theoretical concept but as a mathematical one, yet it remains as one of the most important unanswered questions in physics. Determining the geometry of the universe, many scientists believe, will be fundamental to solving the mysteries of the cosmos.
New measurements of dark energy and cosmic expansion collected by a team of astronomers at the University of Portsmouth constitute the most precise data yet in this intellectual quest. This recently published data suggests the universe is spatially flat – not shaped like a bubble.
The team used a new method combining the study of cosmic voids (immense bubbles of space containing only a few galaxies) and relics of sound from the very early Universe, which scientists refer to as baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO). Previously, scientists attempting to chart cosmic expansion and dark energy used distant supernovae as beacons of measurement in the unfathomable depths of space.
The new method, helmed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey for over a decade, gathered data from over a million galaxies and quasars. The results seemingly accomplished two interrelated theoretical hurdles: 1) disconfirmed measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) by the Planck satellite, which suggested a bubble-like spherical universe, and 2) confirmed the (Hubble) model of a cosmological constant dark energy, which suggests a flat universe.
Additionally, the fresh data will likely help write a new chapter in our understanding of the evolution of dark energy and its effect on the universe.
“This result shows the power of galaxy surveys to pin down the amount of dark energy and how it evolved over the last billion years,” wrote Portsmouth cosmologist Seshadri Nadathur in a press release. “We’re making really precise measurements now and the data is going to get even better with new surveys coming online very soon.”
It should be noted that a “flat” universe doesn’t mean what your mind might visually conjure. Of the ten or more suggested shapes of the universe over the decades, they belong to three major geometric categories: flat, round, and hyperbolic. So “flat” is actually an umbrella term that could refer to a number of different topologies, including the “torus.”
In other words, even if our universe is flat, that doesn’t rule out it being bent into an involutional, hyperdynamic, donut-like shape known as the torus.
The question of whether the universe is spatially flat or round is one of the most contested questions in physics, right up there with whether the cosmos are “open” or “closed”. Eerily, some cosmologists say if recent measurements confirm that the universe is both flat AND “closed,” this would raise the prospect of physical reality wrapping around itself in an infinite loop.
But that’s for another day and another cup of coffee.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.