Stellar ultrasounds. Certain stars pulsate and can effectively be considered huge musical instruments: depending on their size and internal structure, they can oscillate at different frequencies, somewhat similar to spherical drums of different size, shape and material. The waves that propagate through the star can bring to surface precious information about the internal regions they crossed. This is similar to what seismologists do with the planet: they study at the surface waves excited by earthquakes to retrieve information about the structure and properties of the Earth’s inner regions they crossed. The waves crossing a star can be of different types, some are similar to sound waves, others to surf waves. Different waves probe different regions of the stellar plasma, so depending on which type of waves astronomers 'listen to', they can retrieve properties relative to different stellar depth. This is the basic idea behind the 'stellar ultrasound'. It turns out that the oscillations induced by these different types of waves can be encoded directly in the light of the star. This is awesome, because the sound can not travel in the vacuum that is the medium between stars, but light can. Also it travels much faster. This opens up a new branch of astronomy called "Asteroseismology", something only recently we started applying to large collections of stars because it requires observations from space. We can now determine the internal properties of thousands of stars. Some of these stars are thousands of light years away! And we found many surprises. The latest discovery is the potential ubiquity of ultra-strong magnetic fields hiding in the stellar cores. The stellar core is the region where thermonuclear reactions are at play, making the star shine and basically creating all the elements of which humans are made off as a byproduct (except Hydrogen). These magnetic fields are million of times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field, and can change completely the way a star lives and dies! For example, they might be playing a role in producing the brightest explosions in the cosmos... Stars are huge musical instruments, playing music with their starlight. This twinkling carries the secret story of their magnetic coresSource: - Science (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/350/6259/423.abstract), - Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v529/n7586/full/nature16171.html)
Thomas Edison has an impressive 2,332 worldwide patents. Some of his well-known inventions include the phonograph, motion pictures, and the magnetic iron ore separator. After the success of his first major invention, the quadruplex telegraph, Edison wanted to build his own laboratory so that he could continue to innovate. In 1875, he purchased around 34 acres in Raritan Township, NJ and built the "Invention Factory". By Spring 1876, the Invention Factory consisted of a main laboratory, ancillary buildings, a carpenters’ shop, carbon shed, and blacksmith shop. His first breakthrough at the Invention Factory, the phonograph, produced the first voice recording (“Mary Had a Little Lamb”) and earned Edison the title, “The Wizard of Menlo Park”.
The Hubble image of the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) is the official image celebrating the 26th anniversary of Hubble's launch into Earth orbit's. Since 1990 Hubble has been capturing awe-inspiring images of the Universe. Floating about 350 miles above the Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is able to take high-resolution images free of the image-distortion that occurs due to atmospheric turbulence. Hubble performs a full orbit around the Earth approximately every 95 minutes, and since its launch has completed 1.2 million observations. Among its many accomplishments, HST helped scientists determine the rate of expansion of the Universe.
Peer review is arguably necessary for effective communication amongst researchers. Authors, editors, and the public rely on peer review to ensure a first measure of trust in scientific communication. While peer review is considered to be integral in scholarly communication by most, its shortcomings are becoming evident. Former editor of JAMA and NEJM Drummond Rennie once said, "if peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market." Is this true? Does peer review, as it is done today, cause more harm than good?
How researchers communicate with one another and the world has changed very little over the last 350 years. Attempts to improve the process have been implemented throughout the years, not all of which have been to the benefit of research. Here we highlight some policies implemented by various publishers that we believe are antithetical to research communication and what we're doing to try to fix them.
During the night of August 11th, a meteor shower called ’Perseids’ might put up a memorable show. After the moon sets, which occurs around 1:00 AM local time, it might be possible to see up to 200 ’shooting stars’ per hour. Below, what you need to know about this astronomical event. WHAT IS A SHOOTING STAR? Despite their name, shooting stars are actually small rocks (meteoroids) falling towards the Earth due to our planet’s gravitational attraction. As they move rapidly through the atmosphere, they reach very high temperatures due to friction with air particles. This makes them burn and become visible to the human eye. The trail they leave is called ’Meteor’. Due to their tiny size, they usually almost completely burn in a fraction of a second. In some very exceptional cases, large meteors can continue the hot descent and hit the ground. If they also survive the crash, they get promoted immediately to the ’meteorites’ class. Generally speaking a meteoroid producing a meteor needs to be at least as large as a marble to reach the Earth and eventually become a meteorite. Some Burning facts: - Average meteorite velocity: 30000 miles/hour (48000 km/h) - Max temperature: 3000 F (1650 C) - The Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed 50000 years ago by an object 160 feet (50 meters) across - ... yes, impacts like the one that produced the Meteor Crater are extremely rare
RISE AND FALL OF THE BIGGEST DISCOVERY OF THE CENTURY HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF OPEN, COLLABORATIVE SCIENCE. On 17 March 2014 BICEP2, a South Pole based experiment aimed at studying the very first moments of the universe, made a sensational announcement. They claimed to have detected for the first time the signature of an extremely rapid expansion of space that occurred right after the universe’s birth. This expansion, also called inflation, is believed to be responsible for the existence of large-scale structures like clusters of galaxies, as well as to explain why the properties of the universe appear to be the same for all observers. If confirmed, the existence of inflation would represent the first evidence of a fundamental connection between gravity (general relativity) and quantum physics.
In 1937, just one year before suddenly disappearing under mysterious circumstances, a brilliant italian physicist named ETTORE MAJORANA predicted the existence of a very peculiar particle. Having the exciting property of being its own antiparticle (that is it simultaneosly behaves as matter and anti-matter) the elusive “MAJORANA PARTICLE” has been finally observed by a group of scientists at Princeton University . To achieve the important result they used a two-story-tall microscope to observe the end of a superconducting wire.
Tens of thousands of innovators met in Austin, Texas last week to discuss emerging tech, science, and innovation. It was the Interactive portion of South by Southwest (SxSW). Authorea was there. Among many great events, the MIT Media Lab presented “SOLVE”, an initiative set to bring together the most gifted researchers and innovators to identify and tackle challenges where new thinking and emerging technologies have the potential to make the world a better place. SOLVE identified four main themes: Learn, Cure, Fuel, Make.
FABIO, WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO GO WATCH AN ECLIPSE IN THE ARCTIC? I’ve been feeling this urge to visit the northernmost parts of Earth for a while now. My PhD in Stockholm gave me the opportunity to explore the Norwegian coastline and Lapland, but the Arctic was a different story. A sort of forbidden dream. Then last year I started a postdoc at Yale, in the research group led by John Wettlaufer, who’s an expert on sea ice and the Arctic. When I heard there was gonna be a total solar eclipse at Svalbard I knew I had to go. WHERE IS SVALBARD, EXACTLY? Svalbard is an archipelago situated about half way between continental Norway and the North Pole, and it is an outpost for research and arctic exploration. In Longyearbyen, a little city of about 2000 people, and Svalbard’s capital, there is the world’s northernmost institution for higher education and research: the University Center in Svalbard.
PREVIOUS “DRAKE EQUATION” – NEXT “FERMI PARADOX” We are thinking creatures living on a planet orbiting a pretty common star in a pretty common galaxy. Our home planet has been around for about 4.5 billion years, while the Universe is about 13.7 billion years old. We just learned that there are about 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 = 10²¹ planets potentially similar to the Earth in the cosmos, a number larger than the amount of grains of sand found on every beach and every desert on Earth. ARE WE ALONE? To answer this question in 1961 scientist Frank Drake formulated his famous equation, which I discussed in the previous post of this series. The Drake equation calculates the number N of communicative civilizations in our Galaxy. In its 2015 form it reads: N ≈ 2 fl fi fc L
In this short post series I try to tackle one of the biggest questions out there: ARE WE ALONE? The reasoning leads to some radical implications for the VERY NEAR FUTURE OF HUMANKIND. Read till the end and feel free to comment as you go. Hopefully this will spark interesting discussions. 1. Habitable Planets How many habitable planets exist in the Universe? 2. The Drake Equation How to estimate the number of technological civilizations in our Galaxy? 3. Astrobiology Is biological life common in the Universe? 4. The Fermi Paradox Is intelligent life common in the Universe? And if yes, does it last? 5. Interactive Drake Equation Use your own intuition to calculate the chance of being alone or not
NEW YORK – Last June, a dedicated global team of Ebola researchers began an ambitious project to track the virus using large-scale genome sequencing. Their research, which was written on the research platform Authorea and published June 18 in the journal Cell , reveals critical information about how the virus traveled and mutated over seven months of the recent Ebola outbreak. Today Authorea is pleased to announce that the working draft, data, workflows, and full edit history of the paper are available to the public for free on Authorea. This is the first time that such complete details have ever been released for a scientific paper. This release provides unprecedented transparency and detail, empowering students and researchers to review every change and edit to every word during the writing of this landmark research paper, using Authorea’s “History” feature. “When we planned this study, our team decided to make our work as open and transparent as possible, and writing the paper on Authorea is part of that,” said co-lead author Daniel Park. “We felt a moral imperative to put everything out there, especially in this kind of emergency situation.” “Authorea was founded to make researchers’ day-to-day tasks easier,” says Authorea co-founder and Harvard Research Associate Alberto Pepe. “We realized we were wasting time emailing around documents and data. So we built a website where everyone could write and edit in the same place.” But Authorea also supports a bigger goal: making science more open. The platform is free to use for open research. “We encourage scientists to publish their entire research process: writing, data, and discussion,” said Dr. Pepe. “The default stance is often to be closed, and we encourage more openness and transparency.” Researchers in life sciences and other fields often withhold their raw data for months before and even after publishing, according to recent surveys. This practice has questionable utility, as it slows the pace of research, makes it less reproducible, and erodes public trust in science. “Open access saves lives,” said Professor Peter Suber from the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project, which were not involved with the Cell Ebola study. “Research saves lives, and when access is unaffordable or delayed, the access barriers put lives at risk. This is especially true in a crisis like Ebola where time is of the essence.”
Friday June 26, 2016. Today is a great day for human rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. This decision reflects a shift in American public opinion: according to recent polls, 60% of Americans now support same-sex marriage. As a company devoted to promoting openness and collaboration, Authorea feels strongly this is an important step in the right direction. Obviously, sharing the ups and downs of life with another person is an immensely more important and complex task than writing a collaborative paper. Yet if we can draw a parallel, we might say that a useful measure of the progress of a society, and humankind in general, is its ability to share and care openly, together. That’s the way to unlock society’s true potential, and foster creativity and love. Happy writing. Happy loving. Authorea
THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN Science is going through a rapid phase of transformation. Two important trends are emerging: 1. Research is becoming more complex, requiring larger collaborations and bigger experiments. 2. Science and technology increasingly affect modern society. The first trend is easy to understand. Let’s think of the cumulative knowledge of humankind as a sphere. Scientists work at the surface and try to “push the boundary”. Discovery increases the volume of knowledge. As the sphere’s volume grows, so does its surface area. Therefore an ever increasing number of researchers is required to tessellate the expanding cutting-edge of science. Moreover, contrary to a few hundred years ago when the sphere of knowledge was so small that a single polymath could master large chunks of it, nowadays no human can understand the details of more than a few research topics. To capture the bigger picture and understand very complex research questions, collaborative efforts combining together a number of highly specific expertises are required.
There is on average one planet orbiting every star in the Universe. Our Galaxy (the Milky Way) is an immense disk of gas and stars with a diameter of about 100 000 light years, hosting about 100 billion stars and, therefore, also about 100 billion planets. Take a deep breath. Now, it turns out the Milky Way is just one of 100 billion galaxies that populate our Universe, a colossal expanding stretch of spacetime with an age of 13.7 billion years. The math is trivial: There are about 10 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 = 10²² planets out there. This number is extremely large. Apparently larger than the number of grains of sand found in every beach and every desert on Earth. But how many of these planets host life? And in particular, how many planets host intelligent life we might be able to communicate with? RSVP and join us for our second official NEW YORK OPEN SCIENCE MEETUP. Check this blog post series if you wanna know more. This event is supported by Authorea.com, Minds.com and the Bitcoin Center NYC.