Big Bang evidence discovered: Scientists confirm gravitational waves

In the scientific discovery of the year, if not the decade, scientists have found the first images of gravitational waves: ripples in space-time that provide the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation.

The inflation, which has only been theory until now, is evidence of the extremely rapid expansion of the universe.

After 14bn years of the universe existing, the new findings by the BICEP2 collaboration, an international team of scientists, provide the most substantial evidence for the theory of the Big Bang.

Their work also provides the first images of gravitational waves – described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.”

The waves were the final untested prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity – which he predicted almost 100 years ago in 1916.

The news confirms heavy rumours from within the physics community about the team’s research, which they have checked and double checked for the last three years.

Their data also confirms a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

One of the project’s co-leaders, Clem Pryke, said: “This has been like looking for a needle in a haystack, but instead we found a crowbar.”

While not fully proving the Big Bang Theory happened, the team have proved that a huge expansion happened in space, which created the waves. The inflation theory is the most accepted model of how the Big Bang happened.

Harvard theorist Avi Loeb said: “This work offers new insights into some of our most basic questions: Why do we exist? How did the universe begin?

“These results are not only a smoking gun for inflation, they also tell us when inflation took place and how powerful the process was.”

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Gravitational waves squeeze space as they travel, and this squeezing produces a distinct pattern in the cosmic microwave background – a faint glow left over from the Big Bang.

As the cosmic microwave background is a form of light it contains all the properties of light, including polarisation.  The cosmic microwave was scattered by atoms and electrons and became polarised.

The scientists managed to find the waves after looking for a distinct pattern in the cosmic background.

“Our team hunted for a special type of polarization called ‘B-modes,’ which represents a twisting or ‘curl’ pattern in the polarised orientations of the ancient light,” said co-leader Jamie Bock (Caltech/JPL).

Cardiff University’s Professor Bangalore Sathyaprakash, a theoretical physicist who worked on the project, said: “This result is key to answering some of the biggest questions in cosmology.

“It provides insights into processes that took place in the early Universe, and just how violent the birth of the Universe was. It’s wonderful to see the realisation of the prediction that our esteemed colleague Leonid Grishchuk made back in 1975.”

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The results have been produced by a team of scientists and engineers who have been using the BICEP2 telescope based at the South Pole.

John Kovac, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said: “Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point.”

“The South Pole is the closest you can get to space and still be on the ground,” said Kovac. “It’s one of the driest and clearest locations on Earth, perfect for observing the faint microwaves from the Big Bang.”

The BICEP2 collaboration is funded by the National Science Foundation, US, and has involved work from University of California at San Diego, the University of British Columbia, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the University of Toronto, Cardiff University and Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique.


Images courtesy of Harvard/BICEP2.


Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag