We’ve long understood black holes to be the points at which the universe as we know it comes to an end. Often billions of times more massive than the Sun, they lurk in the inner sanctum of almost every galaxy of stars in the universe. They’re mysterious chasms so destructive and unforgiving that not even light can escape their deadly wrath.
Recent research, however, has led to a cascade of new discoveries that have revealed an entirely different side to black holes. As the astrophysicist Caleb Scharf reveals in Gravity’s Engines, these chasms in space-time don’t just vacuum up everything that comes near them; they also spit out huge beams and clouds of matter. Black holes blow bubbles.
With clarity and keen intellect, Scharf masterfully explains how these bubbles profoundly rearrange the cosmos around them. Engaging with our deepest questions about the universe, he takes us on an intimate journey through the endlessly colorful place we call our galaxy and reminds us that the Milky Way sits in a special place in the cosmic zoo—a “sweet spot” of properties. Is it coincidental that we find ourselves here at this place and time? Could there be a deeper connection between the nature of black holes and their role in the universe and the phenomenon of life? We are, after all, made of the stuff of stars.
The end of the year comes with the customary lists of the best and the worst that has happened over the course of the year. A selection of 2011…
Al Jazeera English: Al Jazeera top 10 2011
Android Police: All Android Police App Roundups From 2011 + Bonus: Tablet Apps
Big Think: 2011, The Year in Ideas
Bing: The Top 2011 Searches from Bing: A Year of Breakthroughs and Heartbreaks
CBC News: YouTube taps Maria Aragon, talking dog as top 2011 videos
Discover: Top 100 Stories of 2011
The Daily Climate: Climate coverage down again in 2011
Forbes: MF Global, American Airlines Top 2011′s Biggest Bankruptcies
Forbes/David DiSalvo: Ten Brain Science Studies from 2011 Worth Talking Abouts
ghacks: The Best Windows Software of 2011
The Globe and Mail: The Globe 100: The very best books of 2011
The Guardian/Charlie Brooker: A guide to the buzzwords of 2011
The Guardian: 2011: the year in data, journalism (and charts)
The Guardian: A dictionary of 2011
The Guardian: Bestselling books of 2011
IMDB: Most Popular Feature Films Released In 2011
Inside Social Games: Facebook Announces “Top” 2011 Games
MetaCritic: 25 Best PC Games
NatGeo: Ten Weirdest Life-forms of 2011: Editors’ Picks
TheNextWeb: Nielsen Reveals Top Digital Brands of 2011
NME: 2011 Reviewed – The Best Of Everything
NPR: Music And The Big Idea: The Top 5 Concept Albums Of 2011
NPR Music: Favorite New Artists Of 2011 with tracks to download
Paste Music: The 20 Best Cover Songs of 2011
Popular Science/MSNBC: 10 top inventions for 2011
Psychology Today/David DiSalvo: Ten Impressive Psychology Studies from 2011
Reuters: Whale sperm, orgasmic feet top 2011 bad science list
SciAm: The Top 10 Science Stories of 2011
SciAm: Duh! 11 Obvious Science Findings of 2011
Space.com: Year in Review: 2011 in Space Exploration
SPIN: SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2011
TheStar: The ABCs of 2011’s natural disasters
TheStar: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga top 2011 Twitter trends
Vancouver Sun: Layton’s death, Stanley cup riot among top 2011 Canadian news stories
Wikipedia: 2011 in film
Wired: Best of 2011: Pop Culture’s Tastiest Bits
More to follow through updates…
To commemorate the 2011 International Day of Peace, I thought it would be a nice idea to create a playlist that features all the songs of PJ Harvey‘s latest album Let England Shake. Its theme is war, so that makes it quite apposite for this day.
The album has generally garnered critical acclaim as well as PJ Harvey’s second Mercury Prize. Recorded in a 19th Century church in Dorset with long time collaborator Flood who co-produced the album with PJ Harvey, John Parish and Mick Harvey. Let England Shake was also mixed by Flood.
It was also accompanied by twelve videos for all the songs which were made by photographer and filmmaker Seamus Murphy. The playlist below contains all those videos in the order in which the songs appear on the album.
The songs are, in order (the links open up the lyrics for each song from pjharvey.net):
Let England Shake
The Last Living Rose
The Glorious Land
The Words That Maketh Murder
All And Everyone
On Battleship Hill
In The Dark Places
Hanging In The Wire
Written On The Forehead
The Colour Of The Earth
The titles in bold above were released as singles and contained the ‘B-sides’ The Nightingale and The Guns Called Me Back Again respectively.
A collection of the customary lists for 2010:
The Top Features of the Year 2010 (Nature)
Award-Winning Stories in Science (Science)
Breakthrough of the Year / Insights of the Decade (Science)
Readers’ choices: Top 10 stories of 2010 (Scientific American)
The weirdest of 2010′s Weird Science (Ars Technica)
Top 10 Stories of 2010 (Smithsonian Magazine)
The Top Dinosaur Discoveries of 2010 (Smithsonian Magazine)
Top Ten Evolution Stories of 2010 (NCSE)
‘Project Censored’ lists top stories that go unreported (CSMonitor)
Bad Faith Awards 2010 (New Humanist)
2010′s Worst Disasters in Photos (AOL News)
The Top 10 Everything of 2010 (Time)
Top 10 Windows downloads of 2010 (The Download Blog)
12 Best Internet Memes and Viral Videos of 2010 (Paste)
List of billionaires for 2010 (Forbes)
Hollywood’s Highest-Grossing Actors (Forbes)
Top Movies for 2010 (IMDB, Vanity Fair, Roger Ebert, Newsweek, NPR, NY Times, Carpetbagger)
Top 100 BitTorrent Searches of 2010
Top Music Albums of 2010 (All Music, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Spin, Pitchfork, Paste, NPR)
Top Books of 2010 (Publisher’s Weekly, Gawker)
2010 Notable Books for Children (Smithsonian Magazine)
Word of the Year 2010 (Merriam-Webster)
50 Wonderful Things From 2010 (NPR, Monkey See)
You’re Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade (HuffPo, pictures)
Top Lists 2010 (Google)
Kevin Warwick is an internationally renowned Professor and researcher in the field of Cybernetics from the University of Reading, England. His work in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, human control functions, robotics and cybernetic organisms presented here shows how implant and electrode technology can be used to create biological brains for robots, to enable human enhancement and possible therapeutic effects for neurological illness.
In any case, the end goal is human enhancement, or “transhumanism”, which inevitably stirs up many social, ethical and philosophical questions. Original source: http://bit.ly/bD48Uv (1h 41m)
The University of Reading was in the news recently with the story of another researcher infecting his implant with a (computer) virus…
Via BBC News:
Europe has chosen the place it wants to build the biggest telescope the world.
The observatory will be constructed on Cerro Armazones, a 3,000m-high mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
The E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) will have a primary mirror 42m in diameter – about five times the width of today’s best telescopes. (…)
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) organisation which is managing the project says it hopes the telescope can be operational by 2018.
The estimated cost is in the region of a billion euros.
The decision on the E-ELT site was taken by the ESO Council after several years of study at competing locations that included other places in Chile, and in the Canary Islands, Spain.
Cerro Armazones is just 20km from Cerro Paranal, where ESO operates its Very Large Telescope facility – a suite of interconnected telescopes that includes four units with primary mirrors measuring 8.2m.
Like Paranal, Armazones will enjoy near-perfect observing conditions – at least 320 nights a year when the sky is cloudless. The Atacama’s famous aridity means the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is very limited, reducing further the perturbation starlight experiences as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.
Coming up with a workable design has been a challenge. It is impossible to make a monolithic mirror on such a scale and so the primary reflecting surface will be composed of 984 hexagonal segments, each 1.45m in size.
The E-ELT will thus be able to gather 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes operating today. It will also provide images 15 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. (…)