Science

Inside Stephen Hawking's $100 Million Search For Alien Life

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Stephen Hawking is ready to find aliens. The cosmologist is throwing his support behind a $100 million initiative, funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, to begin an extensive search for proof of extraterrestrial life.

Why measure the polarisability of the pion?

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The strong interaction not only binds quarks into protons and neutrons, it also binds protons and neutrons into nuclei. Inside those nuclei, pions - made up of a quark and an antiquark - mediate the interaction. Strong interaction theory makes a precise prediction on the polarisability of pions – the degree to which their oppositely-charged constituents can be separated in an electromagnetic field.

Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics

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Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a new study that suggests these brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before.

OPERA Confirms and Submits Results, But Unease Remains

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New high-precision tests carried out by the OPERA collaboration in Italy broadly confirm its claim, made in September, to have detected neutrinos travelling at faster than the speed of light. The collaboration today submitted its results to a journal, but some members continue to insist that further checks are needed before the result can be considered sound.

Astronomers Spot the Universe's First Gas

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The chemistry of the cosmos today is not what it used to be. The stars and planets and interstellar gas around us are laced with carbon, oxygen, and many other elements heavier than hydrogen and helium - the only substances to have existed for a few hundred million years after the big bang.

Earth Oceans Were Homegrown

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Where did Earth's oceans come from? Astronomers have long contended that icy comets and asteroids delivered the water for them during an epoch of heavy bombardment that ended about 3.9 billion years ago.

Chemists re-define hydrogen bond

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The hydrogen bond is a wondrous thing. It helps give snowflakes their hexagonal symmetry; binds DNA into a double helix; shapes the three-dimensional forms of proteins; and even raises water's boiling point high enough to make a decent cup of tea.

Asteroid crash would devastate ozone layer

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A mid-sized asteroid impact with the ocean could drastically deplete the ozone layer for many years, according to a team of US researchers. Such damage would expose the surface to levels of UV radiation up to three times more severe than anything currently recorded on Earth.

Graphene makes "supercapacitor"

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Researchers in the US have made the first high-frequency AC "supercapacitors" containing graphene electrodes. The devices, which are much smaller than conventional capacitors, could be used in applications like computer processing units and other tiny integrated circuits.

P ≠ NP? It's bad news for the power of computing

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Has the biggest question in computer science been solved? On 6 August, Vinay Deolalikar, a mathematician at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, California, sent out draft copies of a paper titled simply "P ≠ NP".

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