Courtesy Public domain via Wikipedia This cool evolution timeline is really fascinating and fun to mess around with. I'm guessing Charles Darwin would agree it's a vast improvement over the one that appeared in Punch Almanac in1882 when he was still alive (see image at right). This new one was created by John Kyrk, a biology-trained artist in San Francisco in collaboration with Dr. Uzay Sezen, a plant biologist from the University of Georgia. The timeline is available in several languages and would be very useful in a classroom setting when studying evolution and paleontology.
The site is interactive and follows the evolution of our universe from the Big Bang to the present. You start it by clicking and sliding the red pyramid on the right. As you scroll across the timeline, various events in the history of the Universe, Solar System and ultimately, the Earth show up on the screen. All along, links also appear that either explain concepts or show examples of them. In the upper left hand corner is a menu linking you to several corollary Flash animations by Kyrk explaining cell biology and how RNA, DNA, cells, water, and other basic elements of life (including viruses) operate. Kyrk thinks animated illustrations are very useful in teaching and remembering ideas and concepts.
All the phases of Earth’s formation and development are covered in the evolution timeline, including the Late Heavy Bombardment, Snowball Earth, Cambrian Explosion, stromatolites, photosynthesis and iron formation. Once life begins to rise up, your computer screen will run amok with Earth’s diverse species populations from the one-celled animals, trilobites and fish to amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and mammals – the whole shooting match. All the major extinction events are shown, too.
The site also contains a link to this YouTube video version of someone else working the timeline so you can just sit back and watch how it happens, But I recommend working the interactive page yourself. A lot more happens and is available than the video allows you to see. Note that you’ll need Flash for it to run on your computer.
I wonder how Darwin would have reacted if he were able to see his theory illustrated in this way?
In this recent Ted Talk, historian David Christian of the Australian Academy of the Humanities lays out a Big History of the universe from the Big Bang to the internet, complete with many thresholds and all sorts of complexity.
Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory A heavy isotope of antihydrogen was created at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) on Long Island, New York. This antihydrogen isotope was heavier than the previous antimatter record-holder, antihelium. I say "was", because it only lasted a few hundred trillionths of a second.
To make the antimatter, physicists smashed two gold nuclei against each other with enormous energies. The data resulting from the collision "literally looked like haystacks". Sophisticated software was used to make sense out of the debris and pick out the new antimatter.
To form the new antihydrogen isotope, first an antistrange quark binds with an antiup and antidown quark to make an antilambda -- an antineutron-like particle. The antilambda, which is fractionally heavier than a neutron, must then combine with a conventional antineutron and an antiproton. The chances of this happening are very slim: out of 100 million collisions, RHIC generated just 70 of the new antihydrogen isotopes.
Studying the properties of antinuclei such as these might help physicists study the primordial form of matter that existed in the universe shortly after the Big Bang and why the Universe is full of matter rather than antimatter.
Heavy antimatter created in gold collisions Scientific American
And, let’s face it, who hasn’t had the urge now and then? At the “Quantum to Cosmos” physics conference in Waterloo, Canada, seven physicists were asked, "What keeps you awake at night?" (Apparently, they meant “what issue in science” as opposed to love, money, or lack thereof.) The panel came up with some pretty heavy questions:
Why are the fundamental laws of nature the way that they are? There doesn’t seem to be any reason why they couldn’t be some other way. Are there, perhaps, other universes with other rules?
How does the Observer Effect work? This is a little deep for me, but apparently at the sub-atomic level, simply observing a particle over here can effect another particle thousands of miles away. How does nature do that?
What is the nature of matter, anyway? Especially the “dark matter” which is theorized to exist in outer space, messing up all our gravity calculations.
On a related note, will string theory ever be proven? String theory is the latest theory for how matter and energy interact at the sub-sub-sub-atomic level. And while it is very elegant and seems right on paper, no one has any idea how to conduct an experiment to prove or disprove it.
How do complex systems arise out of simple, basic particles and forces? You know, complex systems. Like life, the universe, and everything.
How did the universe begin, anyway? Physics can only take us back to a few fractions of a second after the Big Bang, a moment at which the universe was very small, very hot, and very dense. Before that, the laws of physics break down. No one knows how to describe the Bang itself, or how / why it happened.
Which brings us to, what are the limits of science? Science is based on observation and experiment. But, at some point, you run into ideas that can’t be tested. In theory, it’s entirely possible that there are other universes. But we’re stuck in this one—how would we ever know?
If anyone has answers to any of these questions, please send them to Canada ASAP. It sounds like there’s a bunch of scientists up there who could use a good night’s sleep.
So if the universe was created by the big bang... then that would mean that from entropy came order. Does that mean that a messy room or desk could create a whole new universe?
If that is the case, what type of universe would be created from your room or desk? What new life forms or environments would there be?
Based on my desk and the mess of papers I feel that my new universe would be very difficult to locate things in... like those caves that have tunnels that you can get lost in.
A few days ago we posted a link to an article about a push within the Church of England to apologize for its actions of the past that were critical of Charles Darwin's emerging theories of evolution 150 years ago. Now here's word that top Roman Catholic officials are saying that there is room for evolution is "more than a theory" and that there is room for it in the creation story. I believe Sarah Palin is still a creationist, however.
Anyway, University of Minnesota astronomy professor Lawrence Rudnick and his research team has discovered an area in space – check that – a HUGE area in space where there seems to be a tremendous amount of nothing. Empty space. No stars, no planets, no dust, no dark matter, no Big Bang residual microwave energy, no nothing. I mean, yes nothing. And plenty of it.
"This is 1,000 times the volume of what we sort of expected to see in terms of a typical void," said Prof. Rudnick.
There’s evidently so much of it, in fact, that if you were able to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second – or about 5.8 trillion miles per year) – it would take you about a billion years to cross it. Talk about a snooze-fest. I’d be completely bored to tears after the first two or three years.
But it seems appropriate that Rudnick be the one to discover this vast emptiness, since he seems to specialize in nothing.
He’s been teaching at the University of Minnesota since 1979, and has offered first year seminars in “Nothing”, bringing in experts to instruct his students on how “nothingness” is used or applied in various fields.
"It has a little bit of philosophy. I bring in people in different fields to talk about nothing in their fields. I've had artists come and talk about minimalist art, interior designers to talk about designing empty spaces,” Rudnick said. “I've had a blind person come and talk about seeing nothing and what does that mean."
Rudnick’s discovery came out of studying radio picture data of the universe taken from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The area studied is located in the constellation Eridanus near the foot of Orion, and showed a distinct drop in temperature and lack of matter, up to 45% less matter.
Even though it’s really nothing, Rudnick remains modestly philosophical about it.
"It's not going to be tomorrow's pacemaker or anything like that," he said. "It is, however, part of the story of how we got here."
Rudnick’s research is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal.
Astrophysicists have deduced the age of the Universe (dated from the Big Bang) to be 13.7 BILLION YEARS!
If this time line were compressed into one year, each month would be about one a billion years. What follows is a look at when import events occur during this "cosmic Year".
We have planetary exploration, computers and AI, nanotechnology, global culture, and weapons of mass destruction.
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