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Massive Neutrinos Solve A Cosmological Conundrum

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Galaxy2-Cropped-445x124_smScientists have solved a major problem with the current standard model of cosmology by combining results from the Planck spacecraft and measurements of gravitational lensing to deduce the mass of ghostly sub-atomic particles called neutrinos.

The team, from the universities of Nottingham and Manchester, used observations of the Big Bang and the curvature of space-time to accurately measure the mass of these elementary particles for the first time.

The recent Planck spacecraft observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) – the fading glow of the Big Bang – highlighted a discrepancy between these cosmological results and the predictions from other types of observations.

The CMB is the oldest light in the Universe, and its study has allowed scientists to accurately measure cosmological parameters, such as the amount of matter in the Universe and its age. But an inconsistency arises when large-scale structures of the Universe, such as the distribution of galaxies, are observed.

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NASA Mars Orbiters See Clues To Possible Water Flows

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHU-APL

NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars have returned clues for understanding seasonal features that are the strongest indication of possible liquid water that may exist today on the Red Planet.

The features are dark, finger-like markings that advance down some Martian slopes when temperatures rise. The new clues include corresponding seasonal changes in iron minerals on the same slopes and a survey of ground temperatures and other traits at active sites. These support a suggestion that brines with an iron-mineral antifreeze, such as ferric sulfate, may flow seasonally, though there are still other possible explanations.

Researchers call these dark flows “recurring slope lineae.” As a result, RSL has become one of the hottest acronyms at meetings of Mars scientists.

“We still don’t have a smoking gun for existence of water in RSL, although we’re not sure how this process would take place without water,” said Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta,

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