Science & Technology


Higgs Boson could spell the end of the universe - Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking
© Reuters/Mike Hutchings
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
Higgs' elementary particle underpins existence in our universe might become unstable, warns renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The energy potential of the 'God particle' is so vital for the entire universe it could make the cosmos collide, he concludes.

In a preface to a new book he contributed to, which is essentially a collection of lectures gives by famous scientists and astronomers called 'Starmus', Hawking shared his concerns regarding the Higgs Boson, that Hawkins suspects of being unstable and potentially capable of decay.

"The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV)," Hawking wrote.

The imminent danger of that power potential is that it could end time any time soon!

"This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming," Hawking explained, acidly noting that "A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV would be larger than Earth, and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate."

Stephen Hawking knows so much he cannot be an optimist by definition. Having spooked the audience once with cruel aliens that could kill us all and with artificial intelligence going the Skynet way one day, and now he is promising the end of the universe. All due to the Higgs Boson elementary particle, which was recently discovered by physicists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider during staged experiments to find this long-ago predicted key element of the Standard Model of particle physics.

The field created by the Higgs Boson is believed to give mass to other particles by slowing their movement through the space vacuum. The existence of such particle was first predicted in the 1960s by British theoretical physicist, Peter Higgs, and six other scientists. However, the hypothesis was only confirmed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva in 2012.

Hawking's bitter attitude towards the Higgs Boson is understandable, the CNET media outlet recalls. The famous physicist lost a $100 bet that the Higgs particle could be unearthed, plus he made a statement after the Higgs particle was finally identified, that for him physics had become less interesting. After all, as the scientist shared earlier, he believes mankind only has 1,000 years left to leave Earth, anyway.
Blue Planet

Giant mountain discovered beneath Pacific Ocean

© Unknown
Credit: University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center.
Scientists have uncovered a giant mountain in the Pacific Ocean, with the summit of the seamount rising 1,100 meters from the 5,100-meter-deep ocean floor. The discovery was made around 2,600 kilometers south of Hawaii.

It was uncovered in mid-August by a research team, which was led by NOAA and University of New Hampshire scientist, James Gardner. The team was aiming to try and map the outer limits of the US continental shelf.

Gardner was surveying one of least known parts of the central Pacific Ocean, which was around 300 kilometers south east of uninhabited Jarvis Island. However, the seamount, which has yet to be named, appeared "out of the blue."

New study supports binary star system hypothesis!

The Kepler field of view, located between two bright stars in the summer triangle, rising over the WIYN telescope in southern Arizona.
( - Imagine living on an exoplanet with two suns. One, you orbit and the other is a very bright, nearby neighbor looming large in your sky. With this "second sun" in the sky, nightfall might be a rare event, perhaps only coming seasonally to your planet. A new study suggests that this could be far more common than we realized.

The NASA Kepler Space Telescope has confirmed about 1000 exoplanets, as well as thousands more stars considered "Kepler objects of interest", dubbed KOIs - stars that could possibly host planets.

Until now, there has been an unanswered question about exoplanet host stars; how many host stars are binaries? Binary stars have long been known to be commonplace - about half the stars in the sky are believed to consist of two stars orbiting each other. So, are stars with planets equally likely to have a companion star, or do companion stars affect the formation of planets?

A team of astronomers, led by Dr. Elliott Horch, Southern Connecticut State University, have shown that stars with exoplanets are just as likely to have a binary companion: that is, 40% to 50% of the host stars are actually binary stars. As Dr. Horch said, "It's interesting and exciting that exoplanet systems with stellar companions turn out to be much more common than was believed even just a few years ago."

Comment: Actually, based on data from NASA's Chandra X-ray observatory, it's estimated that over 80% of all stars may be either binary or multiple-star systems. If our own solar system was part of such a binary star system, it could account for many of the 'anomalies' exhibited by the conventional single-star hypothesis. So perhaps our own sun has a 'dark companion' - Nemesis?

For further information read Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection

Comment: Perhaps 'something wicked this way comes?'


Skynet Rising? International Space Station launches mini-satellites, on its own

© Unknown
The International Space Station has a cannon that launches tiny CubeSat microsatellites into orbit. Most of the time, those launches are triggered by human scientists on board or back on Earth. But this week, the ISS launched two CubeSats entirely on its own. This is how the uprising begins.

Yes, on Thursday night, ISS commander Steve Swanson was loading blood samples into a freezer when he noticed the doors of the CubeSat launcher were open. Swanson alerted mission control in Houston, which confirmed that two CubeSats had been inadvertently released.

It's not the first time this has happened: A NASA status report shows that two other CubeSats were unintentionally released on August 23rd. That means that, of the 12 CubeSats launched into orbit so far, one-third of them got impatient waiting for permission, and just launched themselves.

The CubeSats, made by Planet Labs, are tiny devices roughly the size of a well-stuffed foot-long cheesesteak. The plan is to launch 100 of the baby satellites into orbit to gather detailed, real-time imagery of the Earth below and make it available to anyone on the internet. You can read tons more about Planet Labs' tiny satellite program here.
Cell Phone

Mysterious fake mobile phone towers discovered across USA

fake cell tower
Fake towers...what do they do and why?
Fake masts are discovered by people using a heavily customised Android device - but it's unclear who owns them. Mysterious fake mobile phone towers discovered across America could be listening in on unsuspecting callers.

A report by Popular Science says the towers have been discovered across the country, and have the ability to attack mobile phones through eavesdropping and installing spyware.

They were discovered by people using a heavily customised Android device called the CryptoPhone 500. It uses a secure version of the software which can tell if the phone is being subjected to what is known as a baseband attack. It is then possible to trace the location of the offending tower.

The fake cell towers were detected in July, but the report states there could be more.

rogue cell towers
Rogue cell towers identified by the firewall on CryptoPhones in August.
Les Goldsmith, chief executive of security firm ESD America, told the magazine: "Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated. One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at a casino in Las Vegas."

He said several of the masts were situated near US military bases.

"What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of US military bases," he said. "So we begin to wonder - are some of them US government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?

"Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the US military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are."

Comment: The public has been put on the defensive. In order to avoid personal calls and the information stored in your phone being intercepted and manipulated, a custom firewall has to be installed to alert the user when activation occurs or when rogue cell towers force the use of a less secure network to make the intercept easier - and only if it is a CryptoPhone - and only for government customers with multiple installations. There is no installation or app for single customers (yet, if ever).

IMSI catchers, stingrays or GSM interceptors as they're also called, force a phone to connect to them by emitting a stronger signal than the legitimate towers around them. Once connected, pings from the phone can help the rogue tower identify a phone in the vicinity and track the phone's location and movement while passing the phone signals on to a legitimate tower so the user still receives service. Some of the IMSI software and devices also intercept and decrypt calls and can be used to push malware to vulnerable phones, and also be used to locate air cards used with computers. The systems are designed to be portable so they can be operated from a van or on foot to track a phone as it moves. But some can be stationary and operate from a military base or an embassy. The reach of a rogue tower can be up to a mile away, forcing thousands of phones in a region to connect to it without anyone knowing. It can remote-operate your phone camera and make undisclosed connections. You also might be one of 1,000 or 10,000 people having calls being listened to.

Comforting thoughts, eh? One more thing we are not supposed to know about.


Death of the traditional family: "Different is the new normal," report author claims

Traditional Family
© Thinkstock
The days of a traditional 1950s family where Dad goes off to be the breadwinner and Mom stays home to take care of the kids is long gone, replaced by a "peacock's tail" of various family unit structures, University of Maryland sociologist Philip Cohen claims in a new report prepared for the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF).

In his paper "Family Diversity is the New Normal for America's Children," Cohen reports that only 22 percent of children currently live in a married male-breadwinner family, while 23 percent are cared for by a single mother. Seven out of every 100 live with a parent cohabitating with an unmarried partner, while six live with either a single father or grandparents.

The single largest group of children (34 percent) lives with dual-earner married parents, the study said, but that group represents just slightly over one-third of the whole. That is a far cry from six decades ago, when 65 percent of all kids under the age of 15 were living with a family of married parents where only the father was part of the workforce.

"Different is the new normal. There hasn't been the collapse of one dominant family structure and the rise of another. It's really a fanning out into all kinds of family structures," Cohen told Brigid Schulte of The Washington Post on Thursday. "The big story, really, is the decline of marriage. That's what's really changed."

Body upgrades may be nearing reality, but only for the rich

© the
Arnold Schwarzenegger gets upgraded to a killer robot in Terminator 2.
Homo sapiens were not always so special. In the ancient past, other human forms lived beside us. The Neanderthals in Eurasia. Small, hobbit-like humans in Indonesia. The mysterious Denisovans in the Ural mountains.

But our time alone may be nearing its end. Through the power of technology, humans are set to take on the role of Intelligent Designer. We can upgrade ourselves and surmount evolution. Ultimately, we can become entirely new beings that set the stage for a posthuman future.

The scenario has played out for decades in science fiction but the prospect is raised more seriously by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, in his latest book, Sapiens. In it he sees trouble ahead. The latest human enhancements will be accessible only to the rich, leading to a 21st-century society more unequal than any that came before.

The revolution Harari has in mind is borne of engineering and exploits mechanical, electronic, chemical and genetic progress. In place of treatments that correct biological deficits, like failing hearts, poor hearing and weak eyesight, will be procedures that improve on natural performance, making the fortunate recipients biologically better than the rest.

"In the 20th century, the main task of medicine was to bring everybody to a certain level of health and capability. It was by definition an egalitarian aim," Harari told the Guardian. "In the 21st century medicine is moving onwards and trying to surpass the norm, to help people live longer, to have stronger memories, to have better control of their emotions. But upgrading like that is not an egalitarian project, it's an elitist project. No matter what norm you reach, there is always another upgrade which is possible."

Another failed climate prediction: Laughable new paper claims 99.999% certainty global warming over past 25 years is man-made

I was tipped off to this paper by a Tweet from SkS Reichfurher John Cook, and I started on writing a rebuttal, but discovered The Hockey Schtick had already done a complete job, so I've reposted it here.

Anthony The Hockey Schtick writes: A new paper published in a journal called Climate Risk Management claims a ridiculous degree of "certainty" of 99.999% that global warming over the past 25 years is man-made. The claim is made based upon climate models already falsified at confidence levels of 98%+.

According to the authors,
"there is less than a one in one hundred thousand chance of observing an unbroken sequence of 304 months [25.3 years] (our analysis extends to June 2010) with mean surface temperature exceeding the 20th century average."
Fundamental problems with this claim [which is basically the falsified IPCC attribution claim of 95% certainty on steroids] include:

There is no statistical difference between the rate of warming over the 27 years from 1917-1944 and the 25 years from 1975/1976 to 2000:
Climate models fail to simulate the [natural with 99.999% certainty] observed warming between 1910 and 1940
    Not being able to address the attribution of change in the early 20th century to my mind precludes any highly confident attribution of change in the late 20th century." - Judith Curry

Comment: There are an extraordinary number of signs that the planet is cooling, has been for a while and we are probably entering an ice age. See:
  • Global Cooling - Methods and testable decadal predictions
  • Ice Age cometh: Global cooling consensus is heating up - cooling over the next one to three decades


New research aims to shed light on a cosmological enigma - dark matter

dark matter
© Credit: University of Kansas / KU News Service
The distribution of dark matter in the universe as computed within the two-component flavor-mixed dark matter paradigm.
Astrophysicists believe that about 80 percent of the substance of our universe is made up of mysterious "dark matter" that can't be perceived by human senses or scientific instruments.

"Dark matter has not yet been detected in a lab. We infer about it from astronomical observations," said Mikhail Medvedev, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, who has just published breakthrough research on dark matter that merited the cover of Physical Review Letters, the world's most prestigious journal of physics research.

Medvedev proposes a novel model of dark matter, dubbed "flavor-mixed multicomponent dark matter."

"Dark matter is some unknown matter, most likely a new elementary particle or particles beyond the Standard Model," Medvedev said. "It has never been observed directly, but it reveals itself via gravity it produces in the universe. There are numerous experiments around the world aimed at finding it directly."

Medvedev's theory rests on the behavior of elementary particles that have been observed or hypothesized. According to today's prevalent Standard Model theory of particle physics, elementary particles - categorized as varieties of quarks, leptons and gauge bosons - are the building blocks of an atom. The properties, or "flavors," of quarks and leptons are prone to change back and forth, because they can combine with each other in a phenomenon called flavor-mixing.
Blue Planet

How advanced are Earthlings on a cosmic yardstick?

evolution question
How far can we evolve and stay in balance with the earth and technology?
We humans like to think ourselves pretty advanced - and with no other technology-bearing beings to compare ourselves to, our back-patting doesn't have to take context into account. After all, we harnessed fire, invented stone tools and the wheel, developed agriculture and writing, built cities, and learned to use metals.

Then, a mere few moments ago from the perspective of cosmic time, we advanced even more rapidly, developing telescopes and steam power; discovering gravity and electromagnetism and the forces that hold the nuclei of atoms together.

Meanwhile, the age of electricity was transforming human civilization. You could light up a building at night, speak with somebody in another city, or ride in a vehicle that needed no horse to pull it, and humans were very proud of themselves for achieving all of this. In fact, by the year 1899, purportedly, these developments prompted U.S. patent office commissioner Charles H. Duell to remark, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

We really have come a long way from the cave, but how far can we still go? Is there a limit to our technological progress? Put another way, if Duell was dead wrong in the year 1899, might his words be prophetic for the year 2099, or 2199? And what does that mean for humanity's distant future?

Comment: Back in March, 2013, NASA told Congress to "pray" if a meteor similar to the one that hit Russia is ever three weeks away from the U.S. During that House Committee hearing, NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. told Congress that the U.S. doesn't have the proper equipment to identify a small meteor (the size of Russia's meteor). Bolden said, "The reason I can't do anything in the next three weeks is because for decades we have put it off. We are where we are today because, you know, you all told us to do something and between the administration and the Congress, the funding to do that did not - the bottom line is always - the funding did not come." [This is pathetic. Let's start a war.]

As a species, we will not rise above a doomsday scenario as long as we allow lies, injustice and propaganda to blind us to what is real and secret agendas for the few to take priority over what is in all mankind's best interest and longevity. We apparently do not learn from our mistakes. If we haven't figured out why we are here and how to genuinely progress for the good of all, how will we stay the course, find our place in the balance of the universe and our connection to the realm of the cosmos? We will do what we will do...perhaps too little, too late. There are lessons...and apparently they are worth repeating.