Today’s physics news: A dark energy revolution and cosmic instability

Reach for the stars — and the asteroids as well

In this Times column piece, Professor Brian Cox picks up on comments made by Andre Geim last week, who said that he dreamed we will discover a huge rock heading to Earth in 50 years time which stimulate a 21st-century industrial revolution. “The greatest threat to our prosperity and long-term survival, other than our own barbarism, is complacency — the pernicious view that we know enough, that discovery is a luxury and that the quest for new knowledge is optional,” Cox writes.

The Times (Article behind a pay wall)

Dark energy: A new standard model for physics?

Researchers are to use the Hubble Space Telescope to study a mysterious force called Dark Energy. The force is causing the expansion of the Universe to continue to accelerate rather than slow down and collapse in on itself, as current theories would suggest.  The BBC’s science correspondent, Pallab Ghosh, explains why modern physics is set for its next big revolution in thinking.


Cosmos may be ‘inherently unstable’

Scientists say they may be able to determine the eventual fate of the cosmos as they probe the properties of the Higgs boson. A concept known as vacuum instability could result, billions of years from now, in a new universe opening up in the present one and replacing it.


Russian meteorite: hunt for debris begins, but was it a comet?

A race for cosmic souvenirs has begun after scientists said there were still many pieces of the meteorite that fell to earth (video) near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk last week waiting to be found. The extraterrestrial origin of 53 rock fragments collected on the frozen surface of Lake Chebarkul was confirmed during analysis conducted by the Urals Federal University in the early hours of Monday.


Nuclear power: ministers offer reactor deal until 2050

The government is launching a last-ditch attempt to sign up energy companies to build new nuclear power stations by proposing to sign contracts guaranteeing subsidies for up to 40 years. The coalition agreement reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in 2010 promised that nuclear power stations would be built only if the industry got no public subsidy, but costly overruns for new reactors overseas and the exit of several major utilities from the UK programme, most recently Centrica, have driven ministers and officials to backtrack on that pledge and accept they will have to provide financial support.


Nicolaus Copernicus celebrated in google doodle

Google’s latest doodle celebrates the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the astronomer who transformed our understanding of the solar system and is best known for his theory that the sun and not the Earth is at the centre of the universe.



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