Physicists Discover Evidence of Early Gravitational Waves

Steffen Richter/Harvard University

Steffen Richter/Harvard University

Scientists working at Harvard University’s BICEP2 project at the South Pole announced this week that they have detected evidence of gravitational waves shortly after the Big Bang. This discovery supports recent theories pertaining to the universe’s birth and observations of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

Albert Einstein predicted, through his model of general relativity, that the gravity of massive objects would cause ripples in space-time; however, this prediction had some inconsistencies when it was put up against observation. Alan Guth, now at MIT, made some modifications to his theory that accounted for these lapses. The current theory was proposed by Stanford University physicist Andrei Linde and was until this week unconfirmed.

The researchers reported a confidence level of greater than 5 sigma, which means that the chances of the signal reported being a mistake are less than 1 in 3.5 million.

These findings could help reconcile quantum physics, which describes the unimaginably small, and general relativity, which describes things on a scale that we are more familiar with. Quantum physics and general relativity seem to follow different rules, so it has been difficult thus far to describe how they work together to describe the universe.

The results have yet to be confirmed by another party, but most scientists working in the field are confident that they will be replicated. If the results are confirmed and published, the discoverers will likely win this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics.

Technology Weekly Roundup 3/7/14

9to5Mac/Cupertino.org

9to5Mac/Cupertino.org

Apple

-Apple’s ‘Spaceship’ designer discusses Steve Jobs’ involvement and Stanford campus influence (9to5Mac)

-Apple rebrands iOS in the Car as CarPlay, compatible vehicles launching later this year (9to5Mac)

-Apple’s Peter Oppenheimer to Retire at the End of September (Apple)

-CarPlay Shown Off in New Promo Video from Volvo, Wi-Fi Connections Coming Soon (MacRumors)

Microsoft

-Video shows off Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant in action (Engadget)

-With Free Version of Windows, Microsoft Gives In to the Google Way (Wired)

Mobile

-New HTC One dual-lens camera shown off in detailed leak (Engadget)

-Mobile World Congress 2014 report card: who made the grade? (Engadget)

General

-Getty Images opens up its stock photo vaults for free, legal use with new embed tools (Engadget)

-Newsweek defends Satoshi Nakamoto story (Circa)

-Play-i is building an ecosystem for its robots to teach coding in schools (The Next Web)

-How to measure the ROI of your ongoing SEO efforts (The Next Web)

Science Weekly Roundup 3/7/14

Wired/Nature

Wired/Nature

Astronomy

-The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia (Ars Technica)

-NASA’s Kepler mission announces 715 new worlds (Astronomy.com)

 -Jumbo Black Hole’s Dizzying Spin Twists Space (National Geographic)

-Spin of distant black hole measured at half of speed of light (Reuters)

-Carl Sagan: Astronomy Icon’s Legacy in Pictures (Gallery) (Space.com)

-Expedition 38 (NASA)

-Strange Signal From Galactic Center Is Looking More and More Like Dark Matter (Wired)

-How big is space? – interactive version (BBC Future)

-Space Research Pays for Itself, but Inspires Fewer People (Op-Ed) (Space.com)

Biology

-Born To Swim? (Popular Science)

-Five-tonne dinosaur species discovered (The Guardian)

-There Are 10 Times More Fish In The Sea Than We Thought (Popular Science)

-Scientists can now control flies’ brains with lasers (The Verge)

Geosciences

-A Bright Year for Solar in the U.S.—But There Are Clouds on the Horizon (Time)

-In The New Globalized Diet, Wheat, Soy And Palm Oil Rule (NPR)

-Bizarre Organic Quasicrystal Accidentally Created in Lab (Wired)

Medicine

-Scientists create accurate predictor of the next year’s flu virus (Ars Technica)

-This Pacemaker Membrane Can Keep A Heart Beating Perfectly (Popular Science)

-Baby born with HIV reported to be clear of virus after urgent treatment (The Guardian)

-Screws Made From Silk Could Be Used In Surgical Implants (Popular Science)

Physics

-British schoolboy, 13, becomes youngest to build nuclear fusion reactor (The Telegraph)

General

-Not Exactly Rocket Science (National Geographic)

-SAT overhaul to make essay optional, end penalty for wrong answers (LA Times)

Technology Weekly Roundup 2/28/14

Time

Time Magazine

Apple

-Apple formalizes iBeacon Bluetooth spec in the hopes of wider adoption (Engadget)

Facebook

-WhatsApp plans to add Facebook Messenger-like voice calling features by next quarter (9to5Mac)

-Telegram Saw 8M Downloads After WhatsApp Got Acquired (TechCrunch)

Google

-Google Barge bids farewell to San Francisco, to make Stockton its new California home (Engadget)

-Google’s Project Ara could go on sale next year for $50 (The Verge)

-Google wants its Project Ara modular smartphone to cost $50 (Engadget)

-Google’s Nexus 5 experience now available for other Nexus devices (The Verge)

Microsoft

-Microsoft experimenting with free version of Windows 8.1 (The Verge)

Samsung

-Samsung To Release A Galaxy S5 With An 8-Core Processor (TechCrunch)

-Samsung Galaxy S5 preview: simpler in some ways, more ‘glam’ in others (Engadget)

-Samsung Galaxy S5 owners will be able to use fingerprint authentication to pay with PayPal (The Next Web)

-Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. the competition: the battle of Android flagships has new contenders (Engadget)

-The ‘Galaxy S5′ problem (iMore)

-Samsung Unveils the (No Longer Galaxy) Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo + More Details on New Samsung Gears (TechSci)

General

-What app developers must do to stay ahead of competition (The Next Web)

-Canonical gives developers a preview of a dual-booting Ubuntu and Android future (Engadget)

-Blippar brings object image recognition to Google Glass (GigaOm)

-Tesla to raise almost $2 billion for a $4B-$5B huge battery factory (GigaOm)

-Ever wondered why your mouse pointer is angled, not straight? (9to5Mac)

-Science publishers withdraw more than 120 computer-generated papers (The Verge)

-Starting to Demo the Wolfram Language (Bioinformatics/Wolfram Blog)

-New partnership could produce a 3D printer that prints objects 500 times faster and 10 times larger (GigaOm)

Science Weekly Roundup 2/28/14

New Scientist

New Scientist

Astronomy

-Kepler’s Exoplanetary Universe in a Nutshell: Video (Space.com)

-NASA Will Unveil New Discoveries from Planet-Hunting Kepler Spacecraft Wednesday (Space.com)

-Twin telescopes record video of meteoroid slamming into the moon (Ars Technica)

-X-flare! Most intense flare of 2014 so far (EarthSky)

-Father of big bang carries its hiss on his cellphone (New Scientist)

-What Escapes a Black Hole? (Popular Science)

Biology

-Pancreatic cancer’s killer trick offers treatment hope (New Scientist)

Neuroscience

-How does your memory work? (BBC Future)

Physics

-Scientists Make Largest Quark, Solving A 20-Year Mystery (Popular Science)

General

-Science publishers withdraw more than 120 computer-generated papers (The Verge)

-First Amputee Has Touch Restored With Bionic Hand (Forbes)

Samsung Unveils the (No Longer Galaxy) Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo

Gear 2 on the right, Gear 2 Neo on the left (Samsung)

Gear 2 on the left, Gear 2 Neo on the right (Samsung)

Today, Samsung announced the successor to its Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, which was released five months ago to to much criticism. The Gear 2 notably drops the ‘Galaxy’ branding as it moves away from Android to Samsung’s homegrown Tizen mobile OS, a project that Samsung has been working on since 2011. The Gear 2 is not the first device to run the operating system (that would be the NX300M smart camera, released last year), but the experience will obviously be different on a watch.

The watch features the same 1.63-inch touchscreen, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 4GB internal storage, 512MB of RAM, an IR blaster, and a 2MP camera. Another change from the original Gear is the camera placement – it has been moved from the band onto the top of the watch face. The microphone has also been moved from the clasp to the front of the watch, so there is no longer wiring inside the watchband. Samsung says that the Gear’s straps can be swapped out, but did not elaborate on what kind of bands it will be compatible with.

Samsung says to expect an “enriched application ecosystem” for the next generation Gear, which (like most of its other components) was not quite up to par. Fitness has become an important part of all wearable technology, and the new Gear does not miss out on this focus: it gains a heart rate sensor and dust/water resistance.

Inside is a 300 mAh battery, which is smaller than the original Gear’s 315 mAh battery; despite this, Samsung says that the watch will have a 2-3 day battery life, a huge improvement over the 24-hour maximum battery life of the first Gear. Along with the camera placement and price, the battery was one of the biggest gripes about the Galaxy Gear, and it will be interesting to see how the new Gear is received. Alongside the Gear 2 will be the Gear 2 Neo, a cheaper alternative that drops the camera and is slightly lighter as a result (68g compared to 55g), but is otherwise the same as the Gear 2. 

Samsung has not set a price for the Gear 2 or the Gear 2 Neo yet, but presumably, multiple price points will alleviate cost complaints that were an issue for the previous model.

The Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo will ship in April, most likely alongside the Galaxy S5, which is expected to be unveiled at Samsung’s ‘Unpacked’ event at Mobile World Congress later this week. The Gear 2 will come in ‘Charcoal Black’, ‘Gold Brown’ and ‘Wild Orange’. The Gear 2 Neo comes in the same colors, but swaps out brown for ‘Mocha Grey’.