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




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Science Weekly Roundup 3/7/14




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Technology Weekly Roundup 2/28/14


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


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Science Weekly Roundup 2/28/14

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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’.