The violent death throes of a nearby star so thoroughly disrupted its planetary system that the dead star left behind — known as a white dwarf — is sucking in debris from both the system’s inner and outer reaches, UCLA astronomers and colleagues report today.
This is the first case of cosmic cannibalism in which astronomers have observed a white dwarf consuming both rocky-metallic material, likely from a nearby asteroid, and icy material, presumed to be from a body similar to those found in the Kuiper belt at the fringe of our own solar system.
“We have never seen both of these kinds of objects accreting onto a white dwarf at the same time,” said lead researcher Ted Johnson, a physics and astronomy major at UCLA who graduated last week. “By studying these white dwarfs, we hope to gain a better understanding of planetary systems that are still intact.”
The findings are based on an analysis of materials captured by the atmosphere of G238-44, a white dwarf some 86 light-years from Earth, using archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope and additional NASA satellites and observatories. A white dwarf is the burned-out core that remains after a star like our sun sheds its outer layers and stops burning fuel through nuclear fusion.
As surprising as the white dwarf’s wide-ranging diet is, the findings are also intriguing because astronomers believe icy objects crashed into and irrigated dry, rocky planets in our solar system — including Earth. Billions of years ago, comets and asteroids are thought to have delivered water to our planet, sparking the conditions necessary for life. The makeup of the material detected raining onto G238-44 implies that icy reservoirs might be common among planetary systems, said research co-author Benjamin Zuckerman, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy.
“Life as we know it requires a rocky planet covered with a variety of volatile elements like carbon, nitrogen and oxygen,” Zuckerman said. “The abundances of the elements we see on this white dwarf appear to have come from both a rocky parent body and a volatile-rich parent body — the first example we’ve found among studies of hundreds of white dwarfs.”
Chaos and destruction: From living star to red giant to white dwarf
Theories of planetary-system evolution describe the demise of a star as a turbulent, chaotic event, one that begins when it first balloons exponentially into what is known as a red giant and then quickly loses its outer layers, collapsing into a white dwarf — a super-dense star about the size of Earth, with a mass of our sun. The process dramatically disrupts the remaining planets’ orbits, and smaller objects — asteroids, comets, moons — that venture too close to them can be scattered like pinballs and sent hurtling toward the white dwarf.
This study confirms the true scale of the chaos, showing that within 100 million years after the beginning of its white dwarf phase, the star is able to simultaneously capture and consume material from its nearby asteroid belt and its far-flung Kuiper belt-like regions.
Though astronomers have cataloged more than 5,000 planets outside our solar system, the only planet whose interior makeup we have some direct knowledge of is Earth. Because the materials accreting onto G238-44 are representative of the building blocks of major planets, this white dwarf cannibalism provides a unique opportunity to take planets apart and see what they were made of when they first formed around the star, said UCLA astronomy researcher Beth Klein, a member of the team.
The team measured the presence of nitrogen, oxygen, magnesium, silicon and iron, among other elements, in the white dwarf’s atmosphere. Their detection of iron in very high abundance is evidence for metallic cores of terrestrial planets, like Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury, Johnson said. Unexpectedly high nitrogen abundances led them to conclude that icy bodies were also present.
“The best fit for our data was a nearly two-to-one mix of Mercury-like material and comet-like material, which is made up of ice and dust,” Johnson said. “Iron metal and nitrogen ice each suggest wildly different conditions of planetary formation. There is no known solar system object with so much of both.”
The researchers say the ultimate scenario for our own sun some 5 billion years from now will likely be quite similar to what has been seen with G238-44. During the sun’s red giant phase, the Earth might be completely vaporized along with the inner planets, they predict.
The orbits of many of the asteroids in our solar system’s main asteroid belt will be gravitationally perturbed by Jupiter and will also fall onto the white dwarf remnant that the sun will become, he said.
For more than two years, the research group at UCLA, along with colleagues at UC San Diego and the University of Kiel in Germany, has worked to unravel the mystery of G238-44 by analyzing the elements detected on the white dwarf star.
Their analysis included data from NASA’s retired Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, the Keck Observatory’s High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.
The team’s results were presented at an American Astronomical Society press conference on June 15.
Tesla’s Are Safer and Here is Proof
I did some research on Tesla safety using non-Tesla data to address the issue from the AI experts. Some AI experts criticized FSD. I used US, UK government and insurance data to show Tesla is already safer and why we should expect more safety from Autopilot and FSD. I also provided context about where and how accidents and deaths occur with cars.
Are Tesla cars safer and have they saved lives ? Spoiler Yes.
Has Tesla Autopilot saved lives? Again Yes. but I will provide data.
Is FSD beta safe? Yes,
Is Autopilot safe? How many lives would you expect to save by superior automatic lane keeping? 20-30% of traffic deaths.
Will Full FSD be safer? Yes, and safety score can help ensure it will be.
Can Safety Scoring, Insurance and FSD get more optimal usage of FSD? Yes.
All Tesla’s come with safety features expected to reduce accidents by 30-50% (NHTSA analysis of those features)
Youtube videos by FSD beta users show large improvement over last 8 months. No major accidents or deaths using FSD beta with 100k users for 7 months
Insurance and government statistics in US and UK show Tesla’s are among the safest cars involved in the fewest accidents. About 40% below average in US. Very Low accidents involvement in UK (10 times less than Toyota, Ford and several others of number per 10,000 cars).
UK Car Statistics
Tesls is among the manufacturers with the least number of accidents per 10,000 models?
Morris – 16
Austin – 26
Tesla – 28
Ferrari – 39
Aston Martin – 40
Lotus – 55
Bentley – 75
This is ten times less than Ford, Toyota and Mercedes in the UK.
Tesla is willing to charge 30-60% less for those with good Tesla Safety Scores. Can motivate 60% safer driving and lower accidents. Safety Scores with Real Time Insurance pricing can motivate safer driving.
Safety Scoring could be adjusted to ensure FSD monitoring behavior after FSD is fully released for general usage.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
Roe v. Wade Was Overturned. Here’s how Your Phone Could Be Used to Spy on You.
From figuring out how often you go to the bathroom to potentially being used to prosecute you, your trusty smartphone might not be so trusty in a post-Roe world.
SOPHIE BUSHWICK: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, so-called trigger laws already passed in 13 states could ban abortion in large parts of the country. Here’s how your smartphone could be used to prosecute you if you do decide to have an abortion in an area where it’s criminalized.
First of all, your phone is a major tracker of personal information.
It records a huge volume of data, your browsing information, location data, and payment history, that, taken together, can reveal your most intimate activities, such as how many times you go to the bathroom.
If a basic activity like reproductive healthcare becomes criminalized, experts say courts could then issue a warrant for your device, which would then reveal all of that personal information.
If this all sounds a little too dystopian, that’s because it is.
Even with Roe intact, digital footprints have been used against people seeking to terminate pregnancies.
Imagine a situation where a pregnant person is admitted to the hospital for treatment for a miscarriage.
That person’s phone could then be placed under surveillance under suspicion of having tried to induce that miscarriage.
Not only that; privacy experts warn that law enforcement could actually sidestep the need for a warrant by going directly to private companies.
So how would that work?
In case you didn’t know, data brokers have been collecting your personal information for years, and they sell that data for a fee.
Experts say there is actually precedent for law enforcement using data brokers to sidestep the Fourth Amendment.
By issuing a broad subpoena or buying information in bulk, law enforcement could crack down on a large number of people at once.
For example, they could use geofence or other location data, part of your digital footprint, to find everyone who had visited a clinic.
That information becomes even more revealing when it’s combined with health data.
That’s because experts warn these apps can actually identify if you’re pregnant before you know it yourself.
And yes, government officials in this country have actually charted people’s periods to determine if they were pregnant.
And know HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is not necessarily going to help you either.
It’s important to note that apps have no obligation to keep your data secure and private, and HIPAA does not really apply here.
Basically, your vulnerability and privacy is in the hands of the companies that develop these software apps.
That’s why some privacy advocates call for pressuring these companies directly to keep your data private and safe.There are still ways to protect yourself, but relying on the government or the tech industry to do so isn’t one of them.
- reproductive rights,
- roe v wade
Chimpanzees hunt for fruit in video game to test navigation skills
Testing how chimpanzees navigate in virtual environments could help researchers understand why they prefer certain routes in the wild over others
24 June 2022
By Jason Arunn Murugesu
Chimpanzees in a zoo have been trained to use a touchscreen to navigate a virtual environment and seek out objects. Studies like this could help us learn more about how our close relatives find their way around in the jungle.
“There’s a lot of research on the navigation of birds and bees,” says Matthias Allritz at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “But we know very little about the navigation of most primate species.” This is largely because chimpanzees are difficult to track in the wild, Allritz says. “Primates are fast and they might go through foliage, which is difficult to follow,” he says.
Over several weeks, Allritz and his colleagues trained six chimpanzees at Leipzig Zoo to use a touchscreen and play a video game in which they had to navigate to a tree to find a piece of fruit. When they did this, they were rewarded with a real fruit. The chimpanzees were given 10 minutes at a time with the game until they learned how to move in the virtual environment. The primates could refuse to take part at any time and all had used touchscreens previously. None of the animals were harmed in the study, Allritz says.
Testing chimpanzees in virtual environments could give researchers a better idea about why they prefer certain routes in the wild over others. “Knowing what kind of travel routes chimpanzees typically decide can help us develop computer simulations that can estimate the shape and size of home ranges that need to be protected,” Allritz says.
In the first experiment, the chimpanzees tried multiple times to find the same tree from the same starting point. In the second experiment, they started from a different position in the virtual environment. The team wanted to see if the animals could still navigate to the tree in order to collect the virtual fruit.
With practice, all six chimps could complete both tasks. But only three improved the efficiency of their routes with practice in the first task. “There could be many reasons for this,” Allritz says. “Some chimpanzees may have been better at recognising the landmark or they may simply have been less clumsy in using the touchscreen controls.”
Allritz says the study was ultimately about proving that chimpanzees could interact with a virtual environment that looked like a real-world setting. “The chimpanzees could have just walked around in circles,” he says.
Jill Pruetz at the University of Texas says such experiments let us study chimpanzees in a way that can’t be done in the wild. “So in general I think that captive primate work is very worthwhile,” she says.
Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm4754
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