Lost in Space-Time newsletter: Will a twisted universe save cosmology?

A forgotten idea of Albert Einstein’s might just be the saviour of cosmology, plus the great man’s (vain) quest to undermine quantum weirdness and the question of why the universe looks “just right” for our existenceSPACE 8 November 2021

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity “didn’t have to be”

Hello, and welcome to November’s Lost in Space-Time, the monthly physics newsletter that unpicks the fabric of the universe and attempts to stitch it back together in a slightly different way. To receive this free, monthly newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Einstein’s forgotten twisted universe

There’s a kind of inevitability about the fact that, if you write a regular newsletter about fundamental physics, you’ll regularly find yourself banging on about Albert Einstein. As much as it comes with the job, I also make no apology for it: he is a towering figure in the history of not just fundamental physics, but science generally.

A point that historians of science sometimes make about his most monumental achievement, the general theory of relativity, is that, pretty much uniquely, it was a theory that didn’t have to be. When you look at the origins of something like Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, for example – not to diminish his magisterial accomplishment in any way – you’ll find that other people had been scratching around similar ideas surrounding the origin and change of species for some time as a response to the burgeoning fossil record, among other discoveries.

Even Einstein’s special relativity, the precursor to general relativity that first introduced the idea of warping space and time, responded to a clear need (first distinctly identified with the advent of James Clerk Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism in the 1860s) to explain why the speed of light appeared to be an absolute constant.

When Einstein presented general relativity to the world in 1915, there was nothing like that. We had a perfectly good working theory of gravity, the one developed by Isaac Newton more than two centuries earlier. True, there was a tiny problem in that it couldn’t explain some small wobbles in the orbit of Mercury, but they weren’t of the size that demanded we tear up our whole understanding of space, time, matter and the relationship between them. But pretty much everything we know (and don’t know) about the wider universe today stems from general relativity: the expanding big bang universe and the standard model of cosmology, dark matter and energy, black holes, gravitational waves, you name it.

So why am I banging on about this? Principally because, boy, do we need a new idea in cosmology now – and in a weird twist of history, it might just be Einstein who supplies it. I’m talking about an intriguing feature by astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter in the magazine last month . It deals with perhaps general relativity’s greatest (perceived, at least) weakness – the way it doesn’t mesh with other bits of physics, which are all explained by quantum theory these days. The mismatch exercised Einstein a great deal, and he spent much of his later years engaged in a fruitless quest to unify all of physics.

Perhaps his most promising attempt came with a twist – literally – on general relativity that Einstein played about with early on. By developing a mathematical language not just for how space-time bends (which is the basis of how gravity is created within relativity) but for how it twists, he hoped to create a theory that also explained the electromagnetic force. He succeeded in the first bit, creating a description of how massive, charged objects might twist space-time into mini-cyclones around them. But it didn’t create a convincing description of electromagnetism, and Einstein quietly dropped the theory.

Well, the really exciting bit, as Sutter describes, is that this “teleparallel gravity” seems to be back in a big way. Many cosmologists now think it could be a silver bullet to explain away some of the most mysterious features of today’s universe, such as the nature of dark matter and dark energy and the troublesome period of faster-than-light inflation right at the moment of the big bang that is invoked to explain features of today’s universe, such as its extraordinary smoothness. Not only that, but there could be a way to test the theory soon. I’d recommend reading the feature to get all the details, but in the meantime, it’s about as exciting a development as you’ll get in cosmology these days.

Is the universe fine-tuned?

Let’s take just a quick dip into the physics arXiv preprint server, where the latest research is put up. One paper that caught my eye recently has the inviting title “Life, the universe and the hidden meaning of everything” . It’s by Zhi-Wei Wang at the College of Physics in China and Samuel L. Braunstein at the University of York in the UK, and it deals with a question that’s been bugging a lot of physicists and cosmologists ever since we started making detailed measurements of the universe and developing cogent theories to explain what we see: why does everything in the universe (the strengths of the various forces, the masses of fundamental particles, etc.) seem so perfectly tuned to allow the existence of observers like us to ask the question?

This has tended to take cosmologists and physicists down one of two avenues. The first says things are how they are because that’s how they’re made. For some, that sails very close to an argument via intelligent design, aka the existence of god. The other avenue tends to be some form of multiverse argument: our universe is as it is because we are here to observe it (we could hardly be here to observe it if it weren’t), but it is one of a random subset of many possible universes that happen to be conducive to intelligent life arising.

This paper examines more closely a hypothesis from British physicist Dennis Sciama (doctoral supervisor to the stars: among his students in the 1960s and 1970s were Stephen Hawking, quantum computing pioneer David Deutsch and the UK’s astronomer royal, Martin Rees ) that if ours were a random universe, there would be a statistical pattern in its fundamental parameters that would give us evidence of that. In this paper, the researchers argue that the logic is actually reversed. In their words: “Were our universe random, it could give the false impression of being intelligently designed, with the fundamental constants appearing to be fine-tuned to a strong probability for life to emerge and be maintained.”

Full disclosure – I’m writing something on this very subject for New Scientist’s 65th-anniversary issue, due out on 20 November. Read more there!

Closing the quantum loopholes

While I’m banging on about Einstein, I stumbled across one of my favourite features I’ve worked on while at the magazine the other day, and thought it was worth sharing. Called “Reality check: Closing the quantum loopholes”, it’s from 2011, a full 10 years ago, but the idea it deals with stretches back way before that – and is still a very live one.

The basic question is: is quantum theory a true description of reality, or are its various weirdnesses – not least the “entanglement” of quantum objects over vast distances – indications of goings-on in an underlying layer of reality not described by quantum theory (or indeed any other theory to date)? I talked about entanglement quite a bit in last month’s newsletter, so I won’t go into its workings here.

The alternative idea of “hidden variables” explaining the workings of the quantum world goes back to a famous paper published by Einstein and two collaborators, Nathan Rosen and Boris Podolsky, back in 1935. It led Einstein into a long-drawn-out debate about the nature of quantum theory with another of its pioneers, Niels Bohr, that continued decorously right until Einstein’s death in 1955. It wasn’t until the 1980s that we began to have the theoretical and experimental capabilities to actually pit the two pictures against one another.

New Scientist Default Image
The observatories atop the volcano Teide on Tenerife were one scene of a bold test of quantum reality.Phil Crean A/ Alamy

I love the story not just for this rich history, but also for the way that, after each iteration of the experiments – every time showing that quantum theory, and entanglement, are the “right” explanation for what is going on, whatever they might mean – the physicists found another loophole in the experiments that might allow Einstein’s hidden variable idea back into the frame again.

That led them to some pretty impressive feats of experimental derring-do to close the loopholes again – the feature opens with a group of modern physicists shooting single photons between observatories on Tenerife and La Palma in the Canary Islands. In an update to the story that we published in 2018 (with the rather explicit title “Einstein was wrong: Why ‘normal’ physics can’t explain reality” ), they even reproduced the result with photons coming at us from galaxies billions of light years away – proving that, if not the whole universe, then a goodly proportion of it follows quantum rules. You can’t win ‘em all, Einstein.

Coming up

One reason I’ve been thinking particularly frequently about Einstein and his work lately is that I’ve been putting together the latest New Scientist Essential Guide called “Einstein’s Universe”. It’s a survey of his theories of relativity and all those things that came out of it: the big bang universe and the standard model of cosmology, dark matter and energy, gravitational waves, black holes and, of course, the search for that elusive unifying theory of physics. I’ve just putting the finishing touches to the Essential Guide with my left hand as I type this, and I think it’s a fair expectation that you’ll find me banging on about that (and Einstein) a lot more next month.

Also in New Scientist

1. Talking of fine-tuned universes, if you haven’t done so already, you can still catch up with Brian Clegg’s New Scientist Event talk, “The Patterns That Explain the Universe”, from last month, available on demand.

2. If you’re fan of big ideas (I hope that’s why you’re here) and like casting your net a little wider than just physics, then a ticket to our Big Thinkers series of live events gives you access to 10 talks from top researchers from across the board, including Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb on the search for extraterrestrial life and Michelle Simmons and John Martinis on quantum computing.

3. It happened just after my last newsletter, but it would be remiss not to mention the awarding of this year’s Nobel prize to three researchers who played a leading role in advancing our understanding of chaotic systems – notably the climate. You can find out more about what they did here.

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2296320-lost-in-space-time-newsletter-will-a-twisted-universe-save-cosmology/#ixzz7BlyqBCao

7 space mysteries that scientists can’t explain

2001 a space odyssey original

It’s no secret that space is full of mysteries.

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Our species has barely gone past our own planet’s moon, and only one of our probes, Voyager 1, has even left the solar system. Much of what we’ve learned about deep space has been pieced together from falling objects and views from telescopes.

Some of the famous (and chilling) space mysteries, like the face on Mars (it was shadows), or the black knight satellite “UFO” (it’s satellite debris), have been solved.

But space is rife with unexplained phenomena that put those two mere optical illusions to shame.

And some of the seven included in this slideshow could hold the key to understanding the universe.

Black holes

black hole

Black holes are the ultimate cosmic quicksand. They’re formed when a giant star collapses, imploding into a tiny area of such intense gravity, even the surrounding light is sucked in.

This means that although we’ve got a sense of how black holes work, we’ve still never actually seen one — they’re invisible to telescopes that pick up electromagnetic radiation, light, or X-rays. We can only guess what they look like on the inside.

The Giant Void

Giant Void

Unlike a black hole, the Giant Void isn’t a hole in space — instead, it’s curiously empty of both matter and dark matter. And also different from a black hole, light can pass through the void, though scientists believe it contains dark energy.

It’s not the only void in space, either, although it is the largest, with an estimated diameter of 1.3 billion light years.

Dark Matter

dark matter
The foggy haze is astronomers’ interpretation of where dark matter is located in this galaxy cluster. 

Dark matter is still a mystery, but we’re relying on it to help explain some of the unknowns of our universe — cosmologists believe as much as 27% of the universe is dark matter.

We’re more certain of what dark matter isn’t rather than what it is. It’s not made of black holes (the light warping that they’d cause isn’t present).

One theory: the dark matter of the universe is made up of primordial black holes.

Dark Energy

dark energy

In addition to the 27% of the universe that’s believed to be dark matter, a lot more is in the form of dark energy, which makes up about 68% of everything around us (the “normal” matter we all know and love is only 5% of the universe).

And like dark matter, we don’t know much about dark energy, but the current hypothesis is that it’s what’s behind the increasing expansion of the universe (whereas dark matter slows it).

Much of our understanding of dark matter and energy comes from the Cosmic Microwave Background, a snapshot of thermal radiation “soon” (380,000 years) after the Big Bang, when hydrogen atoms were first formed.

The Great Attractor

Great Attractor Skitch

There’s something really attractive 220 million light years away, and it’s dragging our whole galaxy towards it.

Ever since the Big Bang, the entire universe has been expanding, so it makes sense that our galaxy would be moving. But not in the direction it’s headed.

The cluster pointed out above is a gravitational anomaly known as the Great Attractor, and its brightness is due to its gravitational attraction. Some point to dark matter as the cause of this. And others claim that our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is blocking our view of whatever it is that’s pulling us towards it at 1.4 million mph.

Saturn’s mystery moon, “Peggy”

Saturn Moon Peggy

For a brief moment, Saturn had a tiny, mysterious little moon, named Peggy.

Back in 2013, NASA’s Cassini took this snapshot of Saturn’s rings, and caught a disturbance that astronomers believed was a new, little moon forming. The discovery shed light on how Saturn’s 67 other satellites developed.

Unfortunately, as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab pointed out in a press release announcing the satellite, “the object is not expected to grow any larger, and may even be falling apart.” Peggy’s current status is unknown.

“Tabby’s Star,” KIC 8462852

KIC 8462852

The star KIC 8462852 doesn’t just have a snappy, memorable name, it’s also an unsolved anomaly 1,500 light years away.

There’s something big in the way of KIC 8462852, also known as “Tabby’s Star.” About 20% of the light the star emits is blocked from our vantage point. And it’s probably not a planet — even one as large as Jupiter would only block 1% of a star the size of KIC 8462852.

Some have suggested it’s a Dyson Swarm, a less complete version of  a megastructure known as a Dyson Sphere, which surrounds a star and harvests its energy output. We’ll probably get a better idea of what’s going on with the star when NASA launches the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, but until then, “unknown alien megastructure” sounds like a pretty cool explanation.


A person named “John Titor” started posting on the Internet one day, claiming to be from the future and predicting the end of the world. Then he suddenly disappeared, never to be heard from again.

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This is our planet’s bleak future: a second Civil War splinters America into five factions, leaving the new capital based in Omaha. World War III breaks out in 2015, starting with Russia and the U.S. trading nukes and ending with three billion dead. Then, to top it all off, a computer bug delivers where Y2K sputtered, destroying our world as we know it. That is, unless an audacious time traveler successfully traverses the space-time continuum to change the course of future history.

In late 2000, that person signed onto the Internet.

A poster going by the screennames “TimeTravel_0” and “John Titor” on a variety of message boards, beginning with the forum at the Time Travel Institute, claimed he was a soldier sent from 2036, the year the computer virus wiped the world. His mission was to head back to 1975 in order to snatch-and-grab an IBM 5100 computer, which had the necessary equipment to fight the future virus. (His detour to the year 2000 was simply to get a little R&R while visiting his three-year-old self, ignoring every fabric-of-time paradox rule from time-travel stories.) Over the next four months, Titor responded to every question other posters had, describing future events in poetically-phrased ways, always submitted with a general disclaimer that alternate realities do exist, so his reality may not be our own. In between dire urgings to learn first aid and stop eating beef—Mad Cow was a serious threat in his reality—Titor provided a number of technical specs regarding how time travel worked, with overly complex algorithms and grainy, hard-to-make-out photos of his actual machine. (Which, yes, of course, was an automobile: a 1987 Chevy Suburban.) He even showed off his cool futuristic military insignia.

On March 24, 2001, Titor offered his final piece of advice (“Bring a gas can with you when the car dies on the side of the road”), signed off forever, and returned home. He was never heard from again.


IN 2003, TITOR FAN Oliver Williams—some may want to put “fan” in quotation marks, simply because of the numerous unsubstantiated theories that Williams himself is/was Titor—launched JohnTitor.com, which tracks Titor’s predictions and offers a compendium of all of his 151 posts. In 2004, members of George Mason University threw together a multimedia rock opera based on Titor. A summary of the tale at io9.com garnered over 103,000 hits in 2011. And, according to IMDB, a feature-length film about Titor is in the pipeline. What seemingly should have been dismissed as a four-month hoax, the work of some nerd killing time at his boring temp job, somehow turned into a phenomenon.

Since the beginning of the mysterious posts, Art Bell’s popular late-night radio program “Coast to Coast AM,” a nationally-syndicated show that covers pretty much everything that’d fit comfortably into an episode of The X-Files, has been the go-to place for all things Titor. George Noory, who replaced Bell in 2003, has continued carrying the torch, devoting entire episodes to the ongoing mystery, fielding inane questions from callers and somehow answering with a straight face. (Examples: “Is there any way that Titor could be a godsend, sent as an angel, to warn us?” and “Do you think there’s any possibility he was a space alien? I’ll hang up and listen.”) In 2006, a lawyer named Lawrence Haber, who claimed to represent Kay Titor, a woman alleging to be John’s mother, contacted Noory. An interview followed between Noory and Kay—with Haber acting as a phone go-between—and it ended up answering, well, pretty much nothing at all.

After that episode, the show intermittently tracked Titor’s proposed timeline, looking at current events like tea leaves, possible harbingers of a nuclear armageddon. But as the false predictions piled up—while many of Titor’s descriptions are vague enough to be considered “not yet disproved,” he did also claim there would be no Olympic Games after 2004—the search for Titor shifted from “Is this real?” to “Who deceived us?”

IN 2003, THE JOHN Titor Foundation, a for-profit Limited Liability Corporation, self-published John Titor: A Time Traveler’s Tale, which is essentially a bound copy of the message board posts. (Used copies of this are currently going for $130 a pop on Amazon.) The Italian investigative TV show Voyager took up the case in 2008, hiring a private eye to locate the folks behind the LLC, and a search led back to the aforementioned Lawrence Haber, who was listed as the company’s CEO. An investigation by amateur sleuth John Hughston, who also goes by the name “Razimus,” uncovered a mysterious P.O. Box in Celebration, Florida, belonging to the LLC. A group of friends with some downtime between gigs at their production company checked out the P.O. Box themselves but found nothing worthwhile. At some point, JohnTitorFoundation.com was created, offering some kind of nonsensical secret code to digital passersby. And just a week ago, Hughston released another video—this one 40 minutes long—in which he names Haber’s brother, Morey, as his prime suspect by using a side-by-side analysis of phrase-usage, which, to be kind, is not exactly a slam dunk.

(Weirder side note: In 2004, a computer engineer named Marlin Pohlman filed a patent for a time travel machine that “back-engineered” concepts in the Titor posts. This started another round of speculation that Pohlman, himself, was the original Titor poster. Last March, he was arrested for drugging and sexually assaulting four women.)

The search for Titor, then, has become more convoluted than Oliver Stone taking on the 9/11 conspiracy. A new piece of information comes out, a tech-savvy kid with some time to kill sees it, decides to give the puzzle a shot, and on and on it goes, the cycle never reaching an end. The trail burns hot, the trail goes cold, but the trail never disappears. There have been countless blog posts and armchair investigations—a Google search for “John Titor solution” bounces back with 325,000 results—but nothing’s come close to finding a worthwhile solution. An itch in the back of the throat remains, unscratched.

But why?


LAST MONTH, BRIAN DUNNING, a writer and producer specializing on the subject of skepticism, devoted an entire episode of his aptly-named podcast Skeptoid to the John Titor phenomenon, less focused on who it might have been and more about that question: why does something without any merit still have legs as an urban legend?

“Now that the number of unsubstantiated claims on the Internet is somewhat larger than the factorial of the square of all the large numbers ever conceived separated by arrow notation,” said Dunning on his podcast, “it would be a lot harder to achieve John Titor’s celebrity.”

Today, everything posted online gets a healthy dose of skepticism. Let’s call it the Post-Snopes Era. We’ve been conditioned—from everyone having access to Photoshop, to Punk’d and Jackass, to found footage films, to big budget viral marketing campaigns, to emails from faux Nigerian princes offering a portion of their riches if we simply send them our bank account number—to suspect everything. Every video of a cat performing a spectacular feat is met with at least one commenter decrying “FAKE!” The Titor story, from a time when we were all so innocent, a time that was less than 15 years ago, came right before things started to change.

And the Titor legend persists, in part, because no one ever claimed to be behind it. Now that we won’t be fooled, we need an answer. It’s the Zeigarnik effect; when something’s not wrapped up, it preoccupies our memory. Our skepticism needs a party responsible, a grand designer that allows it to make sense. When we find out—think the wizard behind the curtain in Oz, or whoever Jacob was supposed to be in that final season of Lost—the mystery ends. No one has claimed Titor, so the story continues.

There are some obvious connections for conspiracy theorists—the fracturing of governments, underground bunkers—but, for everyone else, there’s this: time travel stories are freaking cool. “This is a superpower that everyone would love to have,” said Dunning. “We all want John Titor to actually be from the future.” Who among us didn’t spend idle moments of our youth wondering about flying cars and hoverboards, or what life was like back in the Old West. In fact, when I asked Hughston, the sleuth blogger, why he was initially drawn to Titor, he said that he’d been “a big fan of time travel since about 1985,” the year Back to the Future was released.

But there’s also a much easier explanation. “The John Titor story is popular,” Dunning said, “simply because that happens to be one of the stories that became popular.” If Titor wasn’t leading conspiracy-minded white dudes in their post-graduate years of boredom and confusion down a rabbit hole of mystery, something else would. It’s Urban Legend Darwinism. Among all of the hoaxes, Internet rumors, ghost stories, and Satanic voices you can hear if you play the vinyl backwards, some have to become popular. Might as well be Titor.

There is one other (distant, remote, nearly scientifically impossible) possibility, though.

“ONE OF THE KEYS to cracking the Titor question,” starts an email by someone who goes by the name Temporal Recon, “is to just allow for the possibility that time travel very well could be true.”

The great thing about time travel: the story cannot be refuted. If events don’t happen as the traveler says, that’s because the traveler changed the timeline. “Many never even get off the ground in their research due to this very limiting view,” T.R. said. “They simply don’t believe that the human race will ever conquer time. ‘Ever’ is a very long time, Rick.”

There’s a particular point-of-view that seems to evolve within every amateur Titor investigator I encountered. As the puzzle fails to be solved, when no serious candidates present themselves, the goal of locating the hoaxster morphs ever so slightly, allowing in the possibility that maybe, just maybe, time travel could be real. “Look, of course John Titor didn’t travel through time,” they’ll say, only to dramatically shift with the addendum, “but let’s say he did.”

If you squint hard enough—and forget about the last four Olympics—things will always begin to resemble what you want to see, especially when reality’s only a minor quibble.

I mean, couldn’t the political differences that continue to separate America into red states and blue states be precursors to the Second Civil War?U.S.–Russian relations have been kind of strange lately, haven’t they?The history of 2015, when Russia and the U.S. nuke each other into oblivion, is still yet to be written!

Then T.R. writes a sentence that haunts me, one that will no doubt tip me over the edge on a course to try to solve the mystery, to locate the poster, or maybe a precocious kid now armed with a learner’s permit who once met his future self. Graphs and charts will mass, blanketing my small studio apartment, where I’ll only need a bare mattress in the corner, a pizza on the way, and a computer with browser tabs parked on obscure pages of note, set to auto-refresh. Friendships and relationships and family will drift into the ether; there are only so many hours in the day. Hands will blister, fingers will ink-stain, eyes will learn to scan for men in black suits, or white coats, or some combination thereof.

He writes: “And there are others.”

And down I’ll go, into the abyss.

Time Traveler from the Year 2027 Claims he is the Last Man on Earth


TikTok ‘time traveler from 2027’ shares video ‘proving’ he is ‘last person alive on Earth’ after apocalypse!

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A TIKTOK “time traveller” has shared new videos claimed to prove he is the last human alive on Earth after a mass extinction.

Javier, who says he is posting from the year 2027, filmed deserted streets in Spain lined with cars and buildings but no people.

'Time traveller' Javier filmed deserted city streets in Spain
‘Time traveller’ Javier filmed deserted city streets in SpainCredit: TikTok/@unicosobreviviente
He claims he is in the year 2027 and humanity is extinct
He claims he is in the year 2027 and humanity is extinct
He claims it is his 219th day as the only person on Earth
He claims it is his 219th day as the only person on EarthCredit: TikTok/@unicosobreviviente
Another vid shows him on a beach, filmed by a drone
Another vid shows him on a beach, filmed by a drone

It also shows him walking past flats and a children’s playground with no one in sight.

The footage is captioned: “Day 219 alone in the world.”

Another eerie clip appears to be filmed with a drone and shows him standing alone on a beach.

Javier shared the videos with his 6.4million followers on TikTok this week.

It follows similar videos showing deserted shopping centres and supermarkets in Valencia.

Javier, who goes by the name @unicosobreviviente (only survivor), posted his first video on February 13, claiming the city was deserted.

Javier captioned his video: “I just woke up in a hospital and I don’t know what might have happened.

“Today is February 13, 2027, and I am alone in the city. “

Another post says: “Humanity has been extinct.”

He continues: “There is no one in shopping centres”, along with footage of an empty clothes shop.

In another post, the “time traveller” asks for help from his followers.

He says: “I keep trying to find human life. I am starting to lose hope.

“Today I got something to eat. How long is this going to last? Mention in the comments who might be able to help me.”


Some users have asked how come there is still electricity to power lights and escalators, and internet to post his videos on TikTok.

He replied that he wasn’t sure but “most likely there is a type of connection between 2021 and 2027”.

Javier also shares updates of his “life in the future” and claims he is “stuck” and is trying to find a way to come back to 2021.

'No one in shopping centres', Javier said in a previous video
‘No one in shopping centres’, Javier said in a previous videoCredit: tiktok @unicosobreviviente
'What could have happened?' he asks
‘What could have happened?’ he asksCredit: tiktok @unicosobreviviente
'No one at the beaches, the boats are adrift'
‘No one at the beaches, the boats are adrift’Credit: tiktok @unicosobreviviente

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.485.1_en.html#goog_1666538125Play Video‘Time traveller’ claims to have visited 2027 and flims ‘human extinction’

Six of the Weirdest Asteroids Ever Found

Here are some of the strangest asteroids we’ve encountered so far.

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Exploring the solar system is a massive feat for humankind.  But we are good at it.  In fact, we seem to be better equipped and willing to explore what lies beyond Earth’s frontiers than exploring our planet or its oceans. Today, we have better maps of Mars than we have of the ocean floor.

And as we continue exploring the solar system, we encounter strange things.

The more we learn about the solar system, the more we understand that our cosmic neighborhood is full of strange things.

In this article, we take a look at some of the strangest Asteroids that have been found to date.

4 Vesta, the largest Asteroid

Vesta is a colorful world; craters of a variety of ages make splashes of lighter and darker brown against its surface. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
Vesta is a colorful world; craters of various ages make splashes of lighter and darker brown against its surface. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

4 Vesta is huge. It is considered the largest asteroid discovered to date in the solar system and was first identified on March 29, 1807, by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers.

Vesta measures 578 km by 458 km. The supermassive asteroid has a magnitude of +5.4 to +8.5.

With a clear sky and some luck, Vesta can be easily observed with binoculars.

4 Vesta is so massive that it contributes an estimated 9% of the asteroid belt mass. Until a few years, the largest asteroid was considered Ceres. However, this cosmic body was reclassified as a dwarf planet, given its size.

216 Kleopatra

216 Kleopatra is one of the strangest-looking asteroids in our solar system.

Shaped like a bong, the asteroid orbits in the central region of our solar system asteroid belt and has a diameter of around 138 kilometers. 216 Kleopatra could be a contact binary.

In 2008, scientists discovered two smaller moons around the asteroid, which were named Alexhelios and Cleoselene.

The odd shape and the existence of its two moons are thought to have been the result of an oblique impact that occurred around 100 million years ago.

624 Hektor

This massive space rock is considered the largest  Jupiter trojan in the solar system. It has an extremely elongated shape, equivalent in volume to a sphere of approximately 225 to 250 kilometers in diameter.

This asteroid is considered one of the most elongated bodies of its size ever discovered in the solar system, at approximately 403 km in its longest dimension.

Just like 216 Kleopatra, this asteroid has a  12-km-diameter moon named Skamandrios.

24 Themis

This is a three-dimensional model of 24 Themis created based on light-curve inversions. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 4.0.
This is a three-dimensional model of 24 Themis created based on light-curve inversions. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 4.0.

Discovered on the 5th of April, 1853 by Annibale de Gasparis of Naples, 24 Themis is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt. It stands out as the first asteroid to have ice on its surface. Observations in 2009 confirmed the existence of massive amounts of ice,  as well as organic molecules.

Observations revealed that the surface of the asteroid is completely covered in ice. The ice may be replenished by an ‘unknown’ reservoir located beneath the surface.

Because 24 Themis is located relatively close to the sun (~3.2 AU), the widespread ice on the asteroid’s surface is somewhat puzzling.


An artist's impression of the huge cigar-shaped object called 'Oumuamua.
An artist’s impression of the huge cigar-shaped object is called ‘Oumuamua.

Oumuamua is surely the strangest asteroids humankind has ever spotted.

Not only is this asteroid from another solar system, but it is also the very first interstellar visitor spotted by mankind.

What makes this asteroid even more puzzling is that for the last 12 months, there has been great speculation about the asteroid’s true origin.

In fact, the head of Astronomy at Harvard has even theorized that ‘Oumuamua may actually be, not an asteroid, but an alien spacecraft sent to our solar system by an advanced alien species.

2015 TB145


This is perhaps the stranges looking asteroid of them all, and it has been dubbed the ‘Skull-Shaped Asteroid.’

Approximately 650 meters (2,000 feet) in diameter, the asteroid often passes relatively close to Earth. The asteroid was first observed on 10 October 2015 by Pan-STARRS. Astronomers argue that given its high orbital inclination and eccentricity, 2015 TB145 may actually be an extinct comet that has shed its volatiles after numerous passes around the Sun.

NASA, MIT and DARPA Researchers Meet to Discuss ‘Antigravity’ Technologies

NASA, MIT and DARPA Researchers Meet to Discuss ‘Antigravity’ Technologies

NASA, MIT and DARPA Researchers Meet to Discuss ‘Antigravity’ Technologies.

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Antigravity is the idea of ​​a technology, applied to an object or to a space, making it possible to “cancel” gravity – and not to compensate for it as is the case with an airplane for example. Since November 2020, a number of scientists from NASA, DARPA, MIT and the Air Force have been meeting regularly on Zoom to discuss propulsion technologies of the future, including the hypothetical “antigravity”. An astonishing event given that for the moment this technology remains only in the world of science fiction or in the minds of a few dreamy theorists.

The event, dubbed the Alternative Propulsion Engineering Conference ( APEC ), was created to give scientists the opportunity to discuss taboo (even wacky) ideas that go beyond the confines of current modern science.

According to information gathered by The Debrief, 22 meetings have taken place since then, during which scientists addressed topics ranging from non-Newtonian propulsion ( Em Drive ) to the observation of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). In other words, in the words of Ron Kita, founder of Chiralex – a company that develops “gravity shielding” materials, this is the “Woodstock of gravity manipulation research”.

Recreation course for engineers or a serious scientific conference?

“The alternative propulsion community is highly cross-sectoral, and we are sandwiched between the cultures of aerospace, defense, electrical engineering, physics, UFOs and advanced science,” said Tim Ventura, moderator and conference organizer, at The Debrief.

“People from all these cultures come to the conference and make presentations, despite the fact that these different communities do not always agree on certain topics. We have managed to avoid conflicts,” he added. Reading these words, one can understand that the conference serves above all as a place for the exchange of ideas or personal work on one or another of the technologies discussed.

But it should still be noted that 16 of the 71 participants in the November event were current or former NASA scientists and engineers, according to The Debrief , and 14 others were affiliated with reputable institutions, including MIT and the ‘Harvard University. Among these marginal theorists, it is therefore very likely that one can find brilliant and realistic ideas.

The dream of defying gravity

As might be expected, this environment has created a sort of “virtual club” where highly skilled physicists and engineers can discuss their theories and experiences of antigravity without risking exposure to scientific skepticism. public. “Originally it was to be called the ‘Antigravity Conference’,” says Mark Sokol, founder of APEC, of ​​the name of the conference, “but we thought antigravity had a too negative connotation”.

The possibility of creating antigravity technology depends on the full understanding and description of gravity, as well as its interactions with other physical theories, such as general relativity and quantum mechanics. In 2021, physicists have yet to develop a quantum theory of gravity. Theoretical quantum physicists have postulated the existence of a particle of quantum gravity, the graviton. Various theoretical explanations of quantum gravity have been created, including superstring theory, loop quantum gravity, E8 theory, and asymptotic security theory, among others.

Mark Sokol is also the founder of Falcon Space, based in New Jersey (United States). He had in particular launched, with his company, in the development of a “gravitational distortion detector” (the “Warp Drive Detector”) and of the first “antigravity plane in the world”. “The Warp Drive Detector was designed by Jeremiah Popp [also active in Falcon Space] and myself,” Sokol said. “The idea is to determine if a distortion field is created, to see if something changes the speed of light near an experiment.” The theoretical device would therefore serve to help the Falcon Space team in its experiments on gravity.

Sokol and his colleague Jeremiah Popp’s painstaking analysis of the scientific literature guided them to a series of previously published antigravity experiments by Frederick Alzofon, the man who theorized the idea in 1981, when he worked for Boeing, then which allegedly performed tests in the 1990s.

Hoping to improve on this questionable but nonetheless encouraging first trial, Sokol said he plans to improve the equipment, including a recently purchased magnetic resonance generator which he says “looks like an MRI machine.” and whose retail price can reach $ 60,000. Thanks to this newer and more powerful generator, he hopes to be able to repeat his experiments with results “two to three times” better than the background noise.

In an experiment conducted by Alzofon, a sample would have lost 80% of its weight in one second, according to Sokol. However, these experiments did not convince other scientists, and one engineer in particular, David Prutchi pointed out that the experiments were flawed and that Alzofon’s results were “invalid.” “Any physicist or engineer would immediately understand that the experimental data shows absolutely no effect on the gravitational force experienced by the sample,” Prutchi said in the paper. “I congratulate David Alzofon (the son of Frederick Alzofon)for its honesty by including the AF2004 graph, because not only does it invalidate the purported experimental demonstration of the effect, but it actually provides negative evidence against it,” he added.

More recently, the Gravity Research Institute of the Göde Scientific Foundation attempted to replicate experiments believed to generate an antigravity effect. However, all attempts to observe anti-gravity effects have been unsuccessful. The foundation offered a reward of one million euros for a reproducible anti-gravity experiment. In 1989, the team of Professor Hayakawa of Tohoku University of Technology in Japan, identified an abnormal reduction in the weight of a gyroscopically rotating mass to the right of the vertical axis of the Earth. This discovery was the subject of a publication in the journal Physical Review Letters. However, “left rotations do not cause any change in weight”, Concluded the researchers.

To sum up, despite obvious efforts within the scientific community, gravity remains undefeated for the time being. But who knows, maybe that might change someday, when we get a better understanding of exactly what gravity is and what it involves. Answers will undoubtedly be provided by new theories and experiments in quantum physics. And for that, the fact that qualified researchers from different backgrounds discuss it openly and regularly, is a good thing.

UFOs: a recurring subject
The subject of UFOs (or PANs) apparently caused a stir at the November conference. The topic made a significant resurgence in pop culture this year, with military pilots speaking openly about unexplained encounters and the Pentagon teasing a long-awaited report on the matter, which was finally released in June.

“In the past, everyone was aware of UFOs, but they weren’t very relevant because they weren’t well understood,” Ventura told The Debrief, adding that the scientific community is exploring the subject more seriously than ever.

#antigravity #aerialyoga #antigravityyoga #antigravityfitness #yoga #flyyoga #aeroyoga #aerialyogalove #antigravityhammock #fitness #aerialyogaflow #aerialsilk #aerialyogateacher #aerialsling #aerialdance #suspensionfitness #aw #aerialhammock #k #valparaiso #aerialyogagirl #aeroyogachile #antigravitychile #santiagochile #aeroyogasantiago #antigravityaerialyoga #harrisonhammock #christopherharrison #aeria

5 People Who Claim to be Time Travelers

Is time travel possible?

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If you can time travel, please tell Stephen Hawking we said hi.

Is time travel possible? Short answer: Yes, and you’re doing it right now — hurtling into the future at the impressive rate of one second per second. You’re pretty much always moving through time at the same speed, whether you’re watching paint dry or wishing you had more hours to visit with a friend from out of town. 

But this isn’t the kind of time travel that’s captivated countless science fiction writers, or spurred a genre so extensive that Wikipedia lists nearly 400 titles in the category “Movies about Time Travel.” In franchises like “Doctor Who,” “Star Trek,” and “Back to the Future” characters climb into some wild vehicle to blast into the past or spin into the future. Once the characters have traveled through time, they grapple with what happens if you change the past or present based on information from the future (which is where time travel stories intersect with the idea of parallel universes or alternate timelines). 

Although many people are fascinated by the idea of changing the past or seeing the future before it’s due, no person has ever demonstrated the kind of back-and-forth time travel seen in science fiction, or proposed a method of sending a person through significant periods of time that wouldn’t destroy them on the way. And, as physicist Stephen Hawking pointed out in his book “Black Holes and Baby Universes” (Bantam, 1994), “The best evidence we have that time travel is not possible, and never will be, is that we have not been invaded by hordes of tourists from the future.”Click here for more Space.com videos…

Science does support some amount of time-bending, though. For example, physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity proposes that time is an illusion that moves relative to an observer. An observer traveling near the speed of light will experience time, with all its aftereffects (boredom, aging, etc.) much more slowly than an observer at rest. That’s why astronaut Scott Kelly aged ever so slightly less over the course of a year in orbit than his twin brother who stayed here on Earth. 

There are other scientific theories about time travel, including some weird physics that arise around wormholesblack holes and string theory. For the most part, though, time travel remains the domain of an ever-growing array of science fiction books, movies, television shows, comics, video games and more. 


Einstein developed his theory of special relativity in 1905. Along with his later expansion, the theory of general relativity, it has become one of the foundational tenets of modern physics. Special relativity describes the relationship between space and time for objects moving at constant speeds in a straight line. 

The short version of the theory is deceptively simple. First, all things are measured in relation to something else — that is to say, there is no “absolute” frame of reference. Second, the speed of light is constant. It stays the same no matter what, and no matter where it’s measured from. And third, nothing can go faster than the speed of light.

From those simple tenets unfolds actual, real-life time travel. An observer traveling at high velocity will experience time at a slower rate than an observer who isn’t speeding through space. 

While we don’t accelerate humans to near-light-speed, we do send them swinging around the planet at 17,500 mph (28,160 km/h) aboard the International Space Station. Astronaut Scott Kelly was born after his twin brother, and fellow astronaut, Mark Kelly. Scott Kelly spent 520 days in orbit, while Mark logged 54 days in space. The difference in the speed at which they experienced time over the course of their lifetimes has actually widened the age gap between the two men.

“So, where[as] I used to be just 6 minutes older, now I am 6 minutes and 5 milliseconds older,” Mark Kelly said in a panel discussion on July 12, 2020, Space.com previously reported. “Now I’ve got that over his head.” 


The difference that low earth orbit makes in an astronaut’s life span may be negligible — better suited for jokes among siblings than actual life extension or visiting the distant future — but the dilation in time between people on Earth and GPS satellites flying through space does make a difference. 

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, helps us know exactly where we are by communicating with a network of a few dozen satellites positioned in a high Earth orbit. The satellites circle the planet from 12,500 miles (20,100 kilometers) away, moving at 8,700 mph (14,000 km/h). 

According to special relativity, the faster an object moves relative to another object, the slower that first object experiences time. For GPS satellites with atomic clocks, this effect cuts 7 microseconds, or 7 millionths of a second, off each day, according to American Physical Society publication Physics Central

Then, according to general relativity, clocks closer to the center of a large gravitational mass like Earth tick more slowly than those farther away. So, because the GPS satellites are much farther from the center of Earth compared to clocks on the surface, Physics Central added, that adds another 45 microseconds onto the GPS satellite clocks each day. Combined with the negative 7 microseconds from the special relativity calculation, the net result is an added 38 microseconds. 

This means that in order to maintain the accuracy needed to pinpoint your car or phone — or, since the system is run by the U.S. Department of Defense, a military drone — engineers must account for an extra 38 microseconds in each satellite’s day. The atomic clocks onboard don’t tick over to the next day until they have run 38 microseconds longer than comparable clocks on Earth.

Given those numbers, it would take more than seven years for the atomic clock in a GPS satellite to unsync itself from an Earth clock by more than a blink of an eye. (We did the math: If you estimate a blink to last at least 100,000 microseconds, as the Harvard Database of Useful Biological Numbers does, it would take thousands of days for those 38 microsecond shifts to add up.) 

This kind of time travel may seem as negligible as the Kelly brothers’ age gap, but given the hyper-accuracy of modern GPS technology, it actually does matter. If it can communicate with the satellites whizzing overhead, your phone can nail down your location in space and time with incredible accuracy. Click here for more Space.com videos…


General relativity might also provide scenarios that could allow travelers to go back in time, according to NASA. But the physical reality of those time-travel methods are no piece of cake. 

Wormholes are theoretical “tunnels” through the fabric of space-time that could connect different moments or locations in reality to others. Also known as Einstein-Rosen bridges or white holes, as opposed to black holes, speculation about wormholes abounds. But despite taking up a lot of space (or space-time) in science fiction, no wormholes of any kind have been identified in real life. 

“The whole thing is very hypothetical at this point,” Stephen Hsu, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oregon, told Space.com sister site Live Science. “No one thinks we’re going to find a wormhole anytime soon.”

Besides the absence of identifiable wormholes, another obstacle in the way of wormhole time travel is their hypothetical size. Primordial wormholes are predicted to be infinitesimally small, about 10^-34 inches (10^-33 centimeters) at the “mouth” of the tunnel. As the universe expands, it’s possible that wormholes could stretch along with it, but other problems take hold. 

Even hypothetical wormholes are expected to be extremely unstable, Hsu said, blinking in and out of existence before anything could travel through them. 

“You would need some very exotic type of matter in order to stabilize a wormhole,” Hsu added, “and it’s not clear whether such matter exists in the universe.”


While Einstein’s theories appear to make time travel difficult, some researchers have proposed other solutions that could allow jumps back and forth in time. These alternate theories share one major flaw: As far as scientists can tell, there’s no way a person could survive the kind of gravitational pulling and pushing that each solution requires. 

Infinite cylinder theory

Astronomer Frank Tipler proposed a mechanism (sometimes known as a Tipler Cylinder) where one could take matter that is 10 times the sun’s mass, then roll it into a very long, but very dense cylinder. The Anderson Institute, a time travel research organization, described the cylinder as “a black hole that has passed through a spaghetti factory.”

After spinning this black hole spaghetti a few billion revolutions per minute, a spaceship nearby — following a very precise spiral around the cylinder — could travel backwards in time on a “closed, time-like curve,” according to the Anderson Institute. 

The major problem is that in order for the Tipler Cylinder to become reality, the cylinder would need to be infinitely long or be made of some unknown kind of matter. At least for the foreseeable future, endless interstellar pasta is beyond our reach.

Time donuts

Theoretical physicist Amos Ori at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, proposed a model for a time machine made out of curved space-time — a donut-shaped vacuum surrounded by a sphere of normal matter.

“The machine is space-time itself,” Ori told Live Science. “If we were to create an area with a warp like this in space that would enable time lines to close on themselves, it might enable future generations to return to visit our time.”

There are a few caveats to Ori’s time machine. First, visitors to the past wouldn’t be able to travel to times earlier than the invention and construction of the time donut. Second, and more importantly, the invention and construction of this machine would depend on our ability to manipulate gravitational fields at will — a feat that may be theoretically possible, but is certainly beyond our immediate reach.


Time travel has long occupied a significant place in fiction. Since as early as the “Mahabharata,” an ancient Sanskrit epic poem compiled around 400 B.C., humans have dreamed of warping time, Lisa Yaszek, a professor of science fiction studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, told Live Science

Every work of time-travel fiction creates its own version of space-time, glossing over one or more scientific hurdles and paradoxes to achieve its plot requirements. 

Some make a nod to research and physics, like “Interstellar,” a 2014 film directed by Christopher Nolan. In the movie, a character played by Matthew McConaughey spends a few hours on a planet orbiting a supermassive black hole, but because of time dilation, observers on Earth experience those hours as a matter of decades. 

Others take a more whimsical approach, like the “Doctor Who” television series. The series features the Doctor, an extraterrestrial “Time Lord” who travels in a spaceship resembling a blue British police box. “People assume,” the Doctor explained in the show, “that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.” 

Long-standing franchises like the “Star Trek” movies and television series, as well as comic universes like DC and Marvel Comics revisit the idea of time travel over and over. 

Here is an incomplete (and deeply subjective) list of some influential or notable works of time travel fiction:

Books about time travel:

  • Rip Van Winkle (Cornelius S. Van Winkle, 1819) by Washington Irving
  • A Christmas Carol (Chapman & Hall, 1843) by Charles Dickens
  • The Time Machine (William Heinemann, 1895) by H. G. Wells
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Charles L. Webster and Co., 1889) by Mark Twain
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Pan Books, 1980) by Douglas Adams
  • A Tale of Time City (Methuen, 1987) by Diana Wynn Jones
  • The Outlander series (Delacorte Press, 1991-present) by Diana Gabaldon
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Bloomsbury/Scholastic, 1999) by J. K. Rowling
  • Thief of Time (Doubleday, 2001) by Terry Pratchett
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (MacAdam/Cage, 2003) by Audrey Niffenegger
  • All You Need is Kill (Shueisha, 2004) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Movies about time travel:

  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
  • Superman (1978)
  • Time Bandits (1981)
  • The Terminator (1984)
  • Back to the Future series (1985, 1989, 1990)
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • Galaxy Quest (1999)
  • The Butterfly Effect (2004)
  • 13 Going on 30 (2004)
  • The Lake House (2006)
  • Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
  • Midnight in Paris (2011)
  • Looper (2012)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
  • The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Tenet (2020)
  • Palm Springs (2020)
  • Zach Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  • The Tomorrow War (2021)

Television about time travel:

  • Doctor Who (1963-present)
  • The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) (multiple episodes)
  • Star Trek (multiple series, multiple episodes)
  • Samurai Jack (2001-2004)
  • Lost (2004-2010)
  • Phil of the Future (2004-2006)
  • Steins;Gate (2011)
  • Outlander (2014-present)
  • Loki (2021-present)

Games about time travel:

  • Chrono Trigger (1995)
  • TimeSplitters (2000-2005)
  • Kingdom Hearts (2002-2019)
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2003)
  • God of War II (2007)
  • Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack In Time (2009)
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (2013)
  • Dishonored 2 (2016)
  • Titanfall 2 (2016)
  • Outer Wilds (2019)

Great conjunctions between Saturn and Jupiter Moon are rare

Great conjunctions between Saturn and Jupiter Moon are rare, the next easily observable conjunction of the two planets is not expected for nearly 40 years.

#jupiter #saturn #astronomy #space #nasa #universe #astrophotography #science #cosmos #moon #stars #galaxy #astrophysics #nightsky #physics #photography #spacex #milkyway #cosmology #astro #earth #astronomia #sky #nature #telescope #astronaut #nightphotography #solarsystem #planets #night #mars

NASA probe snaps ‘great conjunction’ photo of Jupiter and Saturn from the moon

Behold, the view from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured an image of 2020's great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
(Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

A moon-orbiting probe got a stunning up-close view of the “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn from Earth’s rocky satellite. 

Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer in the night sky than they had in about 800 years during what’s known as a “great conjunction.” People all around the globe watched and photographed the planets, which looked almost like a single, bright “star” in the sky. However, us Earthlings weren’t the only ones who got a celestial show. 

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which launched in 2009 and has enough fuel to keep orbiting the moon for another six years, spotted the cosmic event all the way from the moon. 

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera’s (LROC) Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) captured an unbelievable image of the two planets just a few hours after the pair’s point of closest separation (0.1 degrees). Now, while Jupiter and Saturn may have looked like one glowing orb to the naked eye, with the detailed view of the NAC, you can clearly resolve the individual planets. In fact, the image provides so much detail that you can even faintly see Saturn’s rings. 

Here on Earth, skywatchers were able to see Jupiter’s moons with DSLR cameras and even basic telescopes, though Saturn’s rings were usually only visible with higher-powered telescopes. 

On Dec. 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will appear just one-tenth of a degree apart, or about the thickness of a dime held at arm's length, according to NASA. During the event, known as a "great conjunction," the two planets (and their moons) will be visible in the same field of view through binoculars or a telescope.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn appeared just one-tenth of a degree apart, or about the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length, according to NASA. During the event, known as a “great conjunction,” the two planets (and their moons) were visible in the same field of view through binoculars or a telescope.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

When the NAC captured this image of the two planets, Jupiter was about four times brighter than Saturn, so the brightness of the original image was adjusted to make both equally visible. 

While Jupiter and Saturn have a close conjunction once every 20 years, the planets haven’t appeared this close since 1623. Additionally, the planetary alignment came just a few days before Christmas, with many dubbing the bright event a “Christmas Star,” adding even more to the astronomical excitement. 

When UFOs Attack – Documented Cases of Hostile Alien Encounters

#UFO #UAP #Alien #hostile #unknown

If there is one misguided theme I have heard repeated many times in and outside of the UFO community, it is the notion that UFOs and extraterrestrials are our benevolent technological and spiritual superiors, who are only trying to watch over us and gently guide human kind from a path of nuclear, biological and ecological self-destruction to an interstellar highway of spiritual enlightenment and prosperity.

This mantra has been repeated ad nauseum ever since the first UFO was sighted and close encounter was experienced. Yet, there is much documented evidence that these aliens, extraterrestrials or inter-dimensional interlopers may not always be benevolent. On the contrary, there is much more proof that these uninvited guests, who boldly penetrate our airspace, have at times kidnapped, injured and killed innocent humans and animals.

Thankfully, this wasn’t the case in the latest, solidly documented close-encounter case recorded in a recently released Pentagon UFO study. The usually mum Department of Defense almost appeared eager to report the Nov. 14, 2004 UFO incident, experienced by former Navy pilot David Fravor, who repeated a familiar story to all of us who have studied the history of Ufology the last 70 years. While flying a routine mission off an aircraft carrier he and other pilots spotted a UFO that made incredibly sharp turns and reached speeds impossible for aircraft using Earth’s technology. As he watched this mystery craft zip away at an extremely high speed, he came to the same conclusion many of his fellow, military pilots have come to: “It was not of this world,” Fravor told various news organizations. He added that no human could have possibly withstood the G force of such a tremendous thrust of sudden acceleration.

In this concise report, I will present to you documented evidence of a pilot unlike Fravor, who suffered harm in such a mysterious encounter. Such incidents are vastly under reported. For example, until I really started researching this subject, I never realized that a U.S. Army pilot became the first known casualty as a result of such UFO aggression. Although the Army denied this, and summarily covered up this horrifying event with no less than three different, ever- morphing cover stories, I will present you with documentation and eyewitness accounts from credible witnesses that prove within a reasonable doubt that on a January afternoon in 1948 hostile extraterrestrials committed an act of war against the United States. It was likely not the first – and certainly – will not be the last.

I will also present evidence that proves that the population of a small island was terrorized and its impoverished residents used as guinea pigs by an alleged flap of UFOs that harassed and injured scores of innocent men and women for a period of months. Some of these unfortunates still carry the scars from burns and wounds that were inflicted upon them by these unknown perpetrators. The proof consists of eyewitness accounts and secret documents that have been leaked out over several decades. Additionally, in this report, I will document numerous cases of aggressive and hostile UFO acts taken against both military and commercial pilots.

As a bonus, I have also included many little known UFO sighting reports from the early 1860’s to the present. Even though some of these are not directly hostile encounters, all of them invaded our airspace and in some cases crash landed, exposing humans to potential injury or death. Plus, I will present documentation of ongoing cattle mutilations that remain a dark mystery but point to either nefarious government and alien culprits — or a collaboration of both. In conclusion, I must warn you that some will not like this report. They will categorize my conclusions as alarmist and sensational. But as always, I leave it up to you the reader to decide.

Here’s Our Best Look Yet at Saturn’s ‘UFO’ Moon

Saturn's moon, Pan
One of Cassini’s new views of Saturn’s moon Pan.PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE
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Saturn’s ‘UFO’ Moon Pan is unlike anything else you will encounter!

#UFO #Moon #Staurn #Pan

Adorned with a thin band of icy ring particles, the small moon Pan inspires comparisons to alien spacecraft, walnuts, and even ravioli.

There’s a tiny “flying saucer” orbiting deep within Saturn’s rings, and a NASA probe has just gotten its most impressive look yet at the strange object.

The saucer is actually a little moon called Pan, and NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured its distinctive shape on March 7 in a stunningly detailed series of images.

When she first saw the new pictures of Pan, Cassini scientist Carolyn Porco thought they might be an artist’s representation.

Saturn's moon, Pan
Another raw image from Cassini showcases Pan’s equatorial band.

“They are real! Science is better than fiction,” she later commented.

Named for the flute-playing Greek god of wild places, 21-mile-wide Pan is what’s called a shepherd moon. It lives within a gap in Saturn’s A ring, which is the farthest loop of icy particles from the planet. As it zips around Saturn, Pan continually clears debris from the gap by vacuuming up some ring particles and punting others away, like a little Roomba with a force field.

In fact, it’s this absence of ring junk that led scientists to predict Pan’s existence as early as the mid-1980s. But the small moon wasn’t officially discovered until 1990, when Mark Showalter and his colleagues took a good look at images returned by the Voyager 2 spacecraft and found the moon that is responsible for the gap’s existence.about:blank

Now, with the Cassini spacecraft zooming through the Saturnian system, scientists have gotten the chance to see Pan up close. Early images revealed its walnut shape, which Porco and her colleagues attributed to debris from the rings.

These more recent images show in detail that the moon is swaddled in what’s called an equatorial accretion disk, or a smooth, thin layer of ring particles that have been glued on to Pan’s waistline by the moon’s meager gravity.

“This is such a far cry from the nondescript ‘dots’ that I was tracking way back in 1990 in the Voyager images! It’s very gratifying finally to see Pan’s closeup,”says Showalter, now at the SETI Institute in California.

In a 2007 study published in Science, Porco suggested the thin disk formed long ago, before the moon had completely vacuumed out material from the gap.

“The shape, as others have also pointed out, is probably because it is always sweeping up fine dust from the rings,” Showalter explains. “The rings are very thin compared to the size of Pan, so the dust accumulates around its equator.”

Pan isn’t alone in its bizarre appearance: Another small moon, Atlas, bears a similar shape for similar reasons.

Could the Next Space Station Be a Hotel?

Commercializing space is no longer a far-out idea. In fact, NASA is fully on board. #space #spacehotel #hotel #spacestation

It had a good run.
It had a good run. Photographer: NASA/Getty

In 1967, Barron Hilton, the future head of Hilton Hotels Corp., turned up at an American Astronautical Society meeting devoted to “outer space tourism.” The first moon landing was still two years out, but Hilton wasn’t going to be late to the next big travel market. At the conference, he laid out plans for Earth-orbiting Hiltons and lunar hotels, complete with Galaxy Lounges where guests might “enjoy a martini and the stars.”

Alas, humans would have to wait decades for an outer-space outpost, and the one they got, the International Space Station, wasn’t built for private occupation, much less luxury travel. But now, as the ISS nears the end of its useful life, some entrepreneurs are revisiting Hilton’s vision — and even thinking bigger.

The American ambition to commercialize space is almost as old as the urge to explore it. In 1962, NASA launched Telstar 1, the world’s first privately financed satellite (paid for by AT&T). Hours after launch, it relayed the first live trans-Atlantic television pictures, opening the way for today’s multibillion-dollar communication-satellite industry.

But actual space stations that could host human visitors turned out to be a far greater challenge. Although Soviet and American scientists launched competing designs for such a facility in the 1970s, these were more akin to floating tin cans than Hilton’s vacation bungalows. Yet NASA was lobbying for something much more ambitious: a crewed orbital station that could serve as a laboratory, factory and waypoint for travel to the moon and Mars.

The ISS, announced in 1984, seemed to fit the bill. Like many government projects with multiple stakeholders, however, it ran persistently over-budget and over-deadline. Its first launch didn’t get off the ground until 1998. Total costs over the three decades to 2015 are thought to have exceeded $150 billion, giving the ISS a decent claim to being the most expensive thing ever built. For that kind of money, Americans rightly expected the ISS to get a lot done. Yet the facility has been badly underused for most of its history, thanks to both chronic mismanagement and the high cost of delivering people and equipment to space.

Starting in 2005, NASA hit on a new strategy for addressing the latter problem. It signed agreements with three private space companies to deliver cargo and crew to the station, in the hopes of both driving down costs and encouraging a commercial space industry to develop. NASA would act as an adviser and investor, and select the most promising design to replace the soon-to-be-retired Space Shuttle.

It was a long-shot bet that little-known companies such as SpaceX could do better than traditional aerospace contractors. And it was a huge success: Sixteen years later, the cost of launching people and gear to the ISS has fallen dramatically, and commercial space is booming. Last year, Estee Lauder Cos. arranged for face cream to be photographed on the station. This year, tourists will arrive for a holiday via a SpaceX rocket (at $55 million per ticket) and Tom Cruise will film scenes for an upcoming movie.

But NASA’s vision extends well beyond such one-offs. In 2020, the agency contracted with Axiom Space Inc. to attach modules (with Philippe Starck-designed interiors) to the ISS that will break off and form a commercial station that will include residential quarters as well as a lab and manufacturing facility. In March, it announced that it will fund up to four other companies to develop competing concepts, using a similar model to the one that led to SpaceX’s success. 

Many details remain to be worked out, including what exactly to do with the ISS. But a sustainable commercial outpost in low-Earth orbit has a lot to recommend it. NASA would merely have to be a customer rather than an owner-operator, thus saving money for taxpayers or for other space priorities. Companies could use the new platform to conduct microgravity experiments, pharmaceutical research, materials-science testing and more. As costs decline, there’s good reason to think that they’ll come up with entirely novel uses for it.

Of course, no one should expect orbiting Hiltons just yet. But the dream of commercializing space is no longer a moonshot.

A new ‘Einstein’ equation suggests wormholes hold key to quantum gravity

ER=EPR summarizes new clues to understanding entanglement and spacetime

illustration of a wormhole
Wormholes, tunnels through the fabric of spacetime that connect widely separated locations, are predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Some physicists think that wormholes could connect black holes in space, possibly providing a clue to the mysteries of quantum entanglement and how to merge general relativity with quantum mechanics.STOCKERNUMBER2/SHUTTERSTOCK 

There’s a new equation floating around the world of physics these days that would make Einstein proud.

It’s pretty easy to remember: ER=EPR.

You might suspect that to make this equation work, P must be equal to 1. But the symbols in this equation stand not for numbers, but for names. E, you probably guessed, stands for Einstein. R and P are initials — for collaborators on two of Einstein’s most intriguing papers. Combined in this equation, these letters express a possible path to reconciling Einstein’s general relativity with quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics and general relativity are both spectacularly successful theories. Both predict bizarre phenomena that defy traditional conceptions of reality. Yet when put to the test, nature always complies with each theory’s requirements. Since both theories describe nature so well, it’s hard to explain why they’ve resisted all efforts to mathematically merge them. Somehow, everybody believes, they must fit together in the end. But so far nature has kept the form of their connection a secret.

ER=EPR, however, suggests that the key to their connection can be found in the spacetime tunnels known as wormholes. These tunnels, implied by Einstein’s general relativity, would be like subspace shortcuts physically linking distant locations. It seems that such tunnels may be the alter ego of the mysterious link between subatomic particles known as quantum entanglement.

For the last 90 years or so, physicists have pursued two main quantum issues separately: one, how to interpret the quantum math to make sense of its weirdness (such as entanglement), and two, how to marry quantum mechanics to gravity. It turns out, if ER=EPR is right, that both questions have the same answer: Quantum weirdness can be understood only if you understand its connection to gravity. Wormholes may forge that link.

Wormholes are technically known as Einstein-Rosen bridges (the “ER” part of the equation). Nathan Rosen collaborated with Einstein on a paper describing them in 1935. EPR refers to another paper Einstein published with Rosen in 1935, along with Boris Podolsky. That one articulated quantum entanglement’s paradoxical puzzles about the nature of reality. For decades nobody seriously considered the possibility that the two papers had anything to do with one another. But in 2013, physicists Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind proposed that in some sense, wormholes and entanglement describe the same thing.

Celebrate Earth Day 2021 with the Lyrid Meteor Shower

Don’t miss the first big meteor shower of 2021! I’ll show you when and where to look to see the Lyrids and give some tips on ways to increase the number of meteors you can see! Be sure to let me know about your questions and experience with the Lyrid Meteor Shower in the comment section below. Clear skies everyone!

Lyrid meteor shower peaks predawn April 22. Here’s how to watch

This is a meteor from the Lyrids, as seen in the sky in Schermbeck, Germany, April 22, 2020.This is a meteor from the Lyrids, as seen in the sky in Schermbeck, Germany, April 22, 2020.

Every year from January to mid-April, we experience a “meteor drought,” without a single shower for months.That all ends April 22 this year with the first show of the season: the annual Lyrid meteor shower.”These dazzling meteors are fast and bright, with a striking golden trail of dust streaking behind them,” CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said.

The Lyrids, which are best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, have been observed for 2,700 years, according to NASA. During its peak, this shower will feature about 10 meteors per hour.

You might even spot a fireball flying across the sky or the glowing dust trail the meteors frequently leave behind them as they streak through Earth’s atmosphere.

As with all meteor showers, the darker the sky, the more visible the Lyrids will be. If you want to view them, you’ll have your best luck away from urban areas where city lights can obstruct the view.” Light pollution is one of the biggest struggles when trying to see meteors, and it seems to be getting worse each year,” Jones said.

But there is one other factor that impacts light as well: the moon. This year, the moon will be in its waxing gibbous phase; it will be about 70% illuminated. Since the moon will be so bright, it’s suggested you view the sky after moonset and before sunrise, according to EarthSky.Between midnight and dawn, the Lyrid meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, according to the American Meteor Society. The best time for viewing them April 22 will be the last hour before the start of morning twilight: around 4-5 a.m. local Daylight Saving Time.The view of the starry sky shining over the Baltic Sea, when the Lyrids passed through in 2020. The view of the starry sky shining over the Baltic Sea, when the Lyrids passed through in 2020.After you’ve decided on your viewing location and time, come prepared with a blanket and simply lie back, with your feet facing east, and look toward the sky. Take 30 minutes beforehand to let your eyes adjust to the dark, without looking at your phone.Be patient, as the AMS suggests: “Serious observers should watch for at least an hour as numerous peaks and valleys of activity will occur.”If your eye catches a meteor in the sky, you’ll be observing one of the lost pieces of Comet Thatcher, the source of the Lyrid meteors. These fragments fly into our upper atmosphere at 110,000 miles per hour as Earth’s orbit crosses its path.”When these pieces interact with our atmosphere, they burn up to reveal the fiery, colorful streaks you can find in our night sky,” Jones said.If you miss the meteors this week but still want to gaze at the sky, see next week’s “pink” full supermoon on April 26. While the moon won’t actually be pink, it will appear extra bright since supermoons are slightly closer to Earth.

Meteor blazes across South Florida skies

There was debate online regarding the meteor’s origin

Southern Florida residents were stunned to see a meteor blazing through the darkness Monday night, with some sharing footage of the spectacle on social media.

Dashcam and security video revealed the quick, bright flash of light as the meteor streaked through the Earth’s atmosphere.

In a matter of seconds, the fireball had disappeared from sight. 

At 10:16 p.m. ET, a doorbell camera looking out on a back patio in Parkland showed how the sky lit up and a Coral Springs Twitter user with a Nest camera recorded a different angle of its descent.

“Did you happen to see a meteor this evening? We’ve gotten a few reports about one that could be seen from #SWFL!” tweeted the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay account. “Our #GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) appears to have captured the bright meteor as it burned up off the coast.”

Local reporter Jay O’Brien was streaming on Facebook Live when he captured the meteor in West Palm Beach.

“WOAH!” he said on Twitter. “Big flash and streak across sky in West Palm Beach. Happened moments ago while we were on Facebook Live for a @CBS12 story. Working to figure out what it was.”

O’Brien’s colleague, meteorologist Zach Covey, replied and said that the space rock was “like a chunk of an asteroid known as 2021 GW4.”Whoops! We couldn’t access this Tweet.

However, NPR reported Tuesday that there seemed to be “disagreement” over whether or not that was actually the case.

Space.com said Monday that 2021 GW4 — which was first spotted on April 8 and is estimated to be about 14 feet across —  had harmlessly flown past Earth and was approximately just more than 16,000 miles away.

While NASA notes an asteroid is a “relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun,” a meteor is the “light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes.”

A meteoroid is a “small particle” from an asteroid.

In general, meteors are common, though less than 5% make it to the ground, according to the agency.


Though hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “In Bloom” remain FM staples decades later, the tragic 1994 death of singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain cut short any future catalog for grunge rock pioneers Nirvana. But in 2021, we actually have a “new” Nirvana song — thanks to artificial intelligence and a pitch perfect assist from a cover band leading man.

As part of the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, a project that is using artificial intelligence to create new music in the style of famous musicians who died at the age of 27, the “new” Nirvana song “Drowned in the Sun” was born. The Lost Tapes of the 27 Club zeroes in on famous musicians whose lives were cut short, talents like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and of course Cobain, and uses AI to analyze dozens of an artist’s songs to create something new and original in their trademark style.

There’s no doubt this new Nirvana tune evokes the trademark vibe of Cobain’s gritty guitars and crunchy melodies, and the AI actually generated some very Cobain-esque lyrics, including the chorus, “I don’t care, I feel as one, drowned in the sun.” The song-writing was all handled by AI, though Nirvana tribute band lead singer Eric Hogan helped provide the Cobain-esque growl to bring the lyrics to life.

Check out the tune below:

On the tech side, the project utilized Google’s AI program Magenta to study and break down the recurring components of the songs and generate the “new” tune from those building blocks. The AI studied everything from stylistic tendencies to note choices to get the sound just right. The same approach was taken with lyrics, with AI studying several different songs to “learn” the artist’s writing style.

Though the project is a fascinating use of AI, it also has a deeper purpose: bringing to light the need for mental health. The effort is being spearheaded by the organization Over the Bridge, which provides mental health assistance for those in the music industry. Over the Bridge board member Sean O’Connor told Rolling Stone the music industry has a tendency to normalize and romanticize depression, and this project aims to ask the question: “What if all these musicians that we love had mental health support?”

Astronauts Really Could Carry M16s on the Moon

In For All Mankind, U.S. Marines pack heat in space. That could happen in real life, too—with a catch.


  • The second season of the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind shows U.S. Marines in space using M16s.
  • Astronauts probably wouldn’t use real M16s in space—but they could still use guns.
  • Low gravity and crazy temperature swings would make traditional guns inoperable in space.

The Apple TV+ sci-fi series For All Mankind, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, just introduced a new element: space guns.

The ongoing second season of the acclaimed series, which imagines an alternate history in which the Soviets beat NASA to the moon and the global space race never ended, depicts spacefaring U.S. troops using M16s. In real life, however, a weapon like the M16 would be extremely difficult to operate in space.

Using weapons in the extremes of space, including wild temperature swings and low gravity, would present challenges for both those who design and carry the weapons.

In For All Mankind, NASA, stung by its crushing defeat in the space race, redoubles its efforts to take the lead against the Soviets. That includes sending women into the Apollo program and building a giant, sea-launched cargo rocket called “Sea Dragon.”This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

By the 1980s, the first American lunar colony, Jamestown, is firmly established on the moon, supplied by regular Space Shuttle missions. The seizure of an American lithium mine by Soviet cosmonauts triggers the deployment of five U.S. Marines to the Jamestown colony, all armed with space versions of the M16A2 rifle.

The M16 was obviously designed to function on Earth, in Earth gravity, within a band of temperatures normally found on Earth. The rifle can work in deserts in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and in “extreme cold weather,” the U.S. Army says. (That’s as specific as it gets.)

While those conditions seem broad by Earth standards, in space, it’s a different story.

Gravity itself will vary, from zero-gravity conditions far from planetary bodies to one-sixth of Earth’s gravity on the moon. Temperatures on the moon can swing wildly, from a high of 260 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 280 degrees.

gi on patrol

A U.S. soldier with the 1st Cavalry Division on patrol, Vietnam, 1971.CHRISTOPHER JENSENGETTY IMAGES

Gravity would affect all aspects of the M16, from how bullets are seated in the magazine to how the buffer spring would bounce the bolt carrier group back and forth inside the weapon. The internal action of the M16 is precisely timed, and a change in gravity would throw everything off.

Changing the mass of various internal parts, spring weights, and even the type and amount of gunpowder used might make a lunar M16 workable—but it would require a lot of testing under lunar conditions. One concern: The M16 uses gunpowder gases to cycle the weapon. Just how would that hot, pressurized gunpowder gas behave in low gravity?This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Bullets in principle should work fine, since they use their own propellant and don’t rely on oxygen. But again, the big issue here would be gravity.

Under Earth gravity, an M16 bullet starts a slow, inexorable drop as soon as it exits the barrel, one that eventually ends up with the bullet plowing into the ground. Earth’s gravitational influence means a terrestrial M16 bullet will drop 24 inches at 400 yards. While a bullet fired under lunar gravity would still eventually plow into the lunar soil, at one-sixth gravity, the same bullet would fly a flatter, steadier trajectory for far longer.

There’s no wind in space or on the moon, so there would be no need to calculate for windage at longer ranges. At 400 yards, wind at 10 miles per hour will blow an M16 bullet 21 inches off course—enough to miss a man-sized target. A lack of wind will make it easier to hit a target, at least in the horizontal axis.

soldier in the saudi desert

The M16 can work in Earth environments as diverse as searing deserts and freezing tundra, but that’s nothing compared to conditions on the moon.HISTORICALGETTY IMAGES

Temperatures would prove to be another challenge. Engineers could probably develop a lubricant that operates within a 500-degree band, but Space Marines would need to be careful with their rate of fire. A gun already heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit would start to have heat issues more quickly than one on Earth, including bullet propellant igniting in the chamber before the trigger is pulled (“cooking off”) and even melting rifle parts.

And then there’s a problem totally unique to the moon: moon dust. The dust, a fine coating of lunar soil found up to 60 miles above the moon’s surface, could get into a rifle’s internals and cause it to jam. The M16 is particularly vulnerable to jamming, and is even equipped with a dust cover to prevent dust, dirt, and sand from entering the weapon before it’s fired. How would you keep moon dust out of an M16 during combat?RELATED STORYEverything You Actually Need to Know About Guns

For All Mankind does give the space M16s some thought. On the show, the rifles are white and silver, colors that let them blend in with the moon dust, and they’re equipped with collapsing stocks and optical sights.

Real M16s in the 1980s featured fixed stocks and lacked optical sights. Collapsing stocks would be more ergonomic for shooters in large, bulky spacesuits. The raised optical sight, meanwhile, would be easier for an astronaut in a space suit to use, but a laser sight would allow the space shooter to shoot accurately without aiming.

m16 for all mankind


Our reality has been spared a world with space rifles, but with the establishment of the Space Force and the increasing militarization of space, it seems inevitable that small arms will eventually make their way into space and beyond.

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found
This image was taken with the FORS2 instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in late 2019, when comet 2I/Borisov passed near the Sun. Since the comet was travelling at breakneck speed, around 175 000 kilometres per hour, the background stars appeared as streaks of light as the telescope followed the comet’s trajectory. The colours in these streaks give the image some disco flair and are the result of combining observations in different wavelength bands, highlighted by the various colours in this composite image. Credit: ESO/O. Hainaut

New observations with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) indicate that the rogue comet 2I/Borisov, which is only the second and most recently detected interstellar visitor to our Solar System, is one of the most pristine ever observed. Astronomers suspect that the comet most likely never passed close to a star, making it an undisturbed relic of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.

2I/Borisov was discovered by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov in August 2019 and was confirmed to have come from beyond the Solar System a few weeks later. “2I/Borisov could represent the first truly pristine comet ever observed,” says Stefano Bagnulo of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Northern Ireland, UK, who led the new study published today in Nature Communications. The team believes that the comet had never passed close to any star before it flew by the Sun in 2019.

Bagnulo and his colleagues used the FORS2 instrument on ESO’s VLT, located in northern Chile, to study 2I/Borisov in detail using a technique called polarimetry. Since this technique is regularly used to study comets and other small bodies of our Solar System, this allowed the team to compare the interstellar visitor with our local comets.

The team found that 2I/Borisov has polarimetric properties distinct from those of Solar System comets, with the exception of Hale-Bopp. Comet Hale-Bopp received much public interest in the late 1990s as a result of being easily visible to the naked eye, and also because it was one of the most pristine comets astronomers had ever seen. Prior to its most recent passage, Hale-Bopp is thought to have passed by our Sun only once and had therefore barely been affected by solar wind and radiation. This means it was pristine, having a composition very similar to that of the cloud of gas and dust it—and the rest of the Solar System—formed from some 4.5 billion years ago.

By analysing the polarisation together with the colour of the comet to gather clues on its composition, the team concluded that 2I/Borisov is in fact even more pristine than Hale-Bopp. This means it carries untarnished signatures of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.

“The fact that the two comets are remarkably similar suggests that the environment in which 2I/Borisov originated is not so different in composition from the environment in the early Solar System,” says Alberto Cellino, a co-author of the study, from the Astrophysical Observatory of Torino, National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), Italy.

Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer at ESO in Germany who studies comets and other near-Earth objects but was not involved in this new study, agrees. “The main result—that 2I/Borisov is not like any other comet except Hale-Bopp—is very strong,” he says, adding that “it is very plausible they formed in very similar conditions.”

“The arrival of 2I/Borisov from interstellar space represented the first opportunity to study the composition of a comet from another planetary system and check if the material that comes from this comet is somehow different from our native variety,” explains Ludmilla Kolokolova, of the University of Maryland in the US, who was involved in the Nature Communications research.

Bagnulo hopes astronomers will have another, even better, opportunity to study a rogue comet in detail before the end of the decade. “ESA is planning to launch Comet Interceptor in 2029, which will have the capability of reaching another visiting interstellar object, if one on a suitable trajectory is discovered,” he says, referring to an upcoming mission by the European Space Agency.

An origin story hidden in the dust

Even without a space mission, astronomers can use Earth’s many telescopes to gain insight into the different properties of rogue comets like 2I/Borisov. “Imagine how lucky we were that a comet from a system light-years away simply took a trip to our doorstep by chance,” says Bin Yang, an astronomer at ESO in Chile, who also took advantage of 2I/Borisov’s passage through our Solar System to study this mysterious comet. Her team’s results are published in Nature Astronomy.

Yang and her team used data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, as well as from ESO’s VLT, to study 2I/Borisov’s dust grains to gather clues about the comet’s birth and conditions in its home system.

They discovered that 2I/Borisov’s coma—an envelope of dust surrounding the main body of the comet—contains compact pebbles, grains about one millimetre in size or larger. In addition, they found that the relative amounts of carbon monoxide and water in the comet changed drastically as it neared the Sun. The team, which also includes Olivier Hainaut, says this indicates that the comet is made up of materials that formed in different places in its planetary system.

The observations by Yang and her team suggest that matter in 2I/Borisov’s planetary home was mixed from near its star to further out, perhaps because of the existence of giant planets, whose strong gravity stirs material in the system. Astronomers believe that a similar process occurred early in the life of our Solar System.

While 2I/Borisov was the first rogue comet to pass by the Sun, it was not the first interstellar visitor. The first interstellar object to have been observed passing by our Solar System was ‘Oumuamua, another object studied with ESO’s VLT back in 2017. Originally classified as a comet, ‘Oumuamua was later reclassified as an asteroid as it lacked a coma.

Prof. Brian Greene Shows You How to Time Travel!

Prof. Brian Greene, author of “The Elegant Universe” will show you the right way to time travel as he joins Faith in a discussion of the underlying science of time travel and clears up some time travel myths like, is it ok to interact with your younger self while time traveling? (Turns out, it’s OKAY.)

Acclaimed physicist Brian Greene reveals a mind-boggling reality beneath the surface of our everyday world.

“The Fabric of the Cosmos,” a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe. With each step, audiences will discover that just beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world we’d hardly recognize—a startling world far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected.

Brian Greene is going to let you in on a secret: We’ve all been deceived. Our perceptions of time and space have led us astray. Much of what we thought we knew about our universe—that the past has already happened and the future is yet to be, that space is just an empty void, that our universe is the only universe that exists—just might be wrong.

Interweaving provocative theories, experiments, and stories with crystal-clear explanations and imaginative metaphors like those that defined the groundbreaking and highly acclaimed series “The Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Cosmos” aims to be the most compelling, visual, and comprehensive picture of modern physics ever seen on television.