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3 min read

We May Have Accidentally Formed A Protective Bubble Around Earth

Stray radio waves may push part of the Van Allen radiation belts away from Earth, which is good news for our satellites; the high-energy particles trapped in the belts can destroy a spacecraft's electrical equipment. JHUAPL/LASP When the Navy wants to send a message to an underwater submarine, it sometimes uses very low frequency (VLF) radio waves. These long wavelengths, beamed from large towers on the ground, are unique in their ability to travel through salty water. But some end up in space instead. There, according to a new report, they may be forming a protective bubble around Earth’s atm
7 min read

The Multiverse As Muse: The uncertainty of quantum mechanics provided a perfect literary model for Modernist ideas.

In his short story “The Garden of Forking Paths,” the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges describes a present that can, at any moment, bifurcate into different futures—an endless labyrinth of worlds. Taken together they form, he writes, “an infinite series of times, a growing, dizzying web of divergent, convergent, and parallel times. That fabric of times that approach one another, fork, are snipped off, or are simply unknown for centuries, contains all possibilities. In most of those times, we do not exist; in some, you exist, but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in others still, we
8 min read

Does Dark Matter Harbor Life?: An invisible civilization could be living right under your nose.

Even though we know that ordinary matter accounts for only about one-twentieth of the universe’s energy and a sixth of the total energy carried by matter (with dark energy constituting the remaining portion), we nonetheless consider ordinary matter to be the truly important constituent. With the exception of cosmologists, almost everyone’s attention is focused on the ordinary matter component, which you might have thought to be largely insignificant according to the energy accounting. We of course care more about ordinary matter because we are made of the stuff—as is the tangible world in whic