Dark matter killed the dinosaurs, says a noted cosmologist
Harvard's theoretical physicist Lisa Randall links the extinction of the dinosaurs to the mysterious "dark matter".
What killed the dinosaurs is a classic science mystery whose prevailing current solution is that a giant asteroid crashed in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico about 66 million years ago. It caused all manner of calamities, from tsunamis and volcanic eruptions to blocking out the sky with debris for a few years, bringing about a cold darkness on Earth that proved to be the demise of the dinosaurs.
Physicist Lisa Randall, who teaches at Harvard University, doesn’t necessarily dispute this turn of events. But she thinks the celestial object that did the dinosaurs in was possibly sent on its way by dark matter - an enigmatic and theoretical material that scientists theorize makes up about 27% of the known universe. Randall’s book “Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe” lays out her case.
What Randall proposes is that a part of dark matter (perhaps 5%) can experience a force similar to electromagnetism, which she calls “dark light”. By interacting with dark light, this portion of dark matter could have formed an invisible disk that overlapped with the visible disk of spiral arms in the Milky Way galaxy. And what’s more - this dark disk , which is thin and extremely dense, interfered with the orbit of a comet on the outer reaches of our solar system, in an area known as the Oort Cloud. This resulted in the comet ultimately colliding with Earth, bringing to extinction to its dinosaurs.
Other scientists have generally reacted to this hypothesis with curiosity, especially considering Randall’s track record in the field, saying the idea may be credible but lacks supporting evidence. Randall thinks that we could eventually locate such a disk and that the catapulting of the comets happens with some regularity so we might be in for it once again at some point.
You can read Lisa Randall and Matthew Reece’s study on the subject of dark matter triggering comet impacts here, in Physical Review Letters.
For more, check out Lisa Randall’s talk upon the release of her book on dark matter and dinosaurs:
PER NASA: The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), at center, is the second-largest satellite galaxy orbiting our own. This image superimposes a photograph of the SMC with one half of a model of its dark matter (right of center). Lighter colors indicate greater density and show a strong concentration toward the galaxy's center. Ninety-five percent of the dark matter is contained within a circle tracing the outer edge of the model shown. In six years of data, Fermi finds no indication of gamma rays from the SMC's dark matter. Credits: Dark matter, R. Caputo et al. 2016; background, Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan University
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Technology may soon grant us immortality, in a sense. Here's how.
- Through the Connectome Project we may soon be able to map the pathways of the entire human brain, including memories, and create computer programs that evoke the person the digitization is stemmed from.
- We age because errors build up in our cells — mitochondria to be exact.
- With CRISPR technology we may soon be able to edit out errors that build up as we age, and extend the human lifespan.
The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.
- U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
- A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
- Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.
- Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
- The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
- The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.
Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.
The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.
Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."
How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.
Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.
What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.
For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.
Check out how Nuro's vehicles work:
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