The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary Series 24 Episode 32
*The discovery of Fast Radio bursts dating back ten billion years
Astronomers have detected three of the most distant Fast Radio Bursts ever observed.
*Have astronomers discovered hypothetical Boson Stars
A team of scientists claim that the heaviest black hole collision ever observed may have been something even more mysterious: the merger of two so-called boson stars.
*NASA’s new Moon rocket passes a major milestone
NASA has just completed a successful test firing of the core stage of its new SLS Moon rocket. The 8 minutes and 19-second hot fire main engine burn in the B-2 test stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is a critical milestone ahead of the Artemis I mission slated for November.
*The Science Report
Why some otherwise healthy people develop life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms.
Neanderthals might have died out in Europe far earlier than thought.
Using facial recognition to pay your bills.
Geologists identify a new mineral.
Alex on Tech: The TGA approves new medical apps for smartwatches.
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[00:00:00] This is SpaceTime series 24, episode 32 for broadcast and the 24th of March, 2021. Coming up on space time. The discovery of fast radio bursts dating back 10 billion years have astronomers discovered hypothetical bows on stars and NASA's new moon rocket passes a major milestone. Oh, that and more coming up on SpaceTime.
Welcome to SpaceTime with Stuart Gary
astronomers have detected three of the most distant, fast radio bursts ever observed. The three bursts reported in the astrophysical journal letters. Each have rigid greater than three. That means they're each more than 10 [00:01:00] billion years old, dating them back to a time when the universe itself was still in its youth, fast radio bursts, a sudden femoral flashes of extreme energy lasting, just a few thousandth of a second, but the amount of power released in that time is fantastic.
In fact, the average fast radio burst releases as much energy in a millisecond as the sun generates in three days. Most fast radio bursts are singular events, never occurring in the same place twice, but offline. There've been several circled repeaters that is fast radio bursts, which do reoccur at the same location.
Now a fast radio burst only ever occurring once at any location means they're likely to be caused by cataclysmic events, such as supernova. That fast radio bursts occurring at the same location more than once means one of two things either. There are two different sources which generate fast radio bursts, or they're caused by something other than a cataclysmic event.
While their [00:02:00] origins remain a mystery, there is a growing line of evidence linking them to a type of highly magnetized neutron star or the Magnetar. Because of the cosmological origins, these three newly discovered fast radio bursts have the detention to provide fresh insights into a range of astrophysical problems.
Scientists found the three fast radio burst events using China's 500 meter averages. Very cool. Radio telescope fast. The study's lead author, new Chanel. He says the newly discovered events combined with the first fast radio burst detected by the fast telescope last year suggested there could be as many as 120,000 of these events arriving on earth every day.
This spacetime still the com have astronomers discovered hypothetical bows on stars and NASA's new moon. Rocket passes, a major milestone, all that, and more coming up on space time.
[00:03:00] Okay, let's take a break from our show now for a word from our new sponsor, Nord pass the new era in password management. So I was reading a review of password management providers on Y the other day, and they mentioned nod pass saying it's a relatively new kid on the password management block, but it does come from a company with significant pedigree.
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And of course the URL details are in the show notes and on our website. And now it's back to space time. This is space time with Stuart, Gary. A team of scientists are claiming that the heaviest bike or collision ever observed, maybe something even more mysterious. The merger of [00:06:00] two so-called bows on stars, a report in the journal, physical review letters claims the event which produced the gravitational wave GW 1905 21 could be the first evidence for the existence of these hypothetical objects, which are one of the candidates for dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that makes up most of the mass of the universe.
Scientists have no idea what dark matter is that they know it exists because they can see its gravitational influence on galaxies since 2015, the two LIGO detectors in the United States and the Virgo detector in Italy have detected more than 50 gravitational wave signals, gravitational waves or ripples, and the very fabric of space time, the generated by some of the most valid events in the universe, such as the merging of super dense objects like neutron stars and black holes.
However, the promise of gravitational wave research goes much deeper than this. Maybe even providing evidence for previously unobserved and even [00:07:00] unexpected objects in the process. Shedding new light on mysteries, like dark matter, the GW 1905 21 gravitational wave signal, which was detected in September, 2020, once consistent with the collision of two, still a mass black holes of roughly 85 and 66 times the mass of our sun.
The merger resulted in the production of a new black hole of some 142 solar masses. And that's significant because it's the first of a new previously unobserved category of intermediate size black holes. So the discovery is of paramount importance because intermediate size black holes are a missing link between the other two well-known types of black hole families.
There is still a mess, black holes, which formed from the collapse of stars and super massive black holes, which resided the centers of most, if not all galaxies, but one of the challenges presented by this particular gravitational wave event was justifying how the heaviest of the two colliding black holes as the [00:08:00] one with Eddy five solar masses could have formed out of the collapse of a star at the end of its life.
See, even the biggest stars should have shut it off much of their mass. By the time they collapsed the supernova and 85 solar masses really stretches those calculations. So instead the author suggests an alternative explanation. One involving the collision of two exotic hypothetical objects called bows on stars.
Bears on stars are one of the many candidates to try and explain dark matter. Unlike the electrons, neutrinos and quacks, which make up particles of matter Bose zones or particles of force, which therefore have masses billions of times, less than electrons. In fact, some Bose ons such as photons have no mess at all the authors compared the GW 1905 21 signal to computer simulations of birds on star mergers.
Finding that bows on stars would explain the data slightly better than the analysis conducted by LIGO and Virgo. Okay. If they're right and [00:09:00] that's a big, if at this stage, then you findings suggest that because bows on star mergers will be much weaker. The event, the collision would have been much closer and it would've involved a much larger mess for the final black hole, something around 250 solar masses.
If they exist, burst on stars will be almost as compact as black holes, but unlike black holes, they don't have an event horizon point of no return. It's an intriguing idea. The find out more. Andrew Dunkley is speaking with astronomer professor, Fred Watson. We are going to now look at this, uh, this research, this, this, um, rather strange, uh, issue surrounding.
Large gravitational wave detection, uh, because, uh, there's a possibility according to this latest data that, uh, these gravitational waves waves are telling us fibs, they're not actually indicating what we thought they were indicating or not all of them, or maybe none of them who knows. What's going on. So [00:10:00] it's not all of them.
I mean, um, most, I think most gravitational wave detections of things like colliding black holes and colliding neutron stars. I think they're secure. I think they're, they're so well modeled, um, that they fit the bill. Exactly. And they fit all our understanding of what black holes. Might be like, and what constitutes a black hole?
I think generally speaking, gravitational wave astronomy is in good shape and we're discovering things fairly regularly. However, one in particular has raised some questions. And it's all about the mass of the objects that we think are involved. So this is a gravitational wave signal that occurred on the 21st of May, 2019.
And it comes from a distance of 7 billion light years. It's, you know, this is really in the depths of the universe that's so we're looking back more than half the age of the universe when you look back 7 billion, light years. And so it was a massive collision and the detectors. Gave a very strong signal.
You'll remember [00:11:00] that. What happens when black holes collide is that they, they approach each other. They're basically an Orbis around one another, and that orbit spirals inwards as they eventually coalesce. And it's the spiraling inwards that gives you this characteristic chirp in the, in the gravitational wave signal with a, I've got to do it.
That's the way it goes and where you get to the hand. That's when the two have coalesced and essentially they're formed a black hole, which no longer gives a gravitational wave signal because it's not being accelerated. That's the whole point. So this event in 2019, the calculation, the analysis of that signal, let the astronomers determine what size of objects we're talking about here.
And it was two black holes, one at 66. Solar masses and one 85 solar nurses, 85 times the mass of the sun. And. The reason why this is now in the, in the news is that there's been a re-analysis and [00:12:00] more of a different interpretation of what these black holes might've been. And it said an international team of very notable astrophysicists.
So the suggestion is that these were not actually black holes, but theoretical objects, which are called Bozon stars. Um, and now both zones are. The subatomic particles that carry force like the Higgs boson. That's the, the thing that gives us the mass, the photons are actually both zones. The subatomic particles that are transmitting you and me around the universe at the moment by, you know, electromagnetism.
So I have not come across bows on stars before I have to say, and this interested me greatly because it could be a new form of matter. But the astrophysicists involved believe that some of the, uh, if you do have bows on stars, what they could be made of will be something that is the same stuff as dark matter, whatever it is, that's invisible in the universe.
That's holding galaxies together and all the galaxy clusters took the [00:13:00] words right out of my mouth. There I, I was, I was going to walk that path. I was going to bring up the dark matter question. Well, if I didn't, somebody in the audience would have, if that's the case, it could answer a lot of questions.
Could it not? Yes. If it exists, I suspect it's going to raise more questions than it answers though, but you're right. So what comes out of this is a black hole with a massive 142 times the son's son's mass, and that's getting them for what we call an intermediate mass black hole, which is where there's a gap.
Does that, is there sort of a gap in the black hole range between the stellar mass ones and the supermassive ones? And there's not much in between there have been a few candidates, but it's not much. And so 142 times the mass of the sun is getting on that way. But the reason why this work has cast doubt on whether it's black holes or not, is that a black hole of 85 solar masses shouldn't exist because if you're assuming that the two candidate black holes are two that collided, if.
As we believe most [00:14:00] of these small black holes do. If they come from the detonation of a single star at the end of its life, a supernova explosion, there is a limit on how big a supernova explosion you can have that will form a black hole. And if you've got one over about 65, So the masses, a single star of that actually much higher mass to start with.
Cause it's blown away, a lot of this out material, but something over 65 solar masses, it can't collapse through a black hole. And it's because I'm not a supernova expert, but I've heard of these things. They are called pear instability, supernovae. A star in that mass range, over 65, solar masses produces a spare pair, instability supernova.
And what it does is completely obliterates center of the star, the core of the star, which is what in a normal. Supernova explosion. That's what collapses to the black hole is the core of the star, but [00:15:00] apparently an apparent stability supernova. The whole thing has blasted to pieces. So you don't get anything left behind.
And so you shouldn't be able to find black holes more than 65 solar masses. And here is one that is being postulated as an 85 solar mass black hole. Now it is possible that that black hole. Got to its size by merging with another one. So it might've been two stellar masses, black hot stellar, mass, black holes that merged and formed one of 85 solid masses.
But the other thing is that, and it comes from Spanish research has actually one Calderon Bustillo Bush deal of the glacier and Institute of high energy physics. In Spain. They've looked at this possibility of these bows on stars and they. Say that it would match the numbers on of the other astronomers Jose font.
I love this university of Valencia Valencia in Spain. He says our results show that the two scenarios are almost indistinguishable given the data, although the [00:16:00] exotic. Bose on OnStar hypothesis is slightly preferred. What he means by the two scenarios is the pair of black holes or the pair of Bose on stars.
And they, the theoretical look at these bows on stars actually is slightly preserved. He goes on to say, this is very exciting since our bows on star model is as of now, Very limited and subject to major improvements. In other words, they don't really know what they're dealing with here. A more evolved model that means with all more fancy bells and whistles on the theoretical model and more evolved model may lead to even larger evidence for this scenario would also allow us to study previous gravitational wave observations under the Bose OnStar assumption.
Fascinating. And I come across a description of what a Bose on star might look like. And they basically are suggesting, they'll look a lot like a black hole except for one thing. And that is that they don't have an absorbing surface, uh, that would stop photons or an event horizon. So they would actually appear [00:17:00] totally transparent.
Yeah. Which is yeah. It's mind boggling and, um, yeah, they go on to say they basically, they're basically compact blobs of Bose-Einstein condensate. Yes. So that's the, yes. Which is really interesting. And that kind of makes a bit more sense of it because if it was Alan styling, condenser is basically matter.
That is sort of compressed to a level. Where it behaves like a single quantum object and, you know, quantum objects are weird and we usually think of them as being tiny microscopic scale objects, but here's a star that might be a single quantum object, which raises all kinds of possibilities because quantum objects can be in two places at the same time, or maybe these Bose-Einstein Stein.
Condensates could be as well. It's great stuff. There's there's now the answer to long haul space traveling. No time. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Find yourself a friendly Bose on star and hook yourself to it. And that's Dr. Fred Watson and astronomer with the department of science speaking with Andrew [00:18:00] Dunkley on our sister program space nuts.
And this is space time still, the calm nest neces new moon rocket passes a major milestone and later in the science report, why some otherwise healthy people develop life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms or that are more still to come on. Space time.
has just completed a successful test firing of the core stage of its new SLS moon, rocket. The eight minute, 19 second hot fire main engine burn in the B2 test. Stand at the Stennis space center in Mississippi is a crucial milestone ahead of the items. One mission slated for November Artemis. One will carry an unmanned Orion spacecraft on a test flight to the moon and back in preparation for future man lunar [00:19:00] missions.
The test involved igniting all four Aerojet Rocketdyne RS, 25 main engines and maintaining the complete flight profile from liftoff to managing cutout
go Bridget star. Each boys are on an engine starts. It's been okay.
And all personnel, we've got engine to start to monitor monetary system and craft and thinking from
hold on. [00:20:00] All right. Can you verify 16 safe engine shut down, please. And your inputs shut down. Standby. And I said, we'll use this test data to help validate the SLS core stage design for flight. The SLS short for space launch system is the biggest, the most powerful rocket ever built surpassing. Even the mighty sat and five Apollo moon rocket, it will be used to launch nest new Origen spacecraft, which is being developed at transport cruise beyond earth orbit to the moon, and eventually onto Mars, the hot fire test.
So the former space shuttle main engines, which are used to power. The first stage of the SOS generate more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds. The program included. Gimbling the engines that is moving them as specific patterns to direct thrust, pairing the engines up to 109% of their rated power, as well as throttling down and back up again, just as they will do during the [00:21:00] actual ascent to orbit.
The first attempt to test these engines back in January, this year resulted in an early shutdown, just 67 seconds after ignition, that was put down to overly conservative test commit criteria on the thrust vector control system, a specification specific any for ground testing, not for flight. In fact, had that scenario occur during flight.
The rocket would have continued to fly normally. Okay. So the crucial hot fire engine tests out of the way, what comes next? Well, the SLS core stage will have its engines attached to it, and it will then be shipped to NASA giant vehicle assembly building and the Kennedy space center in Florida. Once there, it will be mounted vertically on its mobile launcher, the upper stage, as well as the Orion spacecraft and the massive strap on solid rocket boosters.
Another legacy from the space shuttle will all be attached in preparation for the items, one flight. This is space time
[00:22:00] and Tom Matta. Take another brief. Look at some of the other stories making use in science this week with a science report, two new studies have identified why some otherwise healthy people go on to develop life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms. The studies report in the journal. Science showed that these severe symptoms can develop in people lacking type one, interferon, a set of 17 proteins, crucial for protecting cells and the body from viruses.
One study found that one in 10 people with life threatening COVID-19 pneumonia, mostly males produce antibodies, which target neutralize their own type one interferon that may explain why some men are more likely to develop a severe form of the disease. The second study found a group of people who carry a specific genetic mutation, which stops their own immune systems from producing type one interference in response to SARS cov two, in both cases, the lack of type one interferon appears to be a common [00:23:00] theme among a group of COVID-19 suffers, who severe version of the disease has thus far been a mystery.
Over 2.7 million people have now died from the COVID-19 virus with another 121 million having been infected since the virus first emerged from Warhammer, China and spread around the world. The end of all, fossils covered in a cave in Belgian and believed to belong to the last survivors of their species in Europe, maybe thousands of years older than previously thought.
Earlier radiocarbon dating of the remains. You're at an age of around 24,000 years, suggesting that was when the, those died out in Europe. However, new testing reported in the journal of the proceedings of the national Academy of sciences has pushed back that date to between forty four thousand two hundred and forty thousand six hundred years ago.
The new robust method still relies on carbon 14. Dating sit at the gold standard for archeological dating. But it refines the way the specimens are [00:24:00] collected to better exclude possible. Emanation. Facial records nation has been rapidly taking over Moscow since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with authorities using it to enforce lockdowns and the general public using it for contactless payments.
The biometric technology is now expanding right across Russia with the nation's leading food retailer. Now rolling out the facial recognition payment system to 3000 of its stores. The company says its surveys show that 70% of Russians support the so-called face paced system. And even the Moscow Metro is getting on board.
You can now buy your train ticket simply through facial recognition. However, the push is alarming, human rights, activists who warn of creeping state surveillance by the Kremlin with authorities. Then who abuse the system to illegally identify peaceful protesters who were later arrested. The Russian push for facial recognition falls, its widespread adoption for public surveillance across China as part of its dystopian [00:25:00] social credit score system, which is used to reward and punish citizens depending on their correct behavior in the eyes of the communist party.
The social credit score system determines what sort of accommodation people have, what sort of schools their kids can attend. What sort of health care is available to them, even what sort of transport they're allowed to use. And when they're allowed to travel and facial recognition is a key part of that system geologists have identified a new mineral called Canada-wide.
It was discovered and an old specimen and collected at a single location in Cornwall in the 17 hundreds. Curnow is the Cornish word for Cornwall. The specimen became part of the London natural history museums collection in 1964, but it's only now been identified as new to science. Colonel white is a secondary mineral form when other rocks close to the surface, have their chemical elements mobilized by circulating water.
The elements now present within the fluid recombined to create a new mineral from different elements of previously crystallized [00:26:00] rock and new mineral is determined by its chemical composition and the positions of the atoms within a 3d crystal structure. A report in the mineralogical magazine describes Colonel white is unique because one part of its internal structure is dominated by iron.
And instead of aluminum, the therapy goods administration approves the new medical app for smart watches. The worldwide web turns 32 and Telstra hits 3000 5g sites. With the details on these and other news from the world of technology, we're joined by Alex Howard, Roy from it wired.com. The Apple watch in the U S in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, other places has had the ability to do the ECG function of the Apple watch four, five, and six, and also to check for atrial fibrillation.
And this feature has been unavailable in Australia, but the TGA, the therapeutic goods administration has finally. Even also as I should for Apple to launch these speeches in Australia. So I, in the next watch iOS update or in the one after that, probably in the next couple of months, [00:27:00] this feature will now be available for Australians.
And it just saves people's lives. I would say, received the notification when they watch that they have an irregular heartbeat detected, then text it to your doctor and show them. And then 32 years, since the worldwide web, as we know it came about now that's different from the internet. Isn't it? Yeah, the internet shattered off in the sixties to do with the military so that they could launch missiles, shoot part of the network, go down.
And then in the seventies, universities got hold of it and started sending the first emails to each other. So we've had the internet itself for a long time, but it wasn't until 1989. So Tim Berners Lee come up with a concept at sun, which was for a hypertext information system and his boss at the time vague, but interesting.
And of course, you know, 32 years later, the worldwide web. All of the services that should on top of that. And that we take for granted today and now available and, you know, an open letter to the world. I said, Tim Berners Lee was talking about how we need to make sure that enough of the world's people have access to the event that it remains freeze.
There are inexpensive devices that [00:28:00] people can use, and he was also showcasing many of the different. Cool projects that people have created on top of the internet. And if you go to the web foundation.org, you can read that open letter and see some of the projects and some of the young leaders that he was speaking about.
Of course, one of the things which has spurred on use of the worldwide web has been improved communication, such as five G and Telstra Australia's largest telecommunications company now has over 3005. That's right? Yeah. There's a testing company called , which drives cars across Australia. And I think in other parts of the world and they have come out.
To Telstra has scored top marks for their 5g coverage. That is 3000 sites that have now been switched on their closest competitor to Apttus has a thousand sites and Vodafone only has a few hundred, so we're, we're getting to more and more 5g. Across Australia and the world 5g has now really started to blossom around the world.
So many countries now have it. The pressure 5g funds is falling lower and lower. The lowest price would be about [00:29:00] 200 bucks us for entry level five J funds. And it won't be long before every phone that comes onto the market will be 5g. And bye. June July the year, Telstra will have 75% of the country covered with climate change.
So we're seeing these sorts of roll-outs in other parts of the world, in the U S T-Mobile and Verizon, and rapidly rolling out 5g. So 5g really is improving the way that people can access the internet and even faster versions of 5g coming up. In Australia was able to do carrier aggregation, where they could merge two different bands of 5g together to get even faster.
5g. I do the same sort of thing with 4g. So we're seeing lots and lots of improvement in this area. And of course we spoke recently about how six G is new in 2030. So the internet. The worldwide web communication devices, they are just getting better with no inventory, I think which does have an end in sight as being Apple's home pod.
The, the big home part it's being discontinued. Once the HomePod minis came out, the probably saw the more [00:30:00] expensive home post-sales drop. So they've kept the gun as long as I could. It's been four years since we've had the original home pod. And, uh, you know, one thing that Apple doesn't have is devices.
Uh, like the Amazon echo or the Google nest hub with a screen. I mean, Apple will get you to use your iPhone or iPad as the screen, and then use the home pod speakers. So w we might end up saying some sort of home pod with a screen in the future, but at the moment I've never been shaped with the home pod mini they've been selling extremely well.
And, um, Yeah, Apple discontinues products. And this one has been discontinued. Is it true? You can get the home pods arguing with each other. I have seen some years ago, there was people who had sort of tried to engineer conversations between one smart assistant and another sort of ask one question. You asked one assistant, which sort of asks another assistant.
And I guess it's like a game of audio ping pong, but I mean, they weren't designed to talk to each other as such, at least not yet, but for now it's just a bit of fun. They're not really meant to talk. And sometimes when you talk to one device, [00:31:00] you call it by the wrong name. Oh, that's somebody else. You know, it helps the time when we will have those devices.
Hopefully talking to each other, getting commands from other devices. Now you'll, you'll tell one device to tell you other devices to do things Alex it's called Skynet. Well, yes, that is also. A worry. Um, and I always say that science-fiction movies, especially dystopian ones are warnings to humanity to not let this happen.
But the question is, will we heed those warnings and will that sort of thing happen? We don't know, but hopefully not judging by history. We want hate the warnings. 1984 was never meant to be an instruction manual. Correct. No, w we have to be glad that we live today before any such well mad max was set in 2021.
Yes. And, uh, that's, Alixandra roid from it, wired.com.
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