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Showing content with the highest reputation on 03/24/2014 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    First of all I have to say that I'm surprised that nobody here has blogged about this yet. But in case you haven't heard yet, March 17th was a big day for science, and physics in particular. Researchers from Harvard University and the Smithsonian released evidence of distortion in the cosmic background radiation (shown to the right) caused by gravitational waves from when the universe went through inflation after the big bang. The idea is that in the 1x10-35th of a second after the big bang the universe expanded very rapidly at a speed much larger than the speed of light (and yes, that is possible since its the universe itself was moving). So what exactly does this mean? First of all, it is direct evidence that the big bang happened. There still may be a little uncertainty but the team that found this distortion has been looking at it for three years ruling out every other possibility so chances are it's exactly what they say it is. It also may have profound effects on our understanding of physics. Gravity waves were the last untested part of Einstein's theory of general relativity and with this evidence its now a complete theory. There is also a chance that it may lead to a unified theory of modern physics. As of now general relativity (the physics of very large things) and quantum mechanics (physics of very small things) don't work together but this discovery could help bridge the gap between the two. Also, most of the current theories of inflation include the existence of multiple universes and this evidence narrows down the theories a lot to the ones that include a multi-verse. The possibilities with this are endless because there is a chance that other universes will have laws of physics different than our own, which would be crazy but awesome to study. Scientific breakthroughs of this magnitude don't happen often but when they do they usually lead to a vastly improved understanding of the mechanisms of the universe.
  2. 1 point
    For the most part, humans have good sight. A lot of time and effort during our modern era is put into making TV and computer screens at a higher and higher resolution in order to make things look as "real" as possible - that is, to make the pixels onscreen indistinguishable from what we would normally see. But how good are our eyes really? Lets find out. Before all of this, I'll direct you to a nice, short, but informative link (https://xkcd.com/1080/), courtesy of xkcd. A good representation of how we see, it outlines the many different parts of vision very nicely. Focusing primarily, however, on the "resolution" of our field of vision, that is, how many "pixels" we can see, we can see it varies. Right in the center few degrees, in the foveal region, we can see stuff quite clearly, which makes sense, because we're looking at it. However, the blurred characteristic of the surrounding areas isn't just because we aren't focused on it, but because there simply isn't as much data provided there - much less, in fact. While our center of vision is comparable to a high-res camera, the surrounding areas are much worse quality, with the entire area outside of the center ~10 degrees containing a fraction of the data that the center area does. Our brain just fills in the gaps. So while at times our vision is quite good, other parts could use some work. And even with the high detail of our foveal region, you still might not need that new HDTV. Based on how far away you're sitting, it might not even be noticeable, so don't waste your money.


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