Yes, science is a noun and not a verb but it’s human nature to advance using words in other manners. This use came out out of a beer conversation:
Friend: “What have you been up to?”
Me: “Sciencing and writing, mostly. Socializing.”
“How’d that work out for you?”
Yes, besides writing and reading, I’ve been sciencing on the side: sciencing (verb) – to peruse and read about scientific discoveries.
I doubt it will catch on. Purists are probably already praying to grammar gods and making sacrifices to ensure it doesn’t.
First up was Ethan Siegel’s post about a super-Earth possibly missing from our solar system. He is writing from a paper being published. The authors posit that our solar system isn’t the norm and that giant rocky planets are being discovered, contrary to expectations.
A missing planet? What evil non-scientific forces might be behind this scientific discovery?
From the article:
Having small, rocky worlds in the inner solar system and large, gas giants in the outer solar system isn’t the norm, as we might have expected. Gas giants and rocky planets, it turned out, could be found anywhere, with large worlds just as likely as small ones to be close to their parent stars. The planets that we were finding showed that there’s nothing forbidding gas giants from becoming “hot Jupiters,” and in fact they turned out to be quite common. But the second surprise was even more puzzling, and came thanks to the pioneering work of NASA’s Kepler space observatory. While rocky, Earth-sized worlds — and slightly larger and slightly smaller rocky worlds — were common, as were Neptune-and-Jupiter sized worlds, there was a third class of planet that was the most common of all. In between the size of Earth and Neptune lied a possibility we had overlooked: a super-Earth (or mini-Neptune) world. As it turned out, there were more super-Earths than any other type.
Other exciting and intriguing information came out of Popular Mechanics through a Jay Bennett article about “Virtual Particles” hopping in and out of existence and neutron star.
About 400 light-years from here, in the area surrounding a neutron star, the electromagnetic field of this unbelievably dense object appears to be creating an area where matter spontaneously appears and then vanishes.
Quantum electrodynamics (QED) describes the relationships between particles of light, or photons, and electrically charged particles such as electrons and protons. The theories of QED suggest that the universe is full of “virtual particles,” which are not really particles at all. They are fluctuations in quantum fields that have most of the same properties as particles, except they appear and vanish all the time. Scientists predicted the existence of virtual particles some 80 years ago, but we have never had experimental evidence of this process until now.
New reports are always exploding out of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, and resulted in an article I read in Wired about Feynman diagrams 0n strange numbers emerging from the tests. As an old science fiction reader and a Doctor Who fan, anytime we start talking about physics and strange numbers, I start wagging my tail.
Feynman diagrams were devised by Richard Feynman in the 1940s. They feature lines representing elementary particles that converge at a vertex (which represents a collision) and then diverge from there to represent the pieces that emerge from the crash. Those lines either shoot off alone or converge again. The chain of collisions can be as long as a physicist dares to consider.
To that schematic physicists then add numbers, for the mass, momentum and direction of the particles involved. Then they begin a laborious accounting procedure—integrate these, add that, square this. The final result is a single number, called a Feynman probability, which quantifies the chance that the particle collision will play out as sketched.
Joseph Dussalt and the Christian Science Monitor published an article asking if Einstein could have been wrong about the speed of light being a constant. Their article actually covers scientific efforts being made to prove Einstein incorrect, why, and under what circumstances.
In his theory of special relativity, Einstein left a lot of wiggle room for the bending of space and time. But his calculations, and most subsequent breakthroughs in modern physics, rely on the notion that the speed of light has always been a constant 186,000 miles per second.
But what if it wasn’t always that way? In a paper published in the November issue of the journal Physical Review D, physicists from the Imperial College London and Canada’s Perimeter Institute argue that the speed of light could have been much faster in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang. The theory, which could change the very foundation of modern physics, is expected to be tested empirically for the first time.
There’s a lot to read, discuss and digest out there beyond the US Presidential election, new literature, Brexit, demonstrations and protestors, holidays, sports, wars and cats.
Now get out there and science.