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Archive for August, 2006

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Dark matter existence

Dark Matter Proof

team of researchers has found the first direct proof for the existence of dark matter, the mysterious and almost invisible substance thought to make up almost a quarter of the universe. Dark matter does not absorb or emit light. So far, astronomers have inferred its presence only indirectly by measuring the effects of its gravity. But now, by observing a massive collision between two large clusters of galaxies, astronomers have detected what they say could only be the signature of dark matter. The scientists used optical and x-ray telescopes to measure the location of mass in the collided formation, known as the “bullet cluster” because of its shape. More than 90 percent of the visible mass in a galaxy cluster is hot gas. The rest is stars located within individual galaxies. The composite image at left shows that this hot gas (red) was dragged away from the stars and galaxies (blue) during the collision. But most of the mass—and thus matter—is located within the galaxies, or the blue areas, scientists say. In other words, the bulk of visible matter in the clusters has been separated from the majority of mass—which therefore must be dark matter. “This proves in a simple and direct way that dark matter exists,” Maxim Markevitch of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in a telephone briefing Monday with reporters. Scientists calculate that dark matter makes up about 25 percent of the universe. By contrast, ordinary matter—the stuff that makes up stars, planets, and everything on Earth—makes up no more than about 5 percent of the universe. The other 70 percent of the universe, scientists believe, is made of dark energy, an even more elusive force that is pushing the universe apart at an ever increasing rate.

(Source : Nasa)

Stephen Hawking

Copley Medal

< ?php echo ImageHeadline_render('P','shadow_spread=4&shadow_vertical_offset=2&shadow_horizontal_offset=2&background_color=#E6EADB&font_color=#009900&font_size=46&background_image=/data/members/paid/m/a/mazalien.nl/htdocs/www/weblog/wp-content/themes/connections/img/content_bg.png'); ?>rofessor Stephen Hawking is to receive the world’s oldest award for scientific achievement – the Royal Society’s prestigious Copley medal – for his outstanding contribution to theoretical physics and theoretical cosmology it was announced today (24 August 2006). In recognition of Stephen Hawking’s work in cosmology, British born astronaut Piers Sellers carried the medal, due to be presented to Hawking later this year, with him on the recent Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. First awarded by the Royal Society in 1731, the Copley medal pre-dates the Nobel Prize by 170 years. It is awarded for outstanding achievements in scientific research and during its 275 year history, has been awarded to such scientific luminaries as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein and Louis Pasteur.

Professor Stephen hawking

< ?php echo ImageHeadline_render('P','shadow_spread=4&shadow_vertical_offset=2&shadow_horizontal_offset=2&background_color=#E6EADB&font_color=#009900&font_size=46&background_image=/data/members/paid/m/a/mazalien.nl/htdocs/www/weblog/wp-content/themes/connections/img/content_bg.png'); ?>rofessor Hawking said: “This is a very distinguished medal. It was awarded to Darwin, Einstein and Crick. I am honoured to be in their company.” British astronaut, Piers Sellers said: “Stephen Hawking is a definitive hero to all of us involved in exploring the Cosmos. His contribution to science is unique and he serves as a continuous inspiration to every thinking person. It was an honour for the crew of the STS-121 mission to fly his medal into space. We think that this is particularly appropriate as Stephen has dedicated his life to thinking about the larger Universe.” The crew of STS-121 carried the Copley medal into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in July, 2006. The astronauts kept the medal with them in the Shuttle middeck throughout the mission, including the nine days they were docked with the International Space Station. Stephen Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. His work has been essential in understanding and classifying black holes. He has also made an exceptional contribution to the popularisation of his subject, authoring four popular-science books including “A Brief History of Time” and “The Universe in a Nutshell”. Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, said: “Stephen Hawking has contributed as much as anyone since Einstein to our understanding of gravity. This medal is a fitting recognition of an astonishing research career spanning more than 40 years. “I wish to express my gratitude to Piers Sellers and the crew of the STS-121 for taking the medal with them their mission and marking the 275th anniversary of this eminent scientific award.” The medal will be awarded to Professor Hawking on the 30 November at the Society’s annual Anniversary Day, commemorating the foundation of the Society in 1660.

Source : Professor Stephen Hawking’s website.

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Grigory Perelman

The Field medal

rigory Perelman, the Russian who seems to have solved one of the hardest problems in mathematics, the Poincaré conjecture, has declined one of the discipline’s top awards. Dr Perelman was to have been presented with the prestigious Fields Medal by King Juan Carlos of Spain, at a ceremony in Madrid on Tuesday. There had been considerable speculation that Grigory “Grisha” Perelman would decline the award. The Russian has been described as an “unconventional” and “reclusive” genius who spurns self-promotion. The Fields Medals are commonly regarded as mathematics’ closest analog to the Nobel Prize (which does not exist in mathematics), and are awarded every four years by the International Mathematical Union to one or more outstanding researchers. “Fields Medals” are more properly known by their official name, “International medals for outstanding discoveries in mathematics.”

Grigory Perelman

e is possibly the cleverest person on the planet: an enigmatic and reclusive genius who shocked the academic world with his claim to have solved one of the hardest problems in maths. He is tipped to win a “maths Nobel” for his work on possible shapes of the universe. But rumours are rife that the brilliant Russian mathematician will spurn the greatest accolade his peers can bestow. Since Grigory “Grisha” Perelman revealed his solution in 2002 to a century-old maths problem, it has been subjected to unparalleled scrutiny by the best academic minds. But no one has been able to find a mistake and there is a growing consensus that he has cracked the problem. Little is known about Dr Perelman, who refuses to talk to the media. He was born on June 13 1966 and his prodigious talent led to his early enrolment at a St Petersburg school specialising in advanced mathematics and physics. At the age of 16, he won a gold medal with a perfect score at the 1982 International Mathematical Olympiad, a competition for gifted schoolchildren. After receiving his PhD from the St Petersburg State University, he worked at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics before moving to the US in the late 80s to take posts at various universities. He returned to the Steklov about 10 years ago to work on his proof of the universe’s shape. The maths world was set humming in 2002 by the first instalment of his ground-breaking work on the problem which was set out by the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Jules Henri Poincaré in 1904. The conjecture, which is difficult for most non-mathematicians even to understand, exercised some of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

t concerns the geometry of multidimensional spaces and is key to the field of topology. Dr Perelman claims to have solved a more general version of the problem called Thurston’s geometrisation conjecture, of which the Poincaré conjecture is a special case. “It’s a central problem both in maths and physics because it seeks to understand what the shape of the universe can be,” said Marcus Du Sautoy at Oxford University, who will be giving this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. “It is very tricky to pin down. A lot of people have announced false proofs of this thing.” The obsession with the problem, shared by several great mathematicians, has been dubbed Poincaritis. But Dr Perelman seems to have succeeded where so many failed. “I think for many months or even years now people have been saying they were convinced by the argument,” said Nigel Hitchin, professor of mathematics at Oxford University. “I think it’s a done deal.”

Poincaré

n mathematics, the Poincaré conjecture is a conjecture about the characterization of the three-dimensional sphere amongst three-dimensional manifolds. Loosely speaking, the conjecture surmises that if a closed three-dimensional manifold is sufficiently like a sphere in that each loop in the manifold can be tightened to a point, then it is really just a three-dimensional sphere. The analogous result has been known to be true in higher dimensions for some time. The Poincaré conjecture is widely considered one of the most important questions in topology. It is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems for which the Clay Mathematics Institute is offering a $1,000,000 prize for a correct solution. After nearly a century of effort by mathematicians all over the world, a series of papers made available in 2002 and 2003 by Grigori Perelman, following the program of Richard Hamilton, produced an outline for a solution. Following Perelman’s work, several groups of mathematicians have produced works filling in the details for the full proof, though review by the mathematics community is ongoing.

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