Saturday, July 4, 2015

[tt] (MSU) We're not alone – but the universe may be less crowded than we think



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Published: July 1, 2015

We're not alone – but the universe may be less crowded than we think

Contact(s): Layne Cameron Media Communications office: (517) 353-8819
cell: (765) 748-4827 [23], Brian O'Shea
Physics and Astronomy office: (517) 884-5638 [24]

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might
be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University.

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to
look deep into the universe. The long view stirred theories of untold
thousands of distant, faint galaxies. The new research, appearing in
the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, however, offers
a theory that reduces the estimated number of the most distant galaxies
by 10 to 100 times.

"Our work suggests that there are far fewer faint galaxies than we once
previously thought," said Brian O'Shea, MSU associate professor of
physics and astronomy. "Earlier estimates placed the number of faint
galaxies in the early universe to be hundreds or thousands of times
larger than the few bright galaxies that we can actually see with the
Hubble Space Telescope. We now think that number could be closer to ten
times larger.

O'Shea and his team used the National Science Foundation's Blue Waters
supercomputer to run simulations to examine the formation of galaxies
in the early universe. The team simulated thousands of galaxies at a
time, including the galaxies' interactions through gravity or

The simulated galaxies were consistent with observed distant galaxies
at the bright end of the distribution – in other words, those that have
been discovered and confirmed. The simulations didn't, however, reveal
an exponentially growing number of faint galaxies, as has been
previously predicted. The number of those at the lower end of the
brightness distribution was flat rather than increasing sharply, O'Shea

These simulations will be tested further when the much-anticipated
James Webb Space Telescope comes online in late 2018. The improved
technology will afford astronomers even more-detailed views of space
than the amazing images that the Hubble has produced in recent years.

The Hubble Space Telescope can see the tip of the iceberg of the
most-distant galaxies, said Michael Norman, co-author of the paper and
director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of
California, San Diego.

While the James Webb telescope will improve views of distant galaxies,
the telescope has a relatively small field of view. As a result, the
observations must take into account cosmic variance – the statistical
variation in the number of galaxies from place to place.

That's what makes these simulations pertinent even as improved
technology becomes available, O'Shea said.

"A deeper understanding based on theory may be necessary to correctly
interpret what's being seen, such as high redshift survey results," he

In addition to O'Shea and Norman, the research team also included John
Wise, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology,
and Hao Xu, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of
California, San Diego.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.
[25]Click to enlarge

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might
be expected, according to a new study led by MSU. Photo courtesy of

There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might
be expected, according to a new study led by MSU. Photo courtesy of

(... links deleted ...)
* © Michigan State University


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[tt] (VanderbiltU 2015-06) New model of cosmic stickiness favors “Big Rip” demise of universe



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New model of cosmic stickiness favors "Big Rip" demise of universe

by [10]David Salisbury | Jun. 30, 2015, 2:12 PM | Want more research
news? [11]Subscribe to our weekly newsletter »

[14]lots of stars on a black background

Hubble-Spitzer mosaic of the galactic center (NASA, ESA)

The universe can be a very sticky place, but just how sticky is a
matter of debate.

That is because for decades cosmologists have had trouble reconciling
the classic notion of viscosity based on the laws of thermodynamics
with Einstein's general theory of relativity. However, a team from
Vanderbilt University has come up with a fundamentally new mathematical
formulation of the problem that appears to bridge this long-standing

The new math has some significant implications for the ultimate fate of
the universe. It tends to favor one of the more radical scenarios that
cosmologists have come up with known as the "Big Rip." It may also shed
new light on the basic nature of dark energy.

Marcelo Disconzi (John Russell / Vanderbilt)

The new approach was developed by Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Marcelo Disconzi in collaboration with physics professors Thomas
Kephart and Robert Scherrer and is described in a [16]paper published
earlier this year in the journal [17]Physical Review D.

"Marcelo has come up with a simpler and more elegant formulation that
is mathematically sound and obeys all the applicable physical laws,"
said Scherrer.

The type of viscosity that has cosmological relevance is different from
the familiar "ketchup" form of viscosity, which is called shear
viscosity and is a measure of a fluid's resistance to flowing through
small openings like the neck of a ketchup bottle. Instead, cosmological
viscosity is a form of bulk viscosity, which is the measure of a
fluid's resistance to expansion or contraction. The reason we don't
often deal with bulk viscosity in everyday life is because most liquids
we encounter cannot be compressed or expanded very much.

Disconzi began by tackling the problem of relativistic fluids.
Astronomical objects that produce this phenomenon include supernovae
(exploding stars) and neutron stars (stars that have been crushed down
to the size of cities).

Thomas Kephart (Vanderbilt)

Scientists have had considerable success modeling what happens when
ideal fluids – those with no viscosity – are boosted to near-light
speeds. But almost all fluids are viscous in nature and, despite
decades of effort, no one has managed to come up with a generally
accepted way to handle viscous fluids traveling at relativistic
velocities. In the past, the models formulated to predict what happens
when these more realistic fluids are accelerated to a fraction of the
speed of light have been plagued with inconsistencies: the most glaring
of which has been predicting certain conditions where these fluids
could travel faster than the speed of light.

"This is disastrously wrong," said Disconzi, "since it is well-proven
experimentally that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light."

These problems inspired the mathematician to re-formulate the equations
of relativistic fluid dynamics in a way that does not exhibit the flaw
of allowing faster-than-light speeds. He based his approach on one that
was advanced in the 1950s by French mathematician André Lichnerowicz.

Next, Disconzi teamed up with Kephart and Scherrer to apply his
equations to broader cosmological theory. This produced a number of
interesting results, including some potential new insights into the
mysterious nature of dark energy.

In the 1990s, the physics community was shocked when astronomical
measurements showed that the universe is expanding at an
ever-accelerating rate. To explain this unpredicted acceleration, they
were forced to hypothesize the existence of an unknown form of
repulsive energy that is spread throughout the universe. Because they
knew so little about it, they labeled it "dark energy."

Robert Scherrer (John Russell / Vanderbilt)

Most dark energy theories to date have not taken cosmic viscosity into
account, despite the fact that it has a repulsive effect strikingly
similar to that of dark energy. "It is possible, but not very likely,
that viscosity could account for all the acceleration that has been
attributed to dark energy," said Disconzi. "It is more likely that a
significant fraction of the acceleration could be due to this more
prosaic cause. As a result, viscosity may act as an important
constraint on the properties of dark energy."

Another interesting result involves the ultimate fate of the universe.
Since the discovery of the universe's run-away expansion, cosmologists
have come up with a number of dramatic scenarios of what it could mean
for the future.

One scenario, dubbed the "Big Freeze," predicts that after 100 trillion
years or so the universe will have grown so vast that the supplies of
gas will become too thin for stars to form. As a result, existing stars
will gradually burn out, leaving only black holes which, in turn,
slowly evaporate away as space itself gets colder and colder.

An even more radical scenario is the "Big Rip." It is predicated on a
type of "phantom" dark energy that gets stronger over time. In this
case, the expansion rate of the universe becomes so great that in 22
billion years or so material objects begin to fall apart and individual
atoms disassemble themselves into unbound elementary particles and
[20]universe explosion timeline

Illustration of the Big Rip scenario (Jeremy Teaford / Vanderbilt)

The key value involved in this scenario is the ratio between dark
energy's pressure and density, what is called its equation of state
parameter. If this value drops below -1, then the universe will
eventually be pulled apart. Cosmologists have called this the "phantom
barrier." In previous models with viscosity the universe could not
evolve beyond this limit.

In the Desconzi-Kephart-Scherrer formulation, however, this barrier
does not exist. Instead, it provides a natural way for the equation of
state parameter to fall below -1.

"In previous models with viscosity the Big Rip was not possible," said
Scherrer. "In this new model, viscosity actually drives the universe
toward this extreme end state."

According to the scientists, the results of their pen-and-paper
analyses of this new formulation for relativistic viscosity are quite
promising but a much deeper analysis must be carried out to determine
its viability. The only way to do this is to use powerful computers to
analyze the complex equations numerically. In this fashion the
scientists can make predictions that can be compared with experiment
and observation.

The research was supported by National Science Foundation grant 1305705
and Department of Energy grant DE-SC0011981.

David Salisbury, (615) 322-NEWS

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[72]© 2015 Vanderbilt University · Nashville, Tennessee 37240 ·
(615) 322-7311
[73]Contact · Site Development: [74]University Web Communications


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[tt] Swarms of Officers

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of
officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

[tt] Forbes: Asia To Surpass North America As Wealthiest Region In 2016

Asia To Surpass North America As Wealthiest Region In 2016
by Laura Shin

I'm a freelance writer who has published in the New York Times, The
Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and others, and the
author of the Forbes ebook "The Millennial Game Plan: Career And
Money Secrets To Succeed In Today's World." I graduated Phi Beta
Kappa with Honors from Stanford University and have a master of arts
from Columbia University's School of Journalism. To learn more about
me, go to, or follow me at @laurashin.

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those
of the writer.
Personal Finance 6/16/2015

Fast growth in Asia and strong market performance drove much of the
wealth growth in 2014, when worldwide assets reached a record-high
$164.3 trillion, according to the 2015 Global Wealth Report by the
Boston Consulting Group Boston Consulting Group, Winning the Growth
Game. Wealth managers and advisory firms are also anticipating the
coming digital revolution in financial services, though a tangible
impact has yet to be felt.

In 2014, global wealth grew by 11.9%, just under the 12.3% growth
shown from 2012 to 2013, but different regions of the world
experienced markedly different rates of growth.

"You clearly also see a two-speed world again this year with some of
the economies--the new world regions--growing much, much faster
than other regions overall," said BCG partner Daniel Kessler, at a
press briefing in New York City Monday.

For instance, wealth in North America grew 5.6% to $50.8 trillion,
making it the wealthiest region, but Asia-Pacific, not including
Japan, grew at 29.4% to $47.3 trillion. (Japan grew 2.5% in 2014.)

In fact, Asia-Pacific is expected to surpass North America as the
wealthiest region in 2016, with China (at 25% growth) and India (at
44% growth) being the main catalysts. It is also expected to drive
half of the global wealth growth until 2019.

Don't let a rotten economy spoil your goals. Use the career and
money advice in The Millennial Game Plan to get and stay ahead for

"I may be biased, but when it comes to wealth, I truly believe Asia
is the place to be," said Federico Burgoni, a partner focusing on

The region continues to have the largest share of its investments,
at up to 45%, in cash and deposits. The savings rate in India was
19% of GDP and in China, 17.4%. The region saw a 6% savings rate

But in 2014, most of the growth in wealth worldwide--70%--came
from the strong performance in the market. Of the $17.5 trillion new
wealth generated, $13 trillion derived from the performance of
existing assets. The other 30% came from new wealth creation, which
stemmed largely from GDP growth and savings.

The new wealth creation globally was weighted more heavily toward
the new world, with developing economies accounting for two-thirds
of the new wealth creation, as opposed to only one-third in the
United States and Europe.

The number of new millionaire households worldwide, which increased
14%, also reflected the rising dominance of Asia. Of the 2.1 million
new millionaire households in 2014, 62% were in Asia-Pacific.
However, the U.S. remains the country with the highest number of
millionaires and ultra high-net worth households (6.9 million), with
almost double the number China has (3.6 million).

And 2014 was another year in which the wealthy gained an even
greater share of the pie, with millionaire households accounting now
for 42% of global wealth, up from 40% in 2013 and 38% in 2012.

North America was still seeing solid growth, particularly among
ultra high-net worth individuals.

"Even though it's decreasing in terms of percentage of AUM, [North
America] is still the largest and most developed wealth market in
the world," said senior partner Bruce Holley.

Seventy-eight percent of growth in North America comes from existing
wealth, due to a strong performance in the markets and successful
offshore investments. But Holley said strong performance could mask
the North American market's weakness in creating new wealth.

Holley also saw opportunities in profitability as more financial
services go digital. The uses for technology in financial services
range from more basic offerings such as mobile banking to more
complex backend technologies such as "robo-advisors" that use
algorithms to create optimal portfolios for investors based on their
goals, timelines and risk tolerance. So-called "fintech" can even
include social media that allow clients to discuss market
developments. Technologies can be embedded into the client
experience, and different ones can be targeted to specific groups.

"Across different age groups, digital can mean different things--
is it mobile, is it desktop," Holley said, adding "Older users are
actually active users on the desktop."

But digitization is not occurring as quickly in wealth management as
in other industries, partly because of the difficulty in determining
how to integrate technology into a client-advisor relationship. But
robo-advisors such as Betterment, Wealthfront, Future Advisor, Motif
Investing and lesser-known players, are creating competition for
wealth managers who feel pressure to act.

"Every wealth player I've talked to in North America at least has
had a conversation with robo-advisors," said Brent Beardsley, BCG
partner for asset and wealth management. "Everyone is trying to
figure out what to do, frankly. Many of [the robo-advisors] are
offering to become the white-label platform for [a firm's] offering"
--in which a company powers a product on another firm's site behind
the scenes--"because maybe they have a nice customer user
interface, but they don't have any clients. The probably don't have
a brand."
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[tt] Market Watch: U.S. military is the largest employer in the world

U.S. military is the largest employer in the world

By Sue Chang
Published: June 17, 2015 3:27 p.m. ET

Sue Chang is a MarketWatch reporter in San Francisco. You can follow
her on Twitter at @SueChangMW.

At 3.2 million strong, the U.S. military is the largest employer in
the world.

Travel on Uncle Sam's dime and have taxpayers pay for your
education--these are some of the perks offered by the U.S. military,
and it appears its recruiting strategy is effective.

The U.S. Department of Defense has been named the largest employer
in the world with 3.2 million employees on its payroll, according to
the World Economic Forum.

The second largest is China's People's Liberation Army with 2.3
million on its staff roster and third biggest is Wal-Mart Stores
Inc. WMT, +0.36% with 2.1 million employees.

McDonald's Corp. MCD, +1.57% came in fourth with 1.9 million workers
but the World Economic Forum noted the fast-food chain would be
eliminated from the list if employees at its franchise restaurants
weren't counted.

"As the majority of its restaurants are franchises, this figure
falls to 420,000 when they are excluded," said the WEF.

The U.K. National Health Service comes in at fifth place while the
remaining spots are taken by Chinese and Indian entities. Closing
out the top 10 list is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., also known as
Foxconn Technology Group 2317, -2.32% the contractor for Apple Inc.
AAPL, -0.59% and BlackBerry BBRY, -0.70% among others.

With the militaries of three countries in the top 10, it should be
noted that the list would look very different if only active duty
troops were counted. By that measure, China has the largest standing
military in the world with 2.3 million while the U.S. follows at 1.6
million and India is third with 1.3 million, according to, a military-focused website.
More from MarketWatch

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[tt] NYT Ask Well: Assessing Knee Supports

Ask Well: Assessing Knee Supports

By Gretchen Reynolds

Q. How effective is wearing a stabilizing knee support?

A. When you say "effective," I assume that you're asking how well a
knee support can stabilize a wobbly knee or lessen the pain of an
arthritic one. The answer, based on a large body of science, is that
nobody really knows.

"For each study that suggests wearing a knee brace can produce a
clinical benefit in reducing pain or feelings of instability," said
Dr. Robert A. Gallo, an associate professor of orthopedic sports
medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.,
"there usually is a counterstudy which demonstrates no difference in
symptoms between those using a brace and those who are not."

It's important, however, to differentiate among the types of knee
supports. Braces usually include rigid materials such as plastic or
carbon fiber that physically press against the bones of the knee and
provide firm external support.

Softer neoprene sleeves don't provide the same mechanical support,
precisely because they are soft. "Generally," Dr. Gallo said,
"neoprene sleeves are thought to function by aiding proprioception,"
which is the body's sense of where it is positioned in space. In
theory, improved proprioception around the knee joint could augment
knee stability by improving your balance.

But a 2012 study of people with knee arthritis found "no significant
improvements in balance with the use of a neoprene knee sleeve."

There is also little persuasive evidence that knee supports, worn
prophylactically on healthy knees, protect active people against
knee injuries.

Still, knee supports are much less expensive or invasive than knee
operations to treat injuries or arthritis, so worth trying before
resorting to surgery, Dr. Gallo said.

In particular, specialized knee supports, known as unloader braces,
that take some pressure off the knee joint when you walk, have been
shown in some studies to help people with knee arthritis remain
active and put off knee replacement surgery, at least in the short

Knee braces, but not sleeves, may also help after certain types of
knee trauma, Dr. Gallo said, especially a torn medial collateral
ligament, an injury common during basketball, soccer, skiing and
other sports. An M.C.L. tear generally heals without surgery if the
knee is properly supported.

But arthritis and torn ligaments are conditions that should be
formally diagnosed and not self-treated, Dr. Gallo said.

In other words, if your knee aches, don't turn to an
over-the-counter sleeve or brace. Talk to a doctor first. "Bracing
is most effective," Dr. Gallo said, "when the diagnosis is known and
a brace can be applied to effectively match the wants and needs of
the patient."
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[tt] NYT: The Joy of (Just the Right Amount of) Sex

The Joy of (Just the Right Amount of) Sex

By Gretchen Reynolds

Researchers long ago established a link between having sex and
feeling pleased with yourself and the world. In a representative
recent study of 1,000 women, for example, the participants ranked
sex as No.1 among the activities that made them the happiest. Data
from 16,000 American adults on incomes, sexual activity and
happiness led economists to conclude in a much-discussed 2004 study
that increasing the frequency of intercourse from once a month to
once a week increased happiness to the same extent as having an
additional $50,000 in the bank.

But while these and similar studies, which relied on surveys,
revealed an association between sex and happiness, they did not show
that more sex actually causes greater happiness. Perhaps happier
people just happen to have more sex. To establish causation,
scientists needed to get couples to have sex more often and then see
if that made them happier.

Turns out it may not, according to a new study in the August issue
of The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

For this study, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and
elsewhere recruited 64 adult couples, all married and heterosexual,
and asked the volunteers how often they had sex, how enjoyable it
was and how happy they were in general, based on standard
questionnaires that measure mood and energy. Half the couples,
picked randomly, were assigned to go about their lives as usual; the
rest were told to double the frequency of sexual relations. If they
had sex once a month (the minimum rate for inclusion in the study),
make it twice; couples who had sex three times a week (the maximum
rate for participants) were to go to six.

The subjects were also tasked with completing a short daily online
questionnaire for the experiment's duration, which was 90 days,
about the amount and quality of their sex the previous day and their
subsequent moods. Some couples in the experimental group actually
did manage to double the rate of intercourse, and on average there
was a 40 percent increase.

This did not make them happier. In fact, their well-being declined,
especially in measures of energy and enthusiasm, as did the quality
of the sex. Both men and women reported that the additional
intercourse wasn't much fun. The results surprised the researchers
--but they probably shouldn't have, according to George
Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie
Mellon, who led the study.

"It seems that if you're having sex for a reason other than because
you like and want sex," he says, you may undermine the quality of
that sex and your resulting mood.

The lesson is not simply to avoid participating in academic sex
studies. Instead, Dr. Loewenstein says, concentrate on quality
rather than quantity if you wish to be happy. Studies associating
sexual frequency and happiness may have missed the underlying link
between the two, which is the pleasurability of the sex. People who
like their couplings probably have more of them, and it is the
pleasure of the act, he says, that raises moods, not how often it
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