No stars in ‘Star Wars’ jump into hyperspace

Updated 15 January 2013
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No stars in ‘Star Wars’ jump into hyperspace

PARIS: Remember that dazzling moment in the “Star Wars” movies when the Millennium Falcon goes into hyperspace and a kaleidoscope of stars streaks past the ship? Sadly — like a lot of things in sci-fi movies — that really wouldn’t happen, a team of British science students have calculated. Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia would not see any approaching stars as they accelerate through the galaxy because of the Doppler effect, students at the University of Leicester said.
This is the phenomenon by which the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation shortens or lengthens depending on whether the source is nearing or moving away from the person who is perceiving it. The classic example of the Doppler effect is the siren of a fire engine or ambulance, whose pitch changes relative to the bystander as it races down the street.
Because the Millennium Falcon is speeding toward the stars, the wavelength of the stellar light would shorten, which means it would move out of the visible part of the energy spectrum and into the X-ray range, the students calculated. On the other hand, cosmic microwave background radiation — the backwash of radiation from the Big Bang which created the Universe 14 billion years ago — would lengthen in wavelength and suddenly become visible.


Climate change cited in dwindling of Puerto Rico insects

Updated 16 October 2018
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Climate change cited in dwindling of Puerto Rico insects

  • This decline was accompanied by parallel reductions in insectivorous lizards, frogs, and birds, according to observations by the researchers
  • According to the model used by the researchers, the blame lies principally with global warming
WASHINGTON: After bees and birds, insects and other arthropods have also suffered massive losses, a study from a Puerto Rico forest published on Monday showed, citing the impact of climate change.
Measuring the population of arthropods, which includes insects, caterpillars, and spiders, is not simple but one method is to place sticky traps on the ground and in the forest canopy.
Researchers can also pass nets hundreds of times over the ground or in the foliage before weighing the dry captured biomass.
That is what the biologist Bradford Lister did in 1976 and 1977 in El Yunque National Forest in the US Caribbean commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Lister, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, returned there with another biologist in 2011 and 2012 to use the same methods.
They found that the dry weight biomass of arthropods captured in sweep samples had declined 4 to 8 times, and 30 to 60 times in sticky traps, according to their findings published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This decline was accompanied by parallel reductions in insectivorous lizards, frogs, and birds, according to observations by the researchers.
“Everything is dropping,” Lister told The Washington Post, warning of cascading effects on the food chain.
“If the tropical forests go, it will be yet another catastrophic failure of the whole Earth system,” he said, “that will feed back on human beings in an almost unimaginable way.”
According to the model used by the researchers, the blame lies principally with global warming. They reach this conclusion by noting Puerto Rico’s rising temperature over about 40 years.
The mean maximum temperatures, recorded by a forest weather station, increased 2 C (3.6 F) between 1978 and 2015.
Several studies around the world have presented evidence of a reduction in insect biodiversity, and of other animal families.
But the effect of climate change is not uniform.
A study published in the journal Science in August concluded that, except in tropical regions, an increase in temperature was on the contrary going to stimulate the population of harmful insects which will proportionately ravage more humans.
Avoiding global climate chaos will require a major transformation of society and the world economy that is “unprecedented in scale,” the United Nations said in a landmark report last week.
It warned that the world must become “carbon neutral” by 2050 to have at least a 50/50 chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 C.