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  1. Scale of the Universe Lets You Scroll From Subatomic Particles Up to the Known Universe

    Feel big, then normal, then real small in a matter of seconds.

    Big things are big, and small things are small. If you've ever wanted to compare big things to small things, here's your chance. The site Scale of the Universe lets you scroll from the tiniest subatomic particles all the way up to the size of the known Universe to give you an idea of how things compare.

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  2. “Father of Inflation” Surprised With News of Gravitational Waves [Video]

    Well, this is absolutely beautiful.

    Yesterday Stanford announced that the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation and gravitational waves may have been found. Chao-Lin Kuo, designer of the BICEP-2 detector that made the breakthrough, went to personally surprise Father of Inflation Andre Linde with the news that his life's work had just been validated. Beware: tearjerker territory.

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  3. The End Is Nigh Billions of Years Away: Higgs Discovery Might Suggest Universe is Finite

    The scientific community got pretty excited with the discovery of a Higgs-like particle last year, but it turns out it's not all smiles and high fives. Apparently the Higgs boson was the missing piece in a subatomic calculation that could predict a Universe-ending catastrophic event in the future. How worried should you be? Depends on how many billions of years into the future you've made plans, but chances are pretty solid that you'll be long dead before this happens. So will the Earth. Smile! Everything ends!

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  4. Today in Geek History: Copernicus Was Born

    Some days you celebrate just because something happened on that day, and some days just because a person who did an amazing thing was born. Case in point: On this day in 1473, Nicolaus Copernicus was born, and he later posited that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the Solar System. But what else did he say?

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  5. This is the Farthest-Ever View of the Universe

    Though we haven't been very far out into the black, that doesn't stop science from letting us know what it looks like out there. Thanks to a team of diligent astronomers, we can now gaze upon the farthest-ever view of the universe.

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  6. The Entirety of the Universe and the Astounding Diversity Which is Creation, to Scale

    You know when the modern patron saint of astronomical sciences Neil deGrasse Tyson says something is a must-see that it's a big deal, and it's hard to get much bigger than a scale model of the entire universe. Well, not everything in the entire universe, but a series of new and familiar touchstones that really put the scale of everything into context. And I do mean everything: The flash presentation created by Cary Huang starts with strings (no, these kind) and ends with "the observable universe." Getting from beginning to end does take a bit of time, but it's well worth the trip. After all, space is big. Really big. 

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  7. This is What the Nearby Universe Looks Like

    The above plot shows around 50,000 galaxies in the nearby areas of the universe, detected by the Two Micron All Sky Survey in infrared light. The dark band in the center doesn't mean that an oddly linear part of the universe is void of objects and we're all just really living inside a marble that two giant aliens happen to be playing with, but it was simply blocked by dust in the Milky Way's plane. Each dot represents a galaxy, color-coded to show distance -- the bluer the color, the closer the galaxy is and the redder the color means the further away it is. Head on past the break to see a larger version of plot.

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  8. Largest 3D Map of the Universe

    The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has the auspicious aim of creating a map of the universe that is accurate, and covering much greater distances than ever before. The result was unveiled this past Sunday, and the team seems to have lived up to their claim. The map's makers used 14,000 quasars, some of the brightest bodies in the universe, to illuminate gas clouds in regions of space some 11 billion light years away. From the study:
    These features arise as the light from the quasar is absorbed by the intervening neutral hydrogen. This gives one-dimensional information about the fluctuations in the neutral hydrogen density along the line of sight to the quasar. When spectra of many quasars are combined, it allows one to build a three-dimensional image of the fluctuations in the neutral hydrogen density and thus infer the corresponding fluctuations in the matter density.
    Though not the first attempt at intergalactic map making, it is the first to use the interaction of gas and quasars as the primary points of reference instead of the bright light from galaxies. It will surely be some time before a person would need this to find their way around, but in the meantime it could give scientists a clearer picture of the nature of our universe. For instance, comparing such quasar-based maps could demonstrate how the structure of the universe has changed over time, and maybe hint at the role of forces like dark energy in those changes. (image and story via New Scientist)

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