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Tia Ghose
I write about the distant past, dystopian futures, and everything in between for LiveScience.
I write about the distant past, dystopian futures, and everything in between for LiveScience.


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So I'd imagine it has more to do with distrust and a feeling that powerful forces have malevolent intent, rather than a tendency to over-interpret patterns and causality where none exists. What do other folks think?
A common explanation for why people believe wild conspiracy theories falls flat.

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So fascinating!
Have astronomers found a TŻO?

When a big star runs out of fuel, its core can collapse and form a dense ball of neutronium just 25 kilometers across, called a neutron starBut what happens when a neutron star hits an ordinary star?

Kip Thorne is a physicist who helped write the most famous book on general relativity.  Now he's helping run the LIGO project for detecting gravitational waves.  Anna Żytkow is an astronomer at Cambridge who is looking for objects in the Kuiper Belt, outside the orbit of Pluto.  But back in 1977, they teamed up and asked this question... and answered it!

The answer is: the neutron star could fall to the center of the other star!   The result is called a Thorne–Żytkow object, or TŻO.

When this happens, the neutron star will suck in gas from the ordinary star.  It will get extremely hot, with temperatures over a billion degrees Celsius.  The heat comes from two things: energy released when infalling gas hits the neutron star, and nuclear fusion after the gas hits.

If all this happens inside a red supergiant star — a huge, puffed-up star — the inside of that star should get a lot hotter than usual.  So, weird processes should create elements that you don't usually see in such a star. 

And now astronomers have found a red supergiant with a lot more rubidium, strontium, yttrium, zirconium, molybdenum and lithium than usual.  We know this from its spectral lines.

So, they may have found a TŻO!

Anna Żytkow was pleased:

"I am extremely happy that observational confirmation of our theoretical prediction has started to emerge."

The candidate TZO is called HV 2112.  It's in the the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy orbiting ours, about 200,000 light-years away. 

The astronomer Nidia Morell found the weird elements in this star while conducting a survey of red supergiants last year.  At the time she said:

"I don't know what it is, but I know that I like it!"

Read all about it here:

Emily M. Levesque, Philip Massey, Anna N. Żytkow and Nidia Morrell, Discovery of a Thorne-Zytkow object candidate in the Small Magellanic Cloud,

Puzzle 1: How do you pronounce a Z with a dot on it?  Clue: Anna Żytkow is Polish.

Puzzle 2: What could happen if a neutron star falls to the bottom of a white dwarf, if their total mass is big enough?

Puzzle 3: What could happen if a neutron star falls to the bottom of a white dwarf if their total mass is not so big?

Puzzle 4: Suppose you have a neutron star inside a red supergiant. What eventually happens to it? 

Puzzle 5: Suppose two red supergiants containing neutron stars collide.  What happens then?

For more, read this:

or Wikipedia:

#spnetwork arXiv:1406.0001 #astronomy #Thorne–Żytkow

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"I left the medical school because I didn't feel that I would be a good doctor, and this is a much more responsible profession than being a mathematician. There you cannot make a mistake, here we make mistakes all the time."

Endre Szemerédi explains his switch from medicine to mathematics. This interview comes from our friends at CIRM (Centre International de Rencontres Mathématiques).

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Gotta love that physics humor.
Quantum Political Scientists Hypothesize Country Headed In Both Right And Wrong Directions Simultaneously: “Rather than inhabiting a single reality where the nation’s future looks bright or an opposite one where Americans are struggling like never before, our research suggests that these two conditions actually exist concurrently in a state of superposition.” 
When, oh when, will the wave function collapse and rid us of this blasted superposition? :)

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I can't believe I'm writing these words, but in this case, jeggings may be the solution!
Skinny jeans may be hazardous for your health, a new case report shows.

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I talk about Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept.

With +Mike Elgan, +Joe Panettieri, +David Gewirtz, +Molly McHugh, +Tia Ghose and Henry K. Lee.

Facebook ships a Google Photos killer, FBI is investigating Fiber cutting in San Francisco, the coolest new Xbox game looks like a cartoon from the 30s, and more...

Download or subscribe to this show at

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Getting ready for Pi Day of the Century at SXSW!

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Wonderful news. Let's hope this is the end of this scourge for Liberia
Liberia begins countdown to Ebola-free status as final patient released

Liberia released its last Ebola patient, a 58-year old English teacher, from a treatment center in the capital on Thursday, beginning its countdown to being declared Ebola free.
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