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Space Science

Pristine Big Bang Gas Found 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the drill-baby-drill dept.
New submitter cekerr sends this quote from Discovery News: "U.S. scientists have found two interstellar clouds of original gas, which contain only original elements created moments after the universe's birth (abstract). Unlike everything else in the universe, the gas clouds have never mingled with elements forged later in stars. The existence of pristine gas that formed minutes after the Big Bang explosion, some 13.7 billion years ago, had been predicted, but never before observed."
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Pristine Big Bang Gas Found

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  • by Rei (128717) on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:30PM (#38026146) Homepage

    Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started, wait...

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:50PM (#38026370)

      The whole universe was in a hot, dense state

      Florida? Alabama?

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      C'mon, join in!

      The Earth began to cool,

      The autotrophs began to drool,

      Neanderthals developed tools,

      We built a wall (we built the pyramids),

      Math, science, history, unraveling the mystery,

      That all started with a big bang! Bang!"

      There is a second verse. My daughter knows the words and sings it after the first verse at the beginning of every show. (I have a very small part -- I shout "they froze their asses off" at the right time.)

      Only show with physics problems in the vanity card.

      • by Rei (128717)

        I'm sure I wasn't the only one who found themself shouting out answers to the problems in the Physics Bowl episode and getting weird looks from housemates ;)

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Oh man, me too. Wife and daughter find this really irritating. I have a habit during the show of shouting out "that's actually true!" and "CERN reported that just last week!"

          I especially like Howard's bits because his mishaps and adventures are so often connected to real life -- like the ISS toilet episode, and the time he got Spirit stuck in the sand.

          You can bet Chuck Lorre will put something about this finding in a future episode. Hopefully it won't be a chili bean joke.

      • by RMingin (985478) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:54PM (#38027372) Homepage

        Three verses. One of the few MP3s I've purchased from Amazon.

        Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
        Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
        The Earth began to cool,
        The autotrophs began to drool,
        Neanderthals developed tools,
        We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
        Math, science, history, unravelling the mystery,
        That all started with the big bang! BANG!

        Since the dawn of man is really not that long,
        As every galaxy was formed in less time
        than it takes to sing this song.
        A fraction of a second and the elements were made.
        The bipeds stood up straight,
        The dinosaurs all met their fate,
        They tried to leap but they were late
        And they all died (they froze their asses off)

        The oceans and Pangaea
        See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!
        Set in motion by the same big bang!

        It all started with a big BANG!

        It's expanding ever outward but one day
        It will pause, then start to go the other way,
        Collapsing ever inward,
        we won't be here, it wont be heard
        Our best and brightest figure that
        it'll make an even bigger bang!

        Australopithecus would really have been sick of us
        Debating how we're here,
        they're catching deer (we're catching viruses)
        Religion or astronomy, Encarta, Deuteronomy
        It all started with a big bang!

        Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology
        It all started with a big bang!
        It all started with a big BANG!

  • Big Whoop (Score:4, Funny)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:31PM (#38026172)

    Every day I have a bowl of beans at lunch and make some "Pristine Big Bang Gas".

  • frist! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tyler Durden (136036) on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:39PM (#38026242)

    It seems that these gas clouds have the ultimate claims to First Post.

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:40PM (#38026252)

    Was it in the vicinity of Uranus?

    [okay, okay, someone had to say it]

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday November 11, 2011 @01:41PM (#38026260) Journal
    This clearly proves that Taco Bell seven-layer-burrito is more ancient than our galaxy. Where else could that pristine gas could have come from, I ask.
  • With all that helium and hydrogen, I would imagine it was pretty high-pitched.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, it's hydrogen and hydrogen. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen, not helium.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:00PM (#38026496)

    In analyzing the light coming from quasars (active nuclei of distant galaxies), astronomers realized the rays had passed through gas that contained only hydrogen and deuterium, elements that formed minutes after the Big Bang.

    So, the cloud contains only hydrogen and hydrogen but they refer to hydrogen as multiple elements? ;)

    I'm assuming they meant to say "The cloud contains nothing but two isotopes (hydrogen-1 and deuterium) of a single element, hydrogen.

    More seriously though, how can they conclusively state this is from the big bang? It's a big universe and there was bound to be a cloud containing only hydrogen somewhere. There is probably a cloud containing nothing but radon (the heaviest elemental gas) somewhere in the universe as well, right? If that exists would it disprove the big bang, or would it simply have been there by chance for billions of years, just like this one could have been?

    • So, the cloud contains only hydrogen and hydrogen but they refer to hydrogen as multiple elements? ;)

      I'm assuming they meant to say "The cloud contains nothing but two isotopes (hydrogen-1 and deuterium) of a single element, hydrogen.

      You know, there's a reason the word "assume" starts with "ass". If you actually read TFA instead of assuming, you'd have found out that those multiple elements are hydrogen, helium and lithium.

    • by JohnnyDanger (680986) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:55PM (#38027386)

      There is probably a cloud containing nothing but radon (the heaviest elemental gas) somewhere in the universe as well, right? If that exists would it disprove the big bang, or would it simply have been there by chance for billions of years, just like this one could have been?

      Hydrogen and helium isotopes (and a little bit of lithium and beryllium) are made in the Big Bang. Everything heavier is made in stars. So these pure clouds can exist only as long as there are no stars nearby to pollute them with heavier elements. Stars are common in the modern universe, which is why it has been so hard to find such clouds.

      Radon in particular is made in supernova explosions (and by the decay of radioactives which were made in supernova explosions) and there is no natural mechanism to separate it back out from mixtures of supernova debris. So in a sense, yes, if a massive, primordial, pure radon cloud was out there, it would disprove the Big Bang theory's prediction of nucleosynthesis, which can only make light elements.

    • by kurthr (30155)

      Actually, finding a cloud containing only Radon gas would basically indicate alien intelligence or some completely new nuclear process since there isn't a process that would purify to only Radon... Even isotopes that decay into radon would need to be purified....

      Finding a giant isolated stellar gas cloud that contains no other elements again either implies that they were purified by some process, or that it has been there alone since before there were other gases (eg Oxygen, Nitrogen) to mix with. It would

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:08PM (#38026600)
    with fart jokes and a discussion about religion...
  • If the big bang was more energetic than as supernova why did it only create Hydrogen and Helium? Why not at least some Lithium?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by thrich81 (1357561)
      This is going to be not quite right, but ... Supernova explosions and the Big Bang started with different precursors and followed different mechanisms. Supernovas start with a big batch of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium to begin with ( could be all the way up to iron, I think) then they blow up in an extremely dense mixture of the elements, during which there are tremendous neutron fluxes to build heavier elements. During the Big Bang there were no elemental precursors just mass-energy beyond
    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Because it was mostly isotropic and in equilibrium so there was't any pressure to fuse nuclei? Just a hunch.

    • Re:A question. (Score:5, Informative)

      by PvtVoid (1252388) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:48PM (#38028182)

      If the big bang was more energetic than as supernova why did it only create Hydrogen and Helium? Why not at least some Lithium?

      Lithium was produced in the Big Bang, but in very tiny amounts, less than a part per billion. No heavier elements were produced because of a "bottleneck" caused by the fact that there are no stable nuclei with atomic mass 5 or 8. Massive stars get around this bottleneck by the triple-alpha [wikipedia.org] process, i.e. by three-body collisions of helium, which requires higher temperatures and longer time scales than were available in Big Bang nucleosynthesis, which lasted only a few minutes.

  • Are we alone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oakgrove (845019) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:22PM (#38026848)
    It's things like this that lead me to believe we are more alone in the universe than we think we are. Given human propensity to destroy anything in a "pristine" state, I would have thought that sometime in the past 14 billion years an advanced alien civilization would have built an interstellar parking garage over these gas clouds. They haven't. Why not?
    • That's a false dichotomy. Either there are no aliens, or there are aliens parking starships everywhere. The universe is a huge thing. It's also an empty thing. Expecting alien space parking garages everywhere is beyond science fiction and is quite ludicrous.

      It's one thing for aliens to exist. It's another for them to be common. It's optimistic to then expect that they are more advanced than us. It's amazing if they are all into space travel. It would be quite startling if they are into interstellar travel.

      • by oakgrove (845019)

        That's a false dichotomy. Either there are no aliens, or there are aliens parking starships everywhere.

        I was just musing not expecting to really be taken seriously. Let me put a finer point on it though. Considering we are at least a third generation star system, if you believe advanced life isn't so ridiculously far-fetched that it rarely happens, it stands to reason that there have been many advanced civilizations that have come and gone long before us. For a species to have made it through the eons of evolution, individuals of that species would have to have a strong sense of self-preservation. One co

        • Re:Are we alone? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:11PM (#38028460)

          Let's assume for a second that an alien race existed that got advanced enough to build something big. First of all, how big would it need to be to be detected by us? Currently, we are on the verge of detecting Earth-sized planets. Even when we detect these, it isn't some telescope taking ultra-HD photos of the planet. It's a detection of gravitational effects or seeing the star's light dim as the planet passes between us and the star. So I'd wager we'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between an alien built Ultra-Planet-Sized-Death-Orb and Naturally Occurring Planet #52. Anything smaller than star-sized would either be mistaken as a naturally occurring object or would go completely unnoticed.

          So now our alien race has advanced to the point that they can build space-constructs the size of a star. Now, we'd need to actually detect it. For that, we need to ask where are they? Are they in the Milky Way? If not, chances are we see their galaxy and not them. Even if they are in the Milky Way, if they are on the far side we might not notice their object because it is blocked by the rest of the galaxy.

          Then there's the problem of distance. Remember, looking into the sky is like looking into the past. Suppose this alien civilization is 100,000 years ahead of us. If they are 10 light years away, no problem. We'll just see things the way they were 10 years ago. If they are 100,000 light years away, though, we'll see things the way they were when they were at our technological level. A million light years away and we'll be seeing them when they were cave-aliens. (And I use the term "seeing them" loosely. See the first point.)

          So even if an alien built a giant object in space, they would need to position it just right and have it be positioned at the right time for us to spot it. At this point, the fact that we haven't seen any aliens has more to do with the size of the universe and our detection abilities than whether or not aliens exist. This doesn't mean that they do exist. Just that lack of proof of existence doesn't equal proof of non-existence.

          • by oakgrove (845019)

            star. So I'd wager we'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between an alien built Ultra-Planet-Sized-Death-Orb and Naturally Occurring Planet #52. Anything smaller than star-sized would either be mistaken as a naturally occurring object or would go completely unnoticed.

            I was actually thinking much bigger than that. A hypothetical hyper advanced galactic civilization can do better than a giant death star. Why not build a giant Dyson's sphere around the galactic core? Why not reengineer the entire quadrant of space for computation. A sufficiently advanced civilization could conceivably reengineer everything to the sub atomic level and reconstitute reality into things we couldn't even begin to imagine. Eventually just through time and various projects, something would be no

    • by brainboyz (114458)

      You're assuming other civilizations have overcome the leash holding them to their flying rock. For all we know there's another world just as screwed up as ours with another civilization just as stuck as we are.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      This is just a short blip fueled by cheap energy. Once it's over there will be time to build a sustainable civilization. It won't be very tech intensive though and there won't be very many people.
      That's the solution to Fermi's paradox.

      • by khallow (566160)

        It won't be very tech intensive though and there won't be very many people.

        Technology doesn't require a lot of energy to run. People don't need a lot of energy to live either. And there's a huge amount of free energy raining down everywhere from the Sun. Looks to me like you haven't given this even the most basic of thoughts.

        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          But making stuff and food takes a lot of energy and fertilizer, both of which come from fossil fuels today and the time for large scale change has passed. We are following the worst case trajectories from Limits To Growth and the IPCC.

          • by khallow (566160)

            But making stuff and food takes a lot of energy and fertilizer

            More than half of fertilizer comes from legumes or other recycled biomass not fossil fuels (natural gas in other words). As to manufacture, there are two things to note. We can make most industrial processes less energy intensive - should we need to. And we have cheap energy sources coming as well (namely, solar and wind power). Manufacture can choose to operate when the power is cheap. So it doesn't matter so much that the cheap sources coming online are intermittent.

            We are following the worst case trajectories from Limits To Growth and the IPCC.

            Given that we aren't, what was the poin

    • by plurgid (943247)

      ... for all we know that IS an alien parking garage.

    • The advanced civilizations build intergalactic highway, (always after posting all due notices on the underside of suitable filing cabinets in a dark basement guarded by leopards) not garages. Epic fail.
  • this will be the big push we need to get back into human space exploration.... when porn companies fight to get to the virgin "hot" gas and make it all dirty.

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