Paleontologists find the darndest things — including evidence for the longest-known sauropod neck, and fossils that literally turn their assumptions upside down. Check out these fresh developments from the fossil record:
Archaeologists have discovered a long-lost passageway within Egypt’s 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza, thanks to 21st-century technologies including muon tomography and endoscopy.
It’s the latest find made possible with the help of ScanPyramids, an international effort that started documenting Egypt’s best-known archaeological sites with high-tech tools in 2015.
Over the past eight years, ScanPyramids’ team has identified several voids within the Great Pyramid. The passageway described today lies just beneath the pyramid’s north face, about 23 feet (7 meters) above the main entrance. It’s 30 feet (9 meters) long, about 7 feet (2.1 meters) wide, and high enough for a person to stand in.
Ant-Man may be getting small in Marvel’s latest superhero movie — but in the real world, quantum is getting big.
Quantum information science is one of the top tech priorities for the White House, right up there with artificial intelligence. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM and other tech heavyweights are closing in on the development of honest-to-goodness quantum processors. A company called IonQ has a billion-dollar plan to build quantum computers in the Pacific Northwest. The market for quantum computing is projected to hit $125 billion by 2030.
So you might think “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” will be going all-out to feature real-life advances in quantum physics.
If that’s what you’re expecting from the movie, think again. “There’s no connection to real physics, or our understanding of reality,” says Chris Ferrie, a quantum physicist at the University of Technology Sydney and the UTS Center for Quantum Software and Information.
Ferrie should know, and not just because he has a Ph.D.: His latest book, titled “Quantum Bullsh*t,” colorfully catalogs all the ways in which popular depictions of quantum physics go wrong. In the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast, Ferrie explains why those depictions tend to focus on the B.S. rather than the theory’s brilliance.
“The reality .. that quantum physics is a tool for engineers to make predictions about their experiments … is really boring,” he says.
The latest film about the Titanic doesn’t show Leonardo DiCaprio standing up on the bow’s railings — instead, a single slim filament of coral takes his place as the king of the world.
That’s just one of the scenes from “Titan — A Viewport to Titanic,” a newly released 20-minute video that recaps OceanGate Expeditions‘ dives to the world’s best-known shipwreck in 2021 and 2022.
The film was assembled from high-resolution video captured during a series of dives made by OceanGate’s Titan submersible — a vessel that was designed specifically to take its crews 12,600 feet deep in the North Atlantic Ocean to document the site, year over year.
“Mission specialists, scientists and Titanic experts helped OceanGate Expeditions capture over 50 hours of high-resolution 4K and 8K footage and images of the wreck site,” Stockton Rush, CEO and founder of Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate, said in a news release.
“Titan — A Viewport to Titanic” is narrated by Rory Golden, a veteran Titanic diver and explorer who’s part of the OceanGate team.
The dinosaur formerly known as Brontosaurus could certainly do a lot of damage with its long tail — but just how fast could that tail whip?
Years ago, a team of researchers — including Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive who’s now the CEO of Bellevue, Wash.-based Intellectual Ventures — built a quarter-scale dinosaur tail from 3-D printed vertebrae and a bullwhip popper, and thrashed it around. Their aim was to show that the diplodocid dinosaur now known as Apatosaurus louisae could whip its tail with a supersonic crack more than 150 million years ago.
The team determined that the tail could indeed go supersonic, producing a crack as loud as the report of a naval gun and most likely scaring off potential predators. But now other researchers say their computer modeling shows that Apatosaurus’ tail wasn’t structurally strong enough to sustain a supersonic crack.
“Such an elongated and slender structure would allow achieving tip velocities in the order of 30 m/s, or 100 km/h (62 mph), far slower than the speed of sound,” a team led by Simone Conti of Portugal’s NOVA School of Science and Technology asserted this week in Scientific Reports.
Suffice it to say that Myhrvold isn’t convinced.
It’s long been accepted that birds are essentially modern dinosaurs, but does that mean an ancient dinosaur could have looked and acted like a duck? Paleontologists are pointing to fossils from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to make that argument.
In a study published by Communications Biology, researchers say that a well-preserved skeleton dated to the Upper Cretaceous period, between 100 million and 66 million years ago, exhibits streamlined features that would have been well-adapted to swimming. Back then, the region that’s now arid desert would have been much more hospitable to ducks and their kin — offering forests, streams and lakes.
The fossilized species was named Natovenator polydontus, a Latinized scientific name meaning “swimming hunter with many teeth.”
“This dinosaur, a carnivorous theropod that walked on two legs, is the first non-avian dinosaur to evolve into a streamlined body and start living in the water,” Yuong-Nam Lee, a vertebrate paleontologist at Seoul National University, told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
For the first time, scientists have created a quantum computing experiment for studying the dynamics of wormholes — that is, shortcuts through spacetime that could get around relativity’s cosmic speed limits.
Wormholes are traditionally the stuff of science fiction, ranging from Jodie Foster’s wild ride in “Contact” to the time-bending plot twists in “Interstellar.” But the researchers behind the experiment, reported in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Nature, hope that their work will help physicists study the phenomenon for real.
“We found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole, yet is sufficiently small to implement on today’s quantum hardware,” Caltech physicist Maria Spiropulu said in a news release. Spiropulu, the Nature paper’s senior author, is the principal investigator for a federally funded research program known as Quantum Communication Channels for Fundamental Physics.
Don’t pack your bags for Alpha Centauri just yet: This wormhole simulation is nothing more than a simulation, analogous to a computer-generated black hole or supernova. And physicists still don’t see any conditions under which a traversable wormhole could actually be created. Someone would have to create negative energy first.
During an expedition to the Titanic back in 1996, submersible pilot PH Nargeolet noticed a curious sonar blip that was coming from a site near the wreck. Was it a previously undetected piece of wreckage? An unexplored geological feature?
Twenty-six years ago, the pilot wasn’t in a position to investigate further. But now a totally different Titanic expedition has solved the mystery, with Nargeolet serving as part of the team.
Data collected during this summer’s dives by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate and Bahamas-based OceanGate Expeditions — plus the scientific analysis supported by the nonprofit OceanGate Foundation — reveal that the blip came from a volcanic ridge that serves as a home for corals, sponges and other deep-sea denizens.
When it comes to undersea adventures, can anything match seeing the 110-year-old wreck of the Titanic with your own eyes? Stockton Rush, OceanGate Expeditions’ president and chief submersible pilot, intends to find out.
Over the past couple of years, OceanGate Expeditions — and its sister company, Everett-based OceanGate Inc. — have repeatedly pulled off the difficult feat of sending a crewed submersible down to the Titanic, a luxury liner that tragically sank during its first voyage in 1912.
With Rush in the pilot’s seat, OceanGate’s Titan submersible carried scientific experts and paying customers down to a depth of 12,500 feet to survey the Titanic wreck and its surroundings. The voyages in 2021 and 2022 have attracted plenty of attention from media outlets — including the BBC, which is airing a documentary about the dives this weekend.
During a talk delivered at the GeekWire Summit on Oct. 7, Rush recapped OceanGate’s business plan and looked ahead to the company’s future frontiers.
Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate Expeditions set a new standard this year for documenting the condition of the 110-year-old wreck of the Titanic, thanks to a high-definition 8K video system that was installed aboard its submersible.
A sampling of the first-ever 8K video footage from the Titanic, captured during this summer’s dives in the North Atlantic, was released today. OceanGate plans to return to the wreck on an annual basis to track changes in the Titanic’s condition over time, in video resolution that’s roughly 8,000 pixels wide.
“The amazing detail in the 8K footage will help our team of scientists and maritime archaeologists characterize the decay of the Titanic more precisely as we capture new footage in 2023 and beyond,” Stockton Rush, president of OceanGate Expeditions, said in an emailed statement. “Capturing this 8K footage will allow us to zoom in and still have 4K quality, which is key for large screen and immersive video projects. Even more remarkable are the phenomenal colors in this footage.”
Rory Golden, a veteran Titanic diver who’s part of the OceanGate team, said the video revealed details he hadn’t seen before.
“For example, I had never seen the name of the anchor maker, Noah Hingley & Sons Ltd., on the portside anchor,” Golden said via email. “I’ve been studying the wreck for decades and have completed multiple dives, and I can’t recall seeing any other image showing this level of detail. It is exciting that, after so many years, we may have discovered a new detail that wasn’t as obvious with previous generations of camera technologies.”