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Quasar Alignment Is “Spooky”

first_imgUnexpectedly, quasar rotation axes show a peculiar alignment over billions of light-years.The European Southern Observatory, using its VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile, finished measuring the positions and rotations of 93 quasars and found something weird.  These powerhouses of light, with powerful jets streaming out their poles, show unexpected traits in common.  An ESO press release titled “Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years” states:New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.The large-scale structure of the universe looks like a web or network of filaments, with large voids between them.  This new clue to the quasars’ orientations in the filaments will require new models to explain how they got that way.  One of the team astronomers says, “The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos.”More Haunting Finds in CosmologyJet set:  The powerful jets emanating from active galaxies, quasars and black holes has long been a puzzle: where does all that phenomenal energy come from to accelerate the material almost to the speed of light?  A paper in Nature that came out the same time as the ESO announcement is titled, “The power of relativistic jets is larger than the luminosity of their accretion disks.”  Somehow, black holes and quasars are able to put the pedal to the metal:Here we report an analysis of archival observations of a sample of blazars (quasars whose jets point towards Earth) that overcomes previous limitations. We find a clear correlation between jet power, as measured through the γ-ray luminosity, and accretion luminosity, as measured by the broad emission lines, with the jet power dominating the disk luminosity, in agreement with numerical simulations. This implies that the magnetic field threading the black hole horizon reaches the maximum value sustainable by the accreting matter.Early galaxies:  More evidence has arrived that galaxies appeared suddenly at the dawn of creation.   PhysOrg reports the following from a Japanese team:A team of astronomers using the Subaru Telescope’s Suprime-Cam to perform the Subaru Ultra-Deep Survey for Lyman-alpha Emitters [LAE] have looked back more than 13 billion years to find 7 early galaxies that appeared quite suddenly within 700 million years of the Big Bang.Assuming that age, it represents an epoch in the first 5% of the universe’s history, right at the time when, according to the standard big bang model, “cosmic reionization” was removing the fog of particles moving out from the initial expansion, making the universe transparent.As many previous reports have shown over the last decade, early complex structure does not comport with the view of a slowly-evolving universe.  “What would cause this?”, the article asks.In the team’s analysis of their observations, they suggest the possibility that the neutral fog filling the universe was cleared about 13.0 billion years ago and LAEs suddenly appeared in sight for the first time.”“However, there are other possibilities to explain why LAEs appeared suddenly,” said Dr. Ouchi, who is the principal investigator of this program. “One is that clumps of neutral hydrogen around LAEs disappeared. Another is that LAEs became intrinsically bright. The reason of the intrinsic brightening is that the Lyman-alpha emission is not efficiently produced by the ionized clouds in a LAE due to the significant escape of ionizing photons from the galaxy. In either case, our discovery is an important key to understanding cosmic reionization and the properties of the LAEs in early universe.”What this implies, after clearing away the fog of celebratory self-congratulation, is that they have no idea what happened to make these bright galaxies suddenly appear.  More observations will be needed, the article ends.  “By these observations, we will clarify the mystery of how galaxies were born and cosmic reionization occurred.”  Understanding, therefore, lies out there in the future—not now.More fine tuning:  Laymen comfortable with the big bang as an explanation for the universe’s origin may not have heard of this problem:“The Standard Model of particle physics, which scientists use to explain elementary particles and their interactions, has so far not provided an answer to why the universe did not collapse following the Big Bang,” explains Professor Arttu Rajantie, from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London.A press release from Imperial College London offers an explanation for why it did not collapse based on the properties of gravity and the Higgs boson; just a little gravity would have been enough to prevent the cosmic catastrophe, the astronomers say.  The triumphal language in the press release shields the fact that the balance between the strength of gravity, the properties of the Higgs boson, and inflation (to say nothing of the initial conditions of the big bang) would have all had to conspire within tight constraints to allow our universe to survive and host life.Tricks of the trade:  Physics enthusiasts may enjoy New Scientist‘s list of ways astronomers trick quantum physics to learn more about the universe.  The “8 ways we bend the laws of physics” include ways to break light speed, take the twinkle out of stars, and reach absolute zero.  A photo of Bible-believing physicist Lord Kelvin is found in the illustrations.Since secular cosmologists have repeatedly shown their ineptness at modeling the universe (e.g., 11/10/14, 5/17/14), and have even shown a propensity to suppress the evidence (7/01/14) , it’s time for alternatives.  Are you able to think outside the box?  What do you make of these quasar polar alignments?  How about the powerful engines that produce the jets?  How could you get instant galaxies from an explosion?Creation astronomers will have puzzles to address, too, but with a different starting ideology, they deserve a place at the table to make sense of these observations.  By observations, we do not mean the ages of things, nor their position in the timeline of the big bang model.  Those are the very paradigms that are ripe for doubting. 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Blended Retirement or High 36?

first_imgWe have closed comments on this topic. Please refer inquiries to your local Military Installation Personal Financial Manager.Find out more about the Blended Retirement System on militarypay.defense.gov or http://www.militaryonesource.mil/By Carol ChurchAs most service members will have heard by now, major changes are coming to the military’s retirement system. As of January 2018, the new “blended retirement system” will be in full effect, and all those who enlist after that date will be enrolled in the blended system. At the same time, those who enrolled before Jan 1, 2006 will be grandfathered in to the old system; they will remain with the High 3s plan.But service members who joined after 2006 but before January 1, 2018 (this is many people active today!) will need to make a decision. They’ll have to decide whether to stay with the so-called High 36 or High 3s system or change over to the blended system.Why the change? Currently, more than 80% of service members leave the service before reaching the 20-year mark, meaning they never qualify for a military retirement pension. This is a huge number of people leaving service with no retirement savings (at least none provided by the military)!The military knew this, and wanted to do something about it. So, under the new blended plan, shorter-term members will be able to build savings through contributions from the DoD to their TSP plan, plus matching funds from the military for contributions they make themselves. This is basically a defined contribution system, like the 401K plans many workers in the private sector have access to. (However, there are also some reductions in later pension benefits.)Under the new plan, the military starts contributing 1% of base pay to service members’ retirement after 60 days, adding it to their TSP plans. At the beginning of the third year of service, the military will also start matching service member contributions to TSP plans (up to 4% of pay, for a total of up to 5% of pay being matched/contributed by the DoD). After two years of service, service members vest, and all money contributed by the DoD belongs to the service member and will go with him or her.Why Stick with the High 3s?If a service member is close to 20 years already, or feels very confident that he or she will remain with the military for the full 20 years, then the high 3s plan is likely to be the best option. Why? Because its pension pays out at a higher monthly rate—2.5% times years served (minimum 20) times the “high 3” pay (the average of the member’s highest 36 months of base pay). Meanwhile, the pension members will get under the blended system is less—2% times years served times the high 3 pay.That may not seem like much of difference at first glance, but remember that this plays out every month. So, for example, under the High 3s plan, someone with a retired pay base of $6,000/month who retires after 20 years will receive a monthly pension of $3,000. Meanwhile, under the blended plan, someone with a retired pay base of $6,000/month who retires after 20 years will receive a monthly pension of only $2,400. Over the course of just one year, that’s a difference of $7,200.Another reason the High 3s may be preferable to some is that it is not necessary to manage your own portfolio. This is not something everyone wants to do or feels comfortable doing. However, it’s important to note that the military plans to provide investment education.In addition, it should never be forgotten that under this plan, if a member retires before 20 years, he or she receives nothing from the military. Twenty years is a big commitment.Why Choose the Blended System?This plan is very helpful to members serving shorter terms. If a service member does not want to commit many years to the military, or just isn’t sure, it is definitely the best choice. The fact that members vest after just 2 years is great—the plan is “portable,” like most private retirement options, and can be rolled into a new employer’s 401k plan. Members also have the option to leave their money in the TSP plan and continue to contribute to it there. The option to receive matching funds up to 4% of pay is also great. Members who are good at saving are likely to do well with the plan.Of note, the blended plan also provides mid-career incentives intended to help retain more service members. At 12 years of service, members receive a bonus if they choose to continue their service for 4 more years. The amount is equal to 2 1/2 months of pay for active members and ½ month of pay for those in the reserves.Additional ResourcesThe Uniformed Services Blended Retirement SystemDoD Plans Benefit Revision With ‘Blended Retirement’Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the New Blended Retirement Systemlast_img read more

Dabholkar case: CBI seizes arms cache from Andure’s kin

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation, in collaboration with the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, has seized a weapons cache from the house of a relative of Sachin Andure, who was arrested last week in connection with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar. CBI officers said Mr. Andure, who was arrested on August 18, revealed that he had hidden some weapons in his cousin’s house in Aurangabad. “We sought ATS [anti-terrorism squad] assistance and on Tuesday morning, the house in question was searched, and a bag was found, which contained a sword, a dagger, a 7.65mm pistol and three live rounds of the same calibre,” a CBI officer said. Since ammunition of the same calibre was used in Dabholkar’s killing, the gun seized on Tuesday would be sent for ballistic testing. “Once the reports are received, we will compare it with the ballistic reports of the ammunition used in the offence,” the officer added. Mr. Andure’s arrest was the result of the interrogation of Sharad Kalaskar who, along with Vaibhav Raut and Sudhnwa Gondhalekar, was nabbed by the ATS on August 10. Mr. Kalaskar allegedly confessed to have been directly involved in Dabholkar’s murder, along with Mr. Andure, who was then summoned for inquiries and later handed over to the CBI on August 18. The ATS went on to arrest a fourth accused, Shrikant Pangarkar, from Jalgaon on Sunday. Disruptive activitiesThe ATS is still working on ascertaining the intentions of the four accused, who are charged with planning disruptive activities in various parts of the State. A large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives has been recovered from the first three accused, while Mr. Pangarkar is said to be a “facilitator and provider” for the trio. “Investigations so far reveal that the group that the accused are part of is a highly organised one, with various modules operating in silos. There is no interaction between members of different modules, and each module is instructed to focus on its own assigned task, similar to the working of sleeper cells of terrorist organisations. The level of training that the accused appear to have received also indicates an organised set up,” an ATS officer said. The officer said the scope of the investigation is likely to extend beyond the State’s borders. “We have found out that the arrested have travelled all over the country,” the officer said.last_img read more