Connect with us

Tech

Behold the Magnetar, nature’s ultimate superweapon

Published

on

Behold the Magnetar, nature’s ultimate superweapon
Artist's conception of a magnetar.

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of a magnetar.

Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

If you think black holes are the scariest things in the Universe, I have something to share with you.

There are balls of dead matter no bigger than a city yet shining a hundred times brighter than the Sun that send out flares of X-rays visible across the galaxy. Their interiors are made of superfluid subatomic particles, and they have cores of exotic and unknown states of matter. Their lifetime is only a few thousand years.

And here’s the best part: They have the strongest magnetic fields ever observed, so strong they can melt you—literally dissociate you down to the atomic level—from a thousand kilometers away.

These are the magnetars, perhaps the most fearsome entities ever known.

Little green men

The best discoveries in science happen by accident, and to get to magnetars, we have to trace them through two unexpected observations.

The first came in 1967, when graduate student Jocelyn Bell (now Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell) was working with her advisor, Antony Hewish, on the newly constructed and very fancy Interplanetary Scintillation Array at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge, United Kingdom. While pouring over one night’s data, she found “a bit of scruff” (her words). It was a strikingly regular pattern, a flash of radio emission repeating every 1.33 seconds. Further observations showed that the signal came from the same point in the sky night after night, ruling out a terrestrial source.

At first, Bell and Hewish didn’t know what to make of it. It was so regular and predictable that they half-jokingly called the source “LGM-1,” wondering if “little green men” (i.e., aliens) might be responsible for the mysterious signal.

The Vela Pulsar, a neutron star corpse left from a titanic stellar supernova explosion, shoots through space, powered by a jet emitted from one of the neutron star's rotational poles.

Enlarge / The Vela Pulsar, a neutron star corpse left from a titanic stellar supernova explosion, shoots through space, powered by a jet emitted from one of the neutron star’s rotational poles.

NASA/CXC/PSU/G.Pavlov

Ever the wet blanket, astrophysicists came up with another explanation: It was a neutron star, the leftover core of a giant star that underwent a supernova catastrophe long ago. Physicists had hypothesized the existence of neutron stars decades before but had assumed that their tiny size would make them essentially unobservable. To their surprise, there the neutron stars were, revealing their presence in regular flashing beams of radio.

These objects came to be known as pulsars, a situation of pure coincidence. The rotating neutron star can emit beams of radiation that sweep out in circles like a lighthouse. When they flash over the Earth, we see them as a repeating pattern.

(In an unfortunate bit of history, Hewish won the Nobel prize for the discovery, but the committee excluded Bell.)

Around the same time, the United States Department of Defense launched a series of satellites, known as the Vela satellites, to monitor the Soviet Union for any naughtiness—specifically, any signs of violations of the nuclear test ban treaty. If the Soviets tested a nuclear bomb, it would release a flood of gamma rays that the Vela satellites could see from space.

The Vela satellites did indeed see a lot of flashes of gamma rays—but they came from the wrong direction. For years, the satellites monitored flash after flash coming from deep space and cataloged the mysterious events.

In 1973, the satellites finally let the astronomers in on the secret, and gamma-ray astronomy was born. After decades of study, astronomers realized that there were many different kinds of gamma-ray signals, with one in particular, the soft gamma repeaters, doing exactly what the name suggests: repeating.

To generate gamma rays (even the “soft” ones that are still incredibly powerful), you need a lot of energy, especially in the form of electromagnetic fields. And to make those emissions regular, you need something to be rotating. Astrophysicists realized that the best explanation for the origins of these soft gamma ray bursts was that they were beefed-up versions of pulsars, which would mean a highly magnetized neutron star.

In the 1990s, the concept of the magnetar was born.

Read More

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Tech

FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

Published

on

By

FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

Read More

Continue Reading

Tech

Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

Published

on

By

Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

See more

According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

Read More

Continue Reading

Tech

DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Published

on

By

DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

, , , , , ,

search relation.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2022 Xanatan