It is always scientists versus scientists or a theory against another theory, especially when it comes to space and universe. As the novel coronavirus pandemic plunged the world into a crisis, several theories — related to the origin, sustainability, and effects of the deadly virus — sprouted. Not just this. Claims of UFO sightings and the existence of aliens in some corner of a galaxy were among other revelations that amazed the world in 2020. Moreover, the recent string of appearance and disappearance of metallic monoliths in at least nine countries posed a puzzling mystery, sparking conspiracy theories on social media.
Here are some wild space theories that marked the year of pandemic, 2020:
1. CORONAVIRUS DROPPED FROM SPACE
It’s almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and yet, the source of the virus is yet to be confirmed. Some say it was “developed” at China’s Wuhan lab, while some have argued that it’s a bat-borne virus. But here’s a strange theory that suggests the coronavirus, which has claimed millions of lives, in fact, dropped from space, landing on Earth on a meteorite.
A study published in July this year hypothesized that the virus came from space and had reached Earth on a space rock or a meteor. The researchers said, “…It [the outbreak] actually looks like a huge viral bomb explosion took place near or over Wuhan”.
Emphasising on the unique coronavirus-origin theory, the study explained an “alternate hypothesis” that Covid-19 arrived on a space rock — “via a meteorite, a presumed relatively fragile and loose carbonaceous meteorite” — which was struck North-East China on October 11, 2019.
“A reasonable assumption is that the fireball which struck 2000 km N of Wuhan may have been part of a wide tube of debris the bulk of which was deposited in the stratosphere to fall over Wuhan,” it said.
“We then assume the viral debris and particles then made landfall in Wuhan and related regions about a month to 6 weeks later resulting in first cases of viral pneumonia caused by Covid-19 emerging in Wuhan regions late November 2019-early December 2019,” the paper read.
However, an astrobiologist, Graham Lau, had told Space.com in an interview that the theory is unlikely. Calling the theory as an “extraordinary claim”, Lau said that even though the idea is interesting, “we just don’t have any reason to embrace” it right now.
2. BIG BANG A MYTH?
No, the universe did not start with the Big Bang…There was actually a universe already existing before it and the Big Bang was merely the end of that universe, said Nobel laureate Roger Penrose. However, the evidence of that previous universe can still be observed today, he said.
Speaking to The Telegraph (UK) after winning the Nobel Prize, Roger Penrose said the Big Bang was “not the beginning…there was something before the Big Bang and that something is what we will have in our future.
Roger Penrose was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on black holes. In its citation, the Academy said Roger Penrose was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”
3. ALIENS EXIT AND TRUMP KNOWS IT
The question of whether aliens exist or not has been raised time and again with several conspiracy theories supporting the fact that there might be extraterrestrial species looking at Earth from distance afar.
Recently, former Israel space chief Haim Eshed said that aliens are real and that US President Donald Trump knows about it. Eshed said that the aliens are secretly in touch with America and Israel, however, they are keeping their existence quiet because “humanity isn’t ready”.
According to a report, Eshed, who headed Israel’s space security programme for nearly 30 years, further claimed there’s a “Galactic Federation” of aliens and their cooperation with the US includes a secret underground base on Mars. He said, “Trump was on the verge of revealing [aliens’ existence], but the aliens in the Galactic Federation are saying, ‘Wait, let people calm down first’. They don’t want to start mass hysteria. They want to first make us sane and understanding.”
“They have been waiting for humanity to evolve and reach a stage where we will generally understand what space and spaceships are,” said Eshed, according to Jewish Press quoted in the report.
The Israel space agency chief’s statement comes months after Pentagon officially unclassified three videos taken by US Navy pilots showing “unidentified aerial phenomena,” known as UFOs. On April 27, the US Department of Defence said it was authorising their release, acknowledging that they had been leaked and were “circulating in the public domain”.
4. EVERYDAY, A MYSTERIOUS MONOLITH ALERT
The latest string of mysteriously appearing and then disappearing monoliths in different parts of the world, triggering public imagination, not only because of the mystery that it creates but also because of its stark resemblance with a monolith that appears in the science fiction movie — 2001: Space Odyssey fan.
First, a monolith appeared was spotted on November 18 in a desert in Utah, which then disappeared mysteriously. Another structure was found in Romania before it appeared atop a mountain in California days later. It was then again found on a beach in the Isle of Wight in England. Later, two other monoliths were spotted in Poland.
The appearance of the monolith in Utah sparked wild rumours of alien visitations because of its resemblance to the black monolith in the Stanley Kubrick science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
Whether these objects have an extraterrestrial origin or they really are the work of “new wave artists” is still a question to ponder upon.
5. ‘PARADOX-FREE TIME TRAVEL THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE”
An undergraduate student at the University of Queensland, investigating the possibility of time travel, found that “paradox-free time travel is theoretically possible“.
“The theory of general relativity predicts the existence of closed time-like curves (CTCs), which theoretically would allow an observer to travel back in time and interact with their past self,” the study read.
Fourth-year Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) student Germain Tobar was working under the supervision of UQ physicist Dr Fabio Costa. The finding was published in September 2020 in the journal Science Daily.
According to the study published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity in September this year, Tobar and Costa claimed that they have found a way to “square the numbers”.
“The range of mathematical processes we discovered show that time travel with free will is logically possible in our universe without any paradox,” Tobar said in the study.
The researchers explained their idea of paradox and time travel: “Say you travelled in time, in an attempt to stop Covid-19’s patient zero from being exposed to the virus. However, if you stopped that individual from becoming infected — that would eliminate the motivation for you to go back and stop the pandemic in the first place.”
Here comes a paradox — “an inconsistency that often leads people to think that time travel cannot occur in our universe”.
In this case, there’s no free will. “It would mean you can time travel, but you cannot do anything that would cause a paradox to occur,” the study author said.
Contradicting the example of the possible paradoxical condition, the researchers said that their work implies that none of these conditions has to be the case. “It is possible for events to adjust themselves to be logically consistent with any action that the time traveller makes,” Science Daily reported.
Stating another possibility, Tobar said, “In the coronavirus patient zero examples, you might try and stop patient zero from becoming infected, but in doing so you would catch the virus and become patient zero, or someone else would…This would mean that — no matter your actions — the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it.”
There’s free will here in this scenario. The pandemic is still happening, but patient zero is someone else. “No matter what you did, the salient events would just recalibrate around you…”This would mean that — no matter your actions — the pandemic would occur, giving your younger self the motivation to go back and stop it,” Tobar said.
“Try as you might to create a paradox, the events will always adjust themselves, to avoid any inconsistency.”
6. UNIVERSE NOT THAT DARK
Towards the end of a dark year, the universe turned out to be a shade brighter, literally. Astronomers, measuring the darkness of interplanetary space using cameras on the New Horizons spacecraft, found that our universe is not completely dark. “There’s something out there unknown.”
“The universe is not completely dark, and we don’t yet completely know what it comprises,” a report in the New York Times quoted astronomer Tod Lauer, of the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory in Tucson, Ariz, as saying.
Lauer said that there’s a possibility that “we messed up and missed a light source or camera artifact that we should have figured out. This is what I worry about the most.”
7. EARTH LIFE MAY HAVE TRAVELLED TO VENUS
Another space theory suggests that if at all, there’s life on Venus, it might have travelled there from Earth “aboard an asteroid that scooped up microbes high in our skies”.
A recent study indicated at the “potential biosignature gas phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere, at an altitude where temperatures and pressures are similar to those at sea level here on Earth,” a report in Space.com said.
Here, the presence of phosphine s in question. The researchers mentioned two possibilities: First, chemical reactions that have nothing to do with life may be generating the phosphine and the second, the possibility that the gas is being released by microbes hovering in Venus’ sulfuric-acid clouds.
“Those microbes, if they exist, could be part of Earth life’s family tree”, even as some material from Earth has eventually reached Venus over the years.
“Chunks of the planet that were blasted into space by comet or asteroid impacts and ended up getting caught in the second rock from the sun’s gravitational grip,” the report said.
However, “a sky-skimming near-miss could do the trick,” Harvard University’s Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb said in the new study.
8. BLACK HOLES ARE LIKE A HOLOGRAM
Studying black holes has been a challenge for scientists — with all the complexities related to the quantum physics of gravity or Einstein’s theory of relativity. Remember the incredible image of a black hole that thrilled the world a year ago? A study revealed that black holes could resemble a hologram, “where all the information is amassed in a two-dimensional surface able to reproduce a three-dimensional image,” a report in the Earthsky said.
In simple terms, the theory suggests that “black holes appear to be three dimensional, just like holograms” — an idea that supports Einstein’s theory of relativity, according to which black holes are three dimensional, simple, spherical, and smooth.
The study indicated that “black holes could be incredibly complex, and concentrate an enormous amount of information in two dimensions, like the largest hard disks that exist in nature.”
The study was published in the journal Physical Review X.
Holography is a photographic technique in which light is scattered from an object, and then is presented in a way that appears to be three-dimensional.
9. “FERTILIZER MADE FROM URINE COULD ENABLE SPACE AGRICULTURE”
Amid the quest for life in space, astronauts are harvesting radishes on International Space Station. “The structure of the experiment will allow NASA to identify the optimum balance of care and feeding needed to produce quality plants,” Nasa had said.
The bunch of radishes is being grown under a strictly controlled environment — “meticulously collected and wrapped in foil each of the 20 radish plants, placing them in cold storage for the return trip to Earth in 2021 on SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission,” Nasa said.
But, what else might contribute to future agricultural practices in space.
In a study, scientists emphasised “a cheap and efficient method to make liquid fertilizer (ammonia) from simplified artificial urine, serving an ideal dual purpose of growing food and treating waste.”
“Realizing that farmers have used animal waste as fertilizer for thousands of years, as a rich source of nitrogen,” researchers at the Tokyo University of Science “have been analysing the possibility of manufacturing it from urea [the main component of urine], to make a liquid fertilizer,” a report in Science Daily said.
The study seems to be important since cultivating crops in space indicates the possible sustainability even before humans get there.
10. FRAGMENTS OF ENERGY — BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNIVERSE
Our universe is made up of matter, but what is matter made of? particle? atoms? Researchers have recently proposed that matter is not made of particles or waves — as earlier thought — but it is made of fragments of energy.
First, the ancient Greeks believe that the five building blocks of matter were – from bottom to top — earth, water, air, fire, and aether. Several years later, Sir Isaac Newton introduced the idea that all matter exists at points called particles. Then, Einstein eliminated the theory of “particles or waves” and rather “proposed the warping of space and time”.
Now, in 2020, a new theory surfaced with its authors claiming that their idea “may accurately describe the universe”.
“We considered that there could be a building block that is more fundamental than the particle and the wave. Scientists understand that particles and waves are existential opposites: A particle is a source of matter that exists at a single point, and waves exist everywhere except at the points that create them. My colleague and I thought it made logical sense for there to be an underlying connection between them,” the study authors said.
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