Far-out questions Harvard astronomer Loeb caught up in the thrill of the search New light on dark matter Related Is the interstellar object known as “‘Oumuamua” a sign of extraterrestrial life? Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, isn’t surprised that his idea has drawn skepticism. All the same, he notes, progress begins with an open mind.“This is how science works,” said Loeb. “We make a conjecture … and if someone else advances another explanation, we will compare notes and the next time we see an object of this type we will hopefully be able to tell the difference. That’s the process by which science makes progress.”Loeb, also the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, collaborated with postdoctoral fellow Shmuel Bialy on a paper suggesting that ‘Oumuamua may be a lightsail created by an alien civilization.“When I first heard about ‘Oumuamua, this idea was in the back of my mind,” Loeb said. “So I approached Shmuel and said, ‘Let’s see whether sunlight can push this’ … because there was nothing else I could think of which could account for our observations, because this object is weird. So, my approach was to follow the maxim of Sherlock Homes — ‘When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’”An alternative to traditional rocket propulsion, lightsails are propelled by radiation from the sun or from lasers. Calculations by Loeb and Bialy show that for solar radiation to push ‘Oumuamua, it must have an unusual geometry — tens of meters in size, but less than a millimeter thick.In their paper, published this month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Loeb and Bialy advanced two possibilities for the object’s origins — that it is debris from a now-defunct craft tumbling through the galaxy, or that it was launched as a sort of reconnaissance probe from elsewhere in the galaxy.While he acknowledged that other astronomers — including the researcher who discovered ‘Oumuamua — have dismissed those ideas, Loeb said such debates are an important part of the scientific process. And while alien life may once have been strictly science fiction, Loeb pointed to a growing body of evidence suggesting we’re not alone.“We know a quarter of all the stars in the galaxy have planets in the habitable zone of their host star … so to me it’s not impossible that there may be life elsewhere,” he said. “We know a quarter of all the stars in the galaxy have planets in the habitable zone of their host star … so to me it’s not impossible that there may be life elsewhere.” — Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, pictured below,First spotted just over a year ago by astronomers in Hawaii, ‘Oumuamua, whose name translates to “messenger from afar arriving first,” immediately captured scientists’ imaginations because it was the first known interstellar object to pass through the solar system. The mystery around the discovery quickly grew.For starters, Loeb said, its reflection of sunlight suggested that its shape was much more elongated or flattened than any known asteroid or comet, and its motion indicated that it originated from the so-called “local standard of rest” obtained by averaging the random motions of all nearby stars. Fewer than one in 500 local stars moves as slowly in that frame, Loeb said.What’s more, if ‘Oumuamua originated from a population of similar objects on random trajectories, its discovery would require the production of a thousand trillion such objects per star in the Milky Way — far more than the theoretical calculations Loeb and colleagues performed.By far the most intriguing observation, Loeb said, suggested that ‘Oumuamua was not just accelerating, but deviating from its expected trajectory.“The deviations aren’t large, only about one-tenth of a percent, but nevertheless that is significant,” Loeb said. “The question is what is making it deviate. We have seen deviations of this magnitude in comets when they experience outgassing as ice is warmed by the sun, but there is no cometary tail around ‘Oumuamua, and we don’t see its spin changing as we would with outgassing … so it occurred to me that this may be due to radiation pressure from the sun.”The notion of using a solar sail to move across vast distances isn’t all that unusual, Loeb said.In 2010, a Japanese spacecraft dubbed IKAROS demonstrated the first successful use of the technology. Loeb is the chair of the advisory board for the Breakthrough Starshot project, which aims to launch a solar-sail-driven probe to the nearest star system.“It’s possible that, once a civilization reaches a certain maturity technologically, that this is a very common technological solution,” Loeb said. “A rocket is limited to a certain speed … because you are carrying the fuel with you. But if you are using light to push yourself, you’re not limited in the same way.”Today, ‘Oumuamua is too far away to allow definitive answers on the questions raised by Loeb and other astronomers, and moving too fast to be chased down by probes launched from Earth. Loeb hopes that the next such opportunity will end with more answers.“My hope is that the next time around, when there is an object like this, people will be intrigued, and … we will do everything we can to figure out what it is,” he continued. “It may well be that it’s a natural object, and if it is, I would argue that it has so many peculiar features that we should understand where it comes from, and we will learn something new from it. But until then, all possibilities should be on the table.” The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Researchers explain that dark matter particles may have electric charge, and why that matters
The Argentine government sent federal troops to Bariloche, after lootings on December 20 by dozens of people in several supermarkets took place, one of which was the American chain Walmart, said the National Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina. “The federal forces, requested by the provincial government, are leaving to Bariloche to collaborate and keep the city in order,” Abal Medina told the press. On the morning of December 20, dozens of looters armed with sticks entered a Changomás store, which belongs to Walmart, located in a suburb in Bariloche, and they took television sets, bicycles, and electrical appliances, according to witnesses. “The situation is not under control; this is worrying. More people are increasingly joining.” The official said that “even a safe” was robbed at one of the stores, and added that he was not aware of who the looters were that broke into the stores. The Cabinet Chief put the blame on “small marginal and violent organizations” for the lootings, and linked these events to the blackout that took place in half of Neuquén province on December 19, adjacent to Rio Negro. The 50,000-inhabitant city of Bariloche is a beautiful Andean village surrounded by lakes, where thousands of tourists arrive during the winter every year to practice skiing, and many visitors for the summer season also come. The economy of this Patagonion city, where the main activity is tourism, was seriously affected in 2010, when the village was covered in ashes from the Chilean volcano Puyehue, which left it off the beaten track for some time, a situation from which it gradually recovered. By Dialogo December 24, 2012
The Undergraduate Student Government released a statement Thursday addressing a tent structure resembling a teepee that was originally set up at McCarthy Quad. Some students found it culturally insensitive. USG said in the statement that the event did not intend to be culturally insensitive.Photo courtesy of Julian Wolff The structure was put up by Sambazon, an açai bowl company that co-sponsored an Environmental Student Assembly event called “Purple for the Planet,” according to the statement released by USG.“The Environmental Student Assembly would like to sincerely apologize for the culturally inappropriate symbol that appeared on McCarthy Quad today,” the USG statement said. “What was meant to be an event celebrating eco-beauty and promoting biodiversity, co-sponsored with the acai-bowl company Sambazon, turned into something unrepresentative of our core values and our mission.” In a statement emailed to the Daily Trojan, Sambazon also apologized for offending students. “I am deeply apologetic that any one person was uncomfortable or offended, our main intention was to engage the USC students in our efforts to save 30 species in 30 days,” Sambazon Chief Marketing Officer Renee Junge said in the statement. Sambazon said that its work aims to protect indigenous cultures. Sambazon is an acronym for Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon, and the company has worked to protect 2.4 million acres of indigenous land, according to the Sambazon statement. “The structure of the tent was intended to represent a place of dwelling and community where everyone could gather to support a common cause and share purple love through the giving of acai bowls to the USC students,” the Sambazon statement said. “Sambazon extends sincere apologies to any student or groups who may have been offended by the activation that took place on the USC campus.” Native American Student Union president Mato Standing Soldier called the structure culturally insensitive because of how similar the design was to a teepee. “I feel like there was some good dialogue happening and even if there wasn’t, it was still being shown that there is an issue embedded in USC’s culture revolving around indigenous populations [and] how they’re represented,” he said. “I think there is a small population at USC, and people are forgetting about our roles and our voices and how we choose to be represented.”Julian Wolff, a sophomore majoring in public policy, saw the tent Thursday morning and decided to approach the people at the structure to express his concerns. “I told them, ‘This is a cultural image and a cultural symbol of Native people, and I don’t appreciate that your company is using this image for profit,’” Wolff said. Wolff said he filed a bias report with the University and spoke to a USG official to express his concern. He also posted a picture of the tent in the USC Memes for Spoiled Pre-Teens Facebook group, expressing his concerns about the structure. The post was deleted from the group at 2:36 p.m. by a moderator of the group. “When I approached the [event] organizers I was laughed at for being concerned and upset. This cultural image/display is not up for capitalist greedy grabs!!!!,” Wolff wrote in the post in the Memes group. “University of Southern California students, faculty and administrators should be ashamed that this culturally insensitive display is on our campus!!!!”John Lynch, an administrator of the group, said the post’s removal was not sanctioned by the page administrators. “I’m really sad the tent post got deleted,” Lynch said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “I want the memes page to be a place where everyone can have open dialogue about campus issues. I think it’s really important for everyone to be able to discuss their ideas whether you think someone else’s opinion makes them a clown or whatever.”Wolff said he wanted to speak up about the tent because of his experiences learning about indigenous cultures.“For my entire life I’ve spent my summers as a docent, as a volunteer, a camper and a camp counselor at Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz.,” Wolff said. “I was constantly exposed to indigenous people and indigenous culture … I always felt a profound sense of appreciation for these cultures and learning about them respectfully.”USG said the tent structure was not approved by the event administration.“Once the construction of the structure was completed, we immediately recognized its detriment to our student body as being appropriative of Native American and indigenous cultures,” the statement from USG said. “As representatives of student voices, this was not tolerable by any means.”In their statement, USG said they asked Sambazon to take down the structure and shut down the event soon after the structure was built.“You need to make sure that things like this don’t happen,” said Standing Soldier in response to the USG statement. “It puts a sour taste in the mouths of all indigenous members of USC, but also the large indigenous community in L.A. We pride ourselves in being an inclusive community, but when things like this happen, when there is just a lack of accountability, I think that’s just really detrimental.” Wolff said that while he appreciated USG’s actions following the incident, he wants the organization to be more aware going forward. “I appreciate that USG is remorseful, I appreciate that they responded in a timely manner, I appreciate that they shut down the event, and that they are fully aware of why this is not OK,” Wolff said.Tomás Mier contributed to this report. EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated to include a statement from Sambazon emailed to the Daily Trojan.
“I was just overexcited. She’s also from the Bay Area, so having someone who’s from the Bay on stage and someone who is an alum and is of color is so amazing and so exciting,” Cruz said. “I did not think I was going to meet her, so I think meeting her made it a thousand times better.” After the crown chanted Saweetie’s name, DJ Carisma from L.A. radio station Power 106 came on stage for a DJ set that lasted more than half an hour. “She did her top songs, which everyone loved, everyone screamed for,” said Marlize Duncan, a freshman majoring in journalism. “I don’t mind the dirty shoes that I got from everyone moshing.” Rapper and 2016 alumna Saweetie headlined this year’s Conquest, which also featured drag queen Angel Dust and rapper Channel Tres. During her performance, Saweetie brought out her partner and rapper Quavo. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) Like last year, USC’s Esports Union faced off against UCLA’s esports team in a League of Legends tournament. While last year’s matchup ended in a tie, this year’s saw a 3-2 victory for USC. With a Ferris wheel, an esports tournament against UCLA, student group showcases and sponsored booths with giveaways, Conquest strived to bring students more of an experience than just a concert. “Do you mind if I do a couple songs?” Quavo asked over chants of his own name. After USC Concerts Committee announced Wednesday that rapper Rico Nasty couldn’t headline this year’s Conquest due to personal reasons, it announced 2016 Annenberg alumna Saweetie would perform instead. “Yo, my name is Channel Tres, I hail from Compton, California, what’s cracking?” he asked the audience. After an agonizing half-hour wait for Conquest’s headliner, the crowd roared to life when rapper and USC alumna Saweetie sauntered on stage, later accompanied by her partner and fellow rapper Quavo. “Concerts Committee is only as strong as the members that make it up, and I think today was a fantastic example of the insane amount of talented individuals we have been lucky to acquire within our club in the last two years,” Begler said. For the second consecutive year, Trojan Pride Committee replaced the annual tradition of burning a Bruin bear with an opportunity for students to throw pie tins full of whipped cream at a large print of a Bruin. While last year’s bonfire was canceled out of concerns of unhealthy air quality, this year it was out of respect for those affected by the recent Getty wildfire. Tres’s 45-minute set remained engaging throughout by incorporating crowd participation, a visual for his song “Topdown” and a stream-of-consciousness-style freestyle during which he faced away from the audience. “You know, I was in debt,” she said. “That motherfucking loan shit was no joke.” “USC, we love y’all, you know I love y’all,” Quavo said. “I gotta give the stage back to my beautiful lady, the icy girl.” After performing her breakout hit “ICY GRL” and throwing T-shirts with the phrase “Respect the icy punani” on them into the crowd, Saweetie brought out her partner, rapper Quavo of rap trio Migos, for their collab “Tip Toes.” “I’m tryna get y’all hype as fuck before I bring my girl Saweetie out here,” Carisma said to the crowd. Following the recent rise in student deaths, Conquest invited various organizations that provide mental health resources to the event, including the Department of Mental Health and Rise Above the Disorder. “We’re just out here trying to make sure that people know that it’s OK to reach out for help and to normalize talking about mental health,” said Rise Above the Disorder case manager Crystal Navarro. “I thought the set was really dope. It was really unexpected,” said Jaryn Valdry, a sophomore majoring in communication. “I didn’t listen to Channel Tres before I came, but I really like his vibe, and the bounce in his music just made it really fun.” Saweetie came back onstage to talk about her experience at USC and play her smash single, “My Type.” Leading up to the main acts, this year’s event broke barriers by showcasing a performance by Angel Dust, a USC drag queen who recently performed at the Queer and Ally Student Assembly’s 10th annual drag show “House of Troy.” Toward the end of her set, Saweetie invited three students, including Ariadna Cruz, a junior majoring in NGOs and social change, on stage to dance from the crowd. After the show, the trio took photos with Saweetie and received a silver, Icy-branded necklace. Although her set was scheduled to begin at 10 p.m., Saweetie didn’t take the stage until 10:25 p.m. She came out to the title track from her 2018 EP, “High Maintenance.” Everything she wore was royal purple: her fur coat, bell-bottom pants, platform heels, sequin and velvet bra, eye shadow and wide hoop earrings. Tres did not let technical difficulties hold him back from delivering a solid show. His vocals were quiet for a significant portion of his set, but his groovy, uptempo songs were infectious enough to get the crowd dancing. He was accompanied by two dancers, and together the trio executed choreography to every track. “Get your motherfucking good grades. Fuck that bitch Sallie Mae,” she said, referring to the federal loan company. Though doors for the event opened at 5 p.m., the opening act Channel Tres, didn’t go on until 8:50 p.m. When he did go on, he sported his signature rolled beanie in light blue with a cardigan that he promptly shed as he launched into his set. While some were disappointed by the length of her set, they felt it did not detract from their experience. Despite a last-minute change of lineup, the hybrid concert, pep rally and carnival held annually the week of USC’s football game against rival UCLA, brought students to McCarthy Quad Thursday night. The Spirit of Troy, along with other student performances, hyped up the crowd for Conquest’s headliners. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) Rapper Quavo, Saweetie’s partner, surprised the audience with his appearance, performing a duet and solo songs. ( Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) “It was really, really touch-and-go for the last 48 hours, and there was a lot of stress and anxiety,” Concerts Committee codirector Chris Begler said. “But I am nothing but elated with the way [codirector] Leila [Kashfi] and I handled ourselves and most importantly with the way our team handled ourselves.” Saweetie left the stage while Quavo — whose performance alongside Migos at Springfest 2017 was canceled because of overcrowding — played “Pure Water” and “Bad and Boujee.” Following the dance competition, Saweetie’s set came to a quick close. “We were caught off guard with the fires last year, but as a result, this year I came in, and I’m like, ‘We need to have an alternate plan from the start,’” said Trojan Pride member Yuliya Pisman. “We were planning backups from the very beginning, so it was less stressful when we learned that it was canceled.” Despite the unforeseen circumstances surrounding the event’s planning, Conquest drew an impressive 6,500 students, an increase of approximately 1,500 from last year’s event. According to Kashfi, the event “literally could not have gone better.” “So y’all know I used to go here, right?” Saweetie asked after her first song. “I got my fucking degree, and I got to the motherfucking bag.”
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 NFL season on a one-year exclusive franchise tender after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract by Wednesday’s deadline.Prescott had already signed his tender offer and will earn approximately $31.4 million for the upcoming season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, unless the Cowboys opt to again place the franchise tag on him, a move that would count over $37 million toward the 2021 salary cap. The two-time Pro Bowl selection is one of 10 players who have signed their franchise tenders but were unable to come to terms on multiyear contracts with their respective teams. Two others, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, have yet to sign their offers.IYER: Titans appear to get a good deal on HenryThe Titans were able to agree to a reported four-year, $50 million contract with 2019 NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry just prior to the deadline, while the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs locked up defensive lineman Chris Jones with a four-year, $85 million deal on Tuesday.Along with Prescott, Buccaneers pass-rusher Shaq Barrett, Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, Vikings safety Anthony Harris, Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, Ravens pass rusher Matthew Judon, Washington guard Brandon Scherff, Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Patriots guard Joe Thuney and Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams will play under the franchise tag in 2020.Ngakoue has publicly declared his intention to no longer play for the Jaguars and has requested a trade, though the team has yet to find a suitable offer for the standout edge rusher.MORE: NASCAR champion/Eagles fan assesses Prescott’s playNFL.com reported Wednesday that Prescott received a multiyear offer from the Cowboys shortly before the deadline that would have paid him between $33 million and $35 million annually and included over $100 million in guaranteed money. Further reporting said an agreement could not be reached in time. Prescott, 26, is coming off a stellar 2019 season in which he established career highs with 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes while directing the NFL’s top-ranked offense in terms of total yards per game.Negotiations between the Cowboys and Prescott were likely impacted by the recent 10-year, $450 million extension the Chiefs gave to 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes that reset the top end of the quarterback pay scale.Judon is currently slated to earn the second-highest salary among the group unable to land multiyear deals after he and the Ravens agreed to a $16.808 million offer, a compromise between the tender rate for a defensive end and linebacker. Barrett, Dupree and Williams have filed grievances arguing they should be designated as defensive ends, which carries a higher tender value than linebackers or defensive tackles.