11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can’t Explain

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Science is amazing, is it not? It can tell us the size of planets light years away. It can explain the eating habits of giant dinosaurs that have been extinct for millions of years. Science can even tell us all about particles that are far too small to see with the human eye.

But there are a lot of things — many every day things, in fact — that science cannot explain.

How do magnets work? Why does watching someone yawn make you have to yawn? Why do dogs poop the way they do? These are the questions that scientists can’t quite answer…yet.

UP FIRST: Why does lightning happen?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Why Does Lightning Happen?

Some 44,000 thunderstorms rage worldwide each day, delivering as many as 100 lightning bolts to the ground every second. That’s a lot of lightning. So much, in fact, that one would be forgiven for assuming that scientists understand why lightning happens — but they don’t.

For all we know, lightning might as well come from Zeus. Counting Ben Franklin’s kite-and-key experiment as the starting point, 250 years of scientific investigation have yet to get to grips with how lightning works.

Atmospheric scientists have a basic sketch of the process. Positive electric charges build up at the tops of thunderclouds and negative charges build up at the bottoms (except for perplexing patches of positive charges often detected in the center-bottom). Electrical attraction between these opposite charges, and between the negative charges at the bottom of the cloud and positive charges that accumulate on the ground below, eventually grow strong enough to overcome the air’s resistance to electrical flow.

Like a herd of elephants wading across a river, negative charges venture down from the bottom of the cloud into the sky below and move haltingly toward the ground, forming an invisible, conductive path called a “step leader.” The charges’ path eventually connects to similar “streamers” of positive charges surging up from the ground, completing an electrical circuit and enabling negative charges to pour from the cloud to the ground along the circuit they have formed. This sudden, enormous electric discharge is the flash of lightning.

But as for how all that happens — well, it just doesn’t make much physical sense. There are three big questions needing answers, said Joe Dwyer, a leading lightning physicist based at the Florida Institute of Technology. “First, how do you actually charge up a thundercloud?” Dwyer said. A mix of water and ice is needed to provide atoms that can acquire charge, and updrafts are required to move the charged particles around. The rest of the details are hazy.

The second point of confusion is called the “lightning initiation problem.” So the question is, “How do you get a spark going inside a thunderstorm? The electric fields never seem to be big enough inside the storm to generate a spark. So how does that spark get going? This is a very active area of research,” Dwyer said.

And once the spark gets going, the final question is how it keeps going. “After you get it started, how does lightning propagate for tens of miles through clouds?” Dwyer said. “That’s an amazing thing — how do you turn air from being an insulator into a conductor?”

UP NEXT: How do magnets work?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

How Do Magnets Work?

Sure, they’re run-of-the-mill household items, but that doesn’t mean magnets are easy to understand. While physicists have some understanding of how magnets function, the phenomena that underlie magnetism continue to elude scientific explanation.

Large-scale magnetism, like the kind observed in bar magnets, results from magnetic fields that naturally radiate from the electrically charged particles that make up atoms, said Jearl Walker, a physics professor at Cleveland State University and coauthor of “Fundamentals of Physics” (Wiley, 2007).The most common magnetic fields come from negatively charged particles called electrons.

Normally, in any sample of matter, the magnetic fields of electrons point in different directions, canceling each other out. But when the fields all align in the same direction, like in magnetic metals, an object generates a net magnetic field, Walker told Live Science in 2010.

Every electron generates a magnetic field, but they only generate a net magnetic field when they all line up. Otherwise, the electrons in the human body would cause everyone to stick to the refrigerator whenever they walked by, Walker said.

Currently, physics has two explanations for why magnetic fields align in the same direction: a large-scale theory from classical physics, and a small-scale theory called quantum mechanics.

According to the classical theory, magnetic fields are clouds of energy around magnetic particles that pull in or push away other magnetic objects. But in the quantum mechanics view, electrons emit undetectable, virtual particles that tell other objects to move away or come closer, Walker said.

Although these two theories help scientists understand how magnets behave in almost every circumstance, two important aspects of magnetism remain unexplained: why magnets always have a north and south pole, and why particles emit magnetic fields in the first place.

“We just observe that when you make a charged particle move, it creates a magnetic field and two poles. We don’t really know why. It’s just a feature of the universe, and the mathematical explanations are just attempts of getting through the ‘homework assignment’ of nature and getting the answers,” Walker said.

UP NEXT: Why do dogs face north or south to poop?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Why Do Dogs Face North or South to Poop?

Did you know that dogs prefer to poop while aligned with the north-south axis of the Earth’s magnetic field? Because they totally do, but scientists can’t really explain why.

Research conducted in 2014 found that dogs preferred to poop when their bodies were aligned in a north-south direction, as determined by the geomagnetic field. (True north, which is determined by the position of the poles, is slightly different from magnetic north.)

And while dogs of both sexes faced north or south while defecating, only females preferred to urinate in a north or south direction — males didn’t show much preference while urinating.

This odd finding joins a long and growing list of research showing that animals — both wild and domesticated — can sense the Earth’s geomagnetic field and coordinate their behavior with it.

A 2008 analysis of Google Earth satellite images revealed that herds of cattle worldwide tend to stand in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines when grazing, regardless of wind direction or time of day. The same behavior was seen in two different species of deer.

Birds also use magnetic fields to migrate thousands of miles, some research suggests. A 2013 report found that pigeons are equipped with microscopic balls of iron in their inner ears, which may account for the animals’ sensitivity to the geomagnetic field.

Humans, too, might possess a similar ability — a protein in the human retina may help people sense magnetic fields, though the research into this and many other related geomagnetic phenomena is preliminary and therefore remains inconclusive.

But why do animals of all shapes and sizes seem to be ruled by Earth’s geomagnetic field? The answer remains elusive, the scientists admitted.

“It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it ‘consciously’ (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial[ly] perceived) … or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they ‘feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable’ in a certain direction),” the study authors wrote.

The researchers also found that when the Earth’s magnetic field was in a state of flux — it changes during solar flares, geomagnetic storms and other events — the dogs’ north-south orientation was less predictable. Only when the magnetic field was calm did researchers reliably observe the north-south orientation.

Further research is needed to determine how and why dogs and other animals sense and use the planet’s magnetic field every single day.


: What causes gravity?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

What Causes Gravity? 

You know gravity? That invisible force holding you (and every person and object around you) to the Earth? Well, you might learn all about gravity in a science classroom, but scientists still aren’t sure what causes it.

In the deepest depths of space, gravity tugs on matter to form galaxies, stars, black holes and the like. In spite of its infinite reach, however, gravity is the wimpiest of all forces in the universe.

This weakness also makes it the most mysterious, as scientists can’t measure it in the laboratory as easily as they can detect its effects on planets and stars. The repulsion between two positively charged protons, for example, is 10^36 times stronger than gravity’s pull between them—that’s 1 followed by 36 zeros less macho.

Physicists want to squeeze little old gravity into the standard model—the crown-jewel theory of modern physics that explains three other fundamental forces in physics—but none has succeeded. Like a runt at a pool party, gravity just doesn’t fit in when using Einstein’s theory of relativity, which explains gravity only on large scales

“Gravity is completely different from the other forces described by the standard model,” said Mark Jackson, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab in Illinois. “When you do some calculations about small gravitational interactions, you get stupid answers. The math simply doesn’t work.”

The numbers may not jibe, but physicists have a hunch about gravity’s unseen gremlins: Tiny, massless particles called gravitons that emanate gravitational fields.

Each hypothetical bit tugs on every piece of matter in the universe, as fast as the speed of light permits. Yet if they are so common in the universe, why haven’t physicists found them?

“We can detect massless particles such as photons just fine, but gravitons elude us because they interact so weakly with matter,” said Michael Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago. “We simply don’t know how to detect one.”

Turner, however, isn’t despondent about humanity’s quest for gravitons. He thinks we’ll eventually ensnare a few of the pesky particles hiding in the shadows of more easily detected particles.

“What it really comes down to is technology,” Turner said.

UP NEXT: Why do cats purr?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Why Do Cats Purr?

From house cats to cheetahs, most felid species produce a “purr-like” vocalization, according to University of California, Davis, veterinary professor Leslie Lyons. Domestic cats purr in a range of situations — while they nurse their kittens, when they are pet by humans, and even when they’re stressed out. Yes, you read right: Cats purr both when they’re happy and when they’re miserable. That has made figuring out the function of purring an uphill struggle for scientists.

One possibility is that it promotes bone growth, Lyons explained in Scientific American. Purring contains sound frequencies within the 25- to 150-Hertz range, and sounds in this range have been shown to improve bone density and promote healing. Because cats conserve energy by sleeping for long periods of time, purring may be a low-energy mechanism to keep muscles and bones healthy without actually using them.

Of course, cats purr even when they aren’t injured. Many domestic cats purr to indicate hunger, for example. A recent study out of the U.K. shows that some cats have even developed a special purr to ask their owners for food. This “solicitous purr” incorporates cries with similar frequencies as those of human babies. These conniving kitties have tapped into their owners’ psyches — all for more kibble.

However, this study doesn’t explain why cats purr in all of the situations they do. And scientists aren’t likely to find out more answers until cats learn to speak human…

UP NEXT: How does the brain work?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

How Does the Brain Work?

With billions of neurons, each with thousands of connections, the human brain is a complex, and yes congested, mental freeway. Neurologists and cognitive scientists nowadays are probing how the mind gives rise to thoughts, actions, emotions and ultimately consciousness, but they still don’t have all the answers.

The complex machine is difficult for even the brainiest of scientists to wrap their heads around. What makes the brain such a tough nut to crack?

According to Scott Huettel of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University, the standard answer to this question goes something like: “The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe … complexity makes simple models impractical and accurate models impossible to comprehend.”

While that stock answer is correct, Huettel said, it’s incomplete. The real snag in brain science is one of navel gazing. Huettel and other neuroscientists can’t step outside of their own brains (and experiences) when studying the brain itself.

“A more pernicious factor is that we all think we understand the brain—at least our own—through our experiences. But our own subjective experience is a very poor guide to how the brain works,” Huettel told Live Science in 2007.

Scientists have made some progress in taking an objective, direct “look” at the human brain.

In recent years, brain-imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have allowed scientists to observe the brain in action and determine how groups of neurons function.

They have pinpointed hubs in the brain that are responsible for certain tasks, such as fleeing a dangerous situation, processing visual information, making those sweet dreams and storing long-term memories. But understanding the mechanics of how neuronal networks collaborate to allow such tasks has remained more elusive.

The prized puzzle in brain research is arguably the idea of consciousness. When you look at a painting, for instance, you are aware of it and your mind processes its colors and shapes. At the same time, the visual impression could stir up emotions and thoughts. This subjective awareness and perception is consciousness.

Many scientists consider consciousness the delineation between humans and other animals.

So rather than cognitive processes directly leading to behaviors (unbeknownst to us), we are aware of the thinking. We even know that we know!

If this mind bender is ever solved, an equally perplexing question would arise, according to neuroscientists: Why? Why does awareness exist at all?

UP NEXT: How do bicycles work?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

How Do Bicycles Work?

The brain is a super complicated organ, so it kind of makes sense that scientists haven’t yet learned all its secrets. But surely those same scientists have figured out something as simple as a bicycle, right? Wrong: The brainiacs of the world still aren’t sure how bicycles work.

Bikes can stay upright all by themselves, as long as they’re moving forward; it’s because any time a moving bike starts to lean, its steering axis (the pole attached to the handlebars) turns the other way, tilting the bike upright again. This restorative effect was long believed to result from a law of physics called the conservation of angular momentum: When the bike wobbles, the axis perpendicular to its wheels’ spinning direction threatens to change, and the bike self-corrects in order to “conserve” the direction of that axis. In other words, the bike is a gyroscope. Additionally, the “trail effect” was thought to help keep bikes stable: Because the steering axis hits the ground slightly in front of the ground contact point of the front wheel, the wheel is forced to trail the steering of the handlebars.

But recently, a group of engineers led by Andy Ruina of Cornell University upturned this theory of bicycle locomotion. Their investigation, detailed in a 2011 article in the journal Science, showed that neither gyroscopic nor trail effects were necessary for a bike to work. To prove it, the engineers built a custom bicycle, which could take advantage of neither effect. The bike was designed so that each of its wheels rotated a second wheel above it in the opposite direction. That way, the spinning of the wheels canceled out and the bike’s total angular momentum was zero, erasing the influence of gyroscopic effects on the bike’s stability. The custom bike’s ground contact point was also positioned in front of its steering axis, destroying the trail effect. And yet, the bike worked.

The engineers know why: they added masses to the bike in choice places to enable gravity to cause the bike to self-steer. But the work showed there are many effects that go into the stability of bicycles — including gyroscopic and trail effects in the case of bikes that have them — that interact in extremely complex ways.

“The complex interactions have not been worked out. My suspicion is that we will never come to grips with them, but I don’t know that for sure,” Ruina told Live Science.

UP NEXT: Why are moths drawn to light?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Why Are Moths Drawn to Light?

“Look! That moth just flew straight into that light bulb and died!” said no one ever. We see it happen so often that it’s more likely to invoke yawns than discussion. But, surprisingly, the reason for these insects’ suicidal nosedives remains a total mystery. Science’s best guesses about why they do it aren’t even very good.

Some entomologists believe moths zoom toward artificial light sources because the lights throw off their internal navigation systems. In a behavior called transverse orientation, some insects navigate by flying at a constant angle relative to a distant light source, such as the moon. But around man-made lights, such as a campfire or your porch light, the angle to the light source changes as a moth flies by. Jerry Powell, an entomologist at the University of California, Berkeley said the thinking is that moths “become dazzled by the light and are somehow attracted.”

But this theory runs into two major stumbling blocks, Powell explained: First, campfires have been around for about 400,000 years. Wouldn’t natural selection have killed off moths whose instinct tells them to go kamikaze every time they feel blinded by the light? Secondly, moths may not even use transverse navigation; more than half of the species don’t even migrate.

Alternate theories are riddled with holes, too. For example, one holds that male moths are attracted to infrared light because it contains a few of the same light frequencies given off by female moths’ pheromones, or sex hormones, which glow very faintly. In short, male moths could be drawn to candles under the false belief that the lights are females sending out sex signals.  However, Powell points out that moths are more attracted to ultraviolet light than infrared light, and UV doesn’t look a bit like glowing pheromones.

Moth deaths: not as yawn-inducing as you might think.

UP NEXT: Why are there lefties (and righties)?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Why Are There Lefties (& Righties)?

One-tenth of people have better motor dexterity using their left limbs than their right. No one knows why these lefties exist. And no one knows why righties exist either, for that matter. Why do people have just one hand with top-notch motor skills, instead of a double dose of dexterity?

One theory holds that handedness results from having more intricate wiring on the side of the brain involved in speech (which also requires fine motor skills). Because the speech center usually sits in the brain’s left hemisphere — the side wired to the right side of the body — the right hand ends up dominant in most people. As for why the speech center usually (but not always) ends up in the left side of the brain, that’s still an open question.

The theory about the speech center controlling handedness gets a big blow from the fact that not all right-handed people control speech in the left hemisphere, while only half of lefties do. So, what explains those lefties whose speech centers reside in the left sides of their brains? It’s all very perplexing.

Research published in 2013 suggests that genes that play a role in the orientation of internal organs may also affect whether someone is right- or left-handed.

The study, published today (Sept. 12) in the journal PLOS Genetics, suggest those genes may also play a role in the brain, thereby affecting people’s handedness.

Still, the findings can’t yet explain the mystery of why a minority of people are left-handed because each gene only plays a tiny role in people’s handedness.

UP NEXT: Is yawning contagious?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

Are Yawns Contagious?

In 2012, Austrian researchers won an Ig Nobel Prize for their discovery that yawns are not contagious among red-footed tortoises.

We know so much about tortoises, but human yawning? Still an enigma. The sight of a person’s gaping jaws, squinting eyes and deep inhalation “hijacks your body and induces you to replicate the observed behavior,” writes the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, psychologist Robert Provine in his new book, “Curious Behavior” (Belknap Press, 2012). But why?

Preliminary brain-scan data indicate that regions of the brain associated with theory of mind (the ability to attribute mental states and feelings to oneself and others) and self-processing become active when people observe other people yawning. Many autistic and schizophrenic people do not exhibit this brain activity, and they do not “catch” yawns. These clues suggest contagious yawning reflects an ability to empathize and form normal emotional ties with others, Provine explained.

But why should our social connections with one another circulate through yawning, as opposed to hiccupping or passing gas? No one knows for sure, and that’s because no one knows quite why we yawn. Embryos do it to sculpt the hinge of their jaws. Fully formed people do it when we’re sleepy and bored. But how does yawning ameliorate these complaints?

UP NEXT: What causes static electricity?

11 Totally Normal Things That Science Can't Explain

What Causes Static Electricity?

Static shocks are as mysterious as they are unpleasant. What we know is this: They occur when an excess of either positive or negative charge builds up on the surface of your body, discharging when you touch something and leaving you neutralized. Alternatively, they can occur when static electricity builds up on something else — a doorknob, say — which you then touch. In that case, you are the excess charge’s exit route.

But why all the buildup? It’s unclear. The traditional explanation says that when two objects rub together, friction knocks the electrons off the atoms in one of the objects, and these then move onto the second, leaving the first object with an excess of positively charged atoms and giving the second an excess of negative electrons. Both objects (your hair and a wool hat, say) will then be statically charged. But why do electrons flow from one object to the other, instead of moving in both directions?

This has never been satisfactorily explained, and a study by Northwestern University researcher Bartosz Grzybowski found reason to doubt the whole story. As detailed last year in the journal Science, Grzybowski found that patches of both excess positive and excess negative charge exist on statically charged objects. He also found that entire molecules seemed to migrate between objects as they are rubbed together, not just electrons. What generates this mosaic of charges and migration of material has yet to be determined, but clearly, the explanation of static is changing.

Dark Matter May Be Made of Primordial Black Holes

Dark Matter May Be Made of Primordial Black Holes

This image shows the infrared background, or the infrared light not associated with known sources. It may be left over from the universe’s first luminous objects, including stars.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (Goddard)

Could dark matter — the elusive substance that composes most of the material universe — be made of black holes? Some astronomers are beginning to think this tantalizing possibility is more and more likely.

Alexander Kashlinsky, an astronomer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, thinks that black holes that formed soon after the Big Bang can perfectly explain the observations of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time, made by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) last year, as well as previous observations of the early universe.

If Kashlinsky is correct, then dark matter might be composed of these primordial black holes, all galaxies might be embedded within a vast sphere of black holes, and the early universe might have evolved differently than scientists had thought. [Watch the LIGO documentary "LIGO, A Passion for Understanding"]

In 2005, Kashlinsky and his colleagues used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to explore the background glow of infrared light found in the universe. Because light from cosmic objects takes a finite amount of time to travel through space, astronomers on Earth see distant objects the way those objects looked in the past. Kashlinsky and his group wanted to look toward the early universe, beyond where telescopes can pick up individual galaxies.

“Suppose you look at New York [City] from afar,” Kashlinsky told “You cannot see individual lampposts or buildings, but you can see this cumulative diffuse light that they produce.”

When the researchers removed all of the light from the known galaxies throughout the universe, they could still detect excess light — the background glow from the first sources to illuminate the universe more than 13 billion years ago.

Then, in 2013, Kashlinsky and his colleagues used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to explore the background glow in a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum: X-rays. To their surprise, the patterns within the infrared background perfectly matched the patterns within the X-ray background.

“And the only sources that would be able to produce this in both infrared and X-rays are black holes,” Kashlinsky said. “It never crossed my mind at that time that these could be primordial black holes.”

Then, there was the LIGO detection. On Sept. 14, 2015, the observatory made the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves — cosmic ripples in the fabric of space-time itself — that had been produced by a pair of colliding black holes. It marked the beginning of a new era of discovery — one in which astronomers could collect these unique signals created by powerful astronomical events and, for the first time, directly detect black holes (as opposed to seeing the illuminated material around black holes).

But Simeon Bird, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, speculated that the discovery could be even more significant. Bird suggested that the two black holes detected by LIGO could be primordial.

An image of the sky in infrared light, taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The image shows the same patch of sky as seen in the image above, but without the known infrared sources removed.

An image of the sky in infrared light, taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The image shows the same patch of sky as seen in the image above, but without the known infrared sources removed.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Kashlinsky (Goddard)

Primordial black holes aren’t formed from the collapse of a dead star (the more commonly-known mechanism for black hole formation that takes place relatively late in the universe’s history). Instead, primordial black holes formed soon after the Big Bang when sound waves radiated throughout the universe. Areas where those sound waves are densest could have collapsed to form the black holes.

If that thought makes your head spin a little, just think about spinning pizza dough into a disc. “After a while, you will notice it has these holes in the texture of the pizza dough,” Kashlinsky said. “It’s the same with space-time,” except those holes are primordial black holes.

For now, these primordial black holes remain hypothetical. But Kashlinsky, impressed by Bird’s suggestion, took the hypothesis a step further. In his new paper, published May 24 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Kashlinsky looked at the consequences that these primordial black holes would have had on the evolution of the cosmos. (Bird is not the first scientist to suggest thatdark matter might be made of black holes, although not all of those ideas involve primordial black holes.)

For the first 500 million years of the universe’s history, dark matter collapsed into clumps called halos, which provided the gravitational seeds that would later enable matter to accumulate and form the first stars and galaxies, Kashlinsky said. But if that dark matter was composed of primordial black holes, this process would have created far more halos.

Kashlinsky thinks this process could explain both the excess cosmic infrared background and the excess cosmic X-ray background that he and his colleagues observed several years ago.

The infrared glow would come from the earliest stars that formed within the halos. Although stars radiate optical and ultraviolet light, the expansion of the universe naturally stretches that light so that the first stars will appear, to astronomers on Earth, to give off an infrared light. Even without the extra halos, early stars could generate an infrared glow, but not to the extent that Kashlinsky and his colleagues observed, he said.

The gas that created those stars would also have fallen onto the primordial black holes, heating up to high enough temperatures that it would have sparked X-rays. While the cosmic infrared background can be explained — albeit to a lesser extent — without the addition of primordial black holes, the cosmic x-ray background cannot. The primordial black holes connect the two observations together.

“Everything fits together remarkably well,” Kashlinsky said.

Occasionally, those primordial black holes would have come close enough to start orbiting each other (what’s known as a binary system). Over time, those two black holes would spiral together and radiate gravitational waves, potentially like the ones detected by LIGO. But more observations of black holes are needed to determine if these objects are primordial, or formed later in the universe’s history.

David Rockefeller Says Conspiracy About ‘One World Order’ Is True

David Rockefeller Says Conspiracy About ‘One World Order’ Is True

David Rockefeller is a part of American history and the only billionaire in the world who is over 100 years old. The richest oldest man on the planet is due to turn 101 in June.

He is part of a family dynasty whose name is associated with America and has become legend. His grandfather John D Rockefeller who died in 1937 was the founder of Standard Oil and the world’s richest individual.

The name Rockefeller has been associated with wealth, power, politics, finance, diplomacy, philanthropy, marijuana prohibition, aliens, UFO’s and conspiracy theories.

One such conspiracy theory is the creation of a ‘one world order’, according to which a group of ‘Elites’, including David, are milking the system for their own benefits and the benefit of their friends and fellow conspirators against the interest of the United States.

They have been accused of setting up institutions such as the ‘Trilateral Commission’ and the ‘Bilderberg Group’ among others to advance their interests nationally and globally.

Their aim is to create an international world order under a single umbrella, to deal with global issues, initiated and controlled by western countries.

Obviously such a hefty vision could be seen as a conspiracy, by the powerful and the well connected, to dominate and manipulate the weak and the fragmented people of the world.

David Rockefeller, the last former member of the unofficial royal family of America, has admitted in an article by The Independent, that if he is accused of such conspiracies to bring about a ‘one world order’, then he is proud and guilty as charged.

He says: “Some even believe [the Rockefellers] are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterising my family and me as ‘internationalists’ conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I’m proud of it.”

Although the name ‘Rockefeller’ still retains its resonance, its influence is fading. Being a Rockefeller these days ain’t what it used to be.


David, patriarch of that family and of a vanished Wasp establishment, celebrated his 100th birthday.

These days he is pretty low in the billionaires’ pecking order: 603rd according to Forbes magazine, the chronicler of such matters, with a fortune of “only” $3.2bn.

Even the family’s total wealth, much of it locked away in trusts, is put at a relatively modest $10bn – enough to buy fleets of yachts, private jets and a couple of mansions in Belgravia, but not a patch on his grandfather John D Rockefeller.

When he died in 1937, “Senior”, the founder of Standard Oil and a contender for the world’s richest ever individual, was reckoned to have assets equal to 1.5 per cent of US GDP, about $250bn today. Compared with that, Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are distant also-rans.

From almost the moment of his birth, on 12 June 1915, in the embers of the Gilded Age, David was the favourite grandchild: the one, according to “Senior”, who was “most like myself”.

The others of John Rockefeller Jnr’s six children are now long gone. Winthrop, a former governor of Arkansas, died in 1973. Abigail, David’s only sister, died in 1976, followed by John in 1978, and by Nelson – his most famous sibling, governor of New York and Gerald Ford’s vice-president – in 1979.

Laurance Rockefeller, an airline magnate, survived until 2004. David is the last one left. And in his day, Nelson notwithstanding, he was probably the most influential of them all.

David Rockfeller flourished at the intersection of business, high finance and international diplomacy. He was never elected to any political office, but in his heyday, in the 1970s and 1980s, he seemed to know every politician who mattered on the planet.

Part of that went with the job of chairman of Chase Manhattan, which David sought to make a global bank. Part was due to merely being a Rockfeller.

“Having the name can be an advantage,” he once said. “I’m more apt to get through on the telephone to somebody.” Part perhaps also reflected his much-praised work in US wartime intelligence in Europe, between 1943 and 1945.

All of this made him a networker of epic proportions (his Rolodex, in that pre-smartphone age, read like a global Who’s Who); not surprisingly the journalist and former LBJ aide Bill Moyers once called him “the unelected but indisputable chairman of the American establishment”.

From the outset, too, David was a committed internationalist. To that end, in 1973 he set up the Trilateral Commission, featuring the West’s great and good, and soon found himself the butt of conspiracy theorists around the globe.

Today, there’s much hyperventilating about the secretiveness of the Bilderberg Group (another collection of worthies favoured by David). But that fuss is nothing compared with the suspicions once aroused by the Trilateral Commission.

For the right, it was a cabal operating as a global government; the left saw an unaccountable rich man’s club, promoting free markets to the exclusion of all else. Senior’s favourite grandson was accused of being the plotter in chief – and he positively revelled in the charges.

“Some even believe [the Rockefellers] are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterising my family and me as ‘internationalists’ conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I’m proud of it.”

But the globetrotting chumminess had its downside. David Rockefeller, it was said, never met a dictator he disliked.

More specifically, he worked with his friend Henry Kissinger to persuade President Carter to allow another friend, the deposed Shah of Iran, into the US in 1979 to be treated for cancer.

The result was the Tehran embassy hostage-taking and a rupture with Iran that endures to this day.

Most fascinating perhaps is David’s relationship with the domineering Nelson. His elder sibling was tempestuous, ferociously ambitious and a compulsive womaniser. As a child, David was reserved and solitary, with an passion for collecting beetles.

As an adult, he was suave and non-confrontational, a man who loathed scenes above all else. Not surprisingly, the pair grew apart, especially after Nelson’s divorce and remarriage to his mistress Happy Murphy in 1963, a scandal that may have scuppered his presidential aspirations.

Gradually, starting even before Nelson’s death, David became the family head, his image further burnished by philanthropy: over his life, he is reckoned to have given away $900m, including $79m last year alone. In 2002, he became the first Rockfeller to write an autobiography, entitled, simply, Memoirs.

Ultimately, David Rockefeller is a reminder of how even the mightiest dynasties fade. Before the Kennedys, the Rockefellers were America’s unofficial royal family.

But the last Rockefeller to hold public office, David’s nephew Jay, retired last year from his Senate seat in West Virginia. The Kennedys are increasingly history, and, one day, the Bushes and Clintons will be as well.

The younger Rockefellers have gone their own way. Most have to make their own living; some have even changed their names. Being a Rockefeller ain’t what it used to be.

Their political relevance, however, persists. David, like Nelson, was a “Rockefeller Republican”, a well-born moderate endowed with a deep sense of noblesse oblige.

If the GOP is to recapture the White House in 2016, a dash of inclusive Rockefeller Republicanism is essential. And nothing, surely, would more delight the oldest billionaire on earth.

Your Apple Watch can run Windows 95, but don’t bother

Watch the video here ->

If you’re the sort of person that bought into Apple’s device ecosystem for the simplicity its devices seem to offer, there’s almost no chance you should bother going ahead with the same hack as Nick Li, who got Windows 95 to run on the device.

Li says that unlike previous efforts to get the Mini vMac emulator working on the device, he wanted the Windows OS to actually run and be bootable. And it is, but it takes an hour to get there.

So. Much. Tech.

Some of the biggest names in tech are coming to TNW Conference in Amsterdam this May.

Obviously, with Windows 95 not built for touch input, a little code-wrangling is also required. Li says that it’s possible to patch some files within a WatchKit app in order to load your own app code.

If you do decide to go ahead with this hack for yourself – again, really don’t bother – you’ll also need some way of keeping the screen awake during that hour-long boot. Li glued a motor to a small prodding device to ensure it didn’t nap.

That’s a whole lot of effort to undertake to see Clippy once again.

I installed Windows 95 on my Apple Watch on TeniDigi – Medium


Time Travel Simulation Resolves “Grandfather Paradox”

Scientific American


What would happen to you if you went back in time and killed your grandfather? A model using photons reveals that quantum mechanics can solve the quandary—and even foil quantum cryptography

Wormhole Created in Lab Makes Invisible Magnetic Field: Amazing!

magnetic wormhole

A new device can cloak a magnetic field so that it invisible from the outside. Here, a picture of how the wormhole would work.
Credit: ordi Prat-Camps and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Ripped from the pages of a sci-fi novel, physicists have crafted a wormhole that tunnels a magnetic field through space.

“This device can transmit the magnetic field from one point in space to another point, through a path that is magnetically invisible,” said study co-author Jordi Prat-Camps, a doctoral candidate in physics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. “From a magnetic point of view, this device acts like a wormhole, as if the magnetic field was transferred through an extra special dimension.”

The idea of a wormhole comes from Albert Einstein’s theories. In 1935, Einstein and colleague Nathan Rosen realized that the general theory of relativity allowed for the existence of bridges that could link two different points in space-time. Theoretically these Einstein-Rosen bridges, or wormholes, could allow something to tunnel instantly between great distances (though the tunnels in this theory are extremely tiny, so ordinarily wouldn’t fit a space traveler). So far, no one has found evidence that space-time wormholes actually exist. [Science Fact or Fiction? The Plausibility of 10 Sci-Fi Concepts]

The new wormhole isn’t a space-time wormhole per se, but is instead a realization of a futuristic “invisibility cloak” first proposed in 2007 in the journal Physical Review Letters. This type of wormhole would hide electromagnetic waves from view from the outside. The trouble was, to make the method work for light required materials that are extremely impractical and difficult to work with, Prat said.

Magnetic wormhole

But it turned out the materials to make a magnetic wormhole already exist and are much simpler to come by. In particular, superconductors, which can carry high levels of current, or charged particles, expel magnetic field lines from their interiors, essentially bending or distorting these lines. This essentially allows the magnetic field to do something different from its surrounding 3D environment, which is the first step in concealing the disturbance in a magnetic field.

So the team designed a three-layer object, consisting of two concentric spheres with an interior spiral-cylinder. The interior layer essentially transmitted a magnetic field from one end to the other, while the other two layers acted to conceal the field’s existence.

The inner cylinder was made of a ferromagnetic mu-metal. Ferromagnetic materials exhibit the strongest form of magnetism, while mu-metals are highly permeable and are often used for shielding electronic devices.

A thin shell made up of a high-temperature superconducting material called yttrium barium copper oxide lined the inner cylinder, bending the magnetic field that traveled through the interior.

magnetic wormhole device
A new device has created a magnetic wormhole, in which a magnetic field enters one end and seems to pop out of nowhere on the other side.
Credit: Jordi Prat-Camps and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The final shell was made of another mu-metal, but composed of 150 pieces cut and placed to perfectly cancel out the bending of the magnetic field by the superconducting shell. The whole device was placed in a liquid-nitrogen bath (high-temperature superconductors require the low temperatures of liquid nitrogen to work).

Normally, magnetic field lines radiate out from a certain location and decay over time, but the presence of the magnetic field should be detectable from points all around it. However, the new magnetic wormhole funnels the magnetic field from one side of the cylinder to another so that it is “invisible” while in transit, seeming to pop out of nowhere on the exit side of the tube, the researchers report today (Aug. 20) in the journal Scientific Reports.

“From a magnetic point of view, you have the magnetic field from the magnet disappearing at one end of the wormhole and appearing again at the other end of the wormhole,” Prat told Live Science.

Broader applications

There’s no way to know if similar magneticwormholes lurk in space, but the technology could have applications on Earth, Prat said. For instance, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines use a giant magnet and require people to be in a tightly enclosed central tube for diagnostic imaging.

But if a device could funnel a magnetic field from one spot to the other, it would be possible to take pictures of the body with the strong magnet placed far away, freeing people from the claustrophobic environment of an MRI machine, Prat said.

To do that, the researchers would need to modify the shape of their magnetic wormhole device. A sphere is the simplest shape to model, but a cylindrical outer shell would be the most useful, Prat said.

“If you want to apply this to medical techniques or medical equipment, for sure you will be interested in directing toward any given direction,” Prat said. “A spherical shape is not the most practical geometry.”

9 Facts About Computer Security That Experts Wish You Knew

9 Facts About Computer Security That Experts Wish You Knew


Every day, you hear about security flaws, viruses, and evil hacker gangs that could leave you destitute — or, worse, bring your country to its knees. But what’s the truth about these digital dangers? We asked computer security experts to separate the myths from the facts. Here’s what they said.

1. Having a strong password actually can prevent most attacks

Yahoo’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos has spent most of his career finding security vulnerabilities and figuring out how attackers might try to exploit software flaws. He’s seen everything from the most devious hacks to the simplest social engineering scams. And in all that time, he’s found that there are two simple solutions for the vast majority of users: strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Stamos says that the biggest problem is that the media focuses on stories about the deepest and most complicated hacks, leaving users feeling like there’s nothing they can do to defend themselves. But that’s just not true. He told me via email:

I’ve noticed a lot of nihilism in the media, security industry and general public since the Snowden docs came out. This generally expresses itself as people throwing up their hands and saying “there is nothing we can do to be safe”. While it’s true that there is little most people can do when facing a top-tier intelligence apparatus with the ability to rewrite hard drive firmware, this should not dissuade users from doing what they can to protect themselves from more likely threats and security professionals from building usable protections for realistic adversaries.

Users can protect themselves against the most likely and pernicious threat actors by taking two simple steps:

1) Installing a password manager and using it to create unique passwords for every service they use.

2) Activating second-factor authentication options (usually via text messages) on their email and social networking accounts.

The latter is especially important since attackers love to take over the email and social accounts of millions of people and then automatically use them to pivot to other accounts or to gather data on which accounts belong to high-value targets.

So I would really like the media to stop spreading the idea that just because incredible feats are possible on the high-end of the threat spectrum that it isn’t possible to keep yourself safe in the vast majority of scenarios.

Adam J. O’Donnell, a Principal Engineer with Cisco’s Advanced Malware Protection group, amplified Stamos’ basic advice:

Oh, and my advice for the average person: Make good backups and test them. Use a password vault and a different password on every website.

Yep, having a good password is easy — and it’s still the best thing you can do.

2. Just because a device is new does not mean it’s safe

When you unwrap the box on your new phone, tablet or laptop, it smells like fresh plastic and the batteries work like a dream. But that doesn’t mean your computer isn’t already infected with malware and riddled with security vulnerabilities.

I heard this from many of the security experts I interviewed. Eleanor Saitta is the technical director for the International Modern Media Institute, and has worked for over a decade advising governments and corporations about computer security issues. She believes that one of the most pernicious myths about security is that devices begin their lives completely safe, but become less secure as time goes on. That’s simply not true, especially when so many devices come with vulnerable adware like Superfish pre-installed on them (if you recall, Superfish came pre-installed on many Lenovo laptop models):

That’s why the Superfish thing was such a big deal. They built a backdoor in, and they built a really bad, incompetent one, and now it turns out that anybody can walk through.

When you’re relying on code delivered by somebody else, a service online or box that you don’t control, chances are good that it’s not acting in your interest, because it’s trying to sell you. There’s a good chance that it’s already owned or compromised by other people. We don’t have a good way of dealing with trust and managing it right now. And all sorts of people will be using that code.

The other issue, which erupted in the media over the past day with the FREAK attack, is that many machines come pre-installed with backdoors. These are baked in by government request, to make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to track adversaries. But unfortunately, backdoors are also security vulnerabilities that anyone can take advantage of. Says Saitta:

I think one thing that is really important to understand is that if you built a monitoring system into a network like a cell network, or into a crypto system, anybody can get in there. You’ve built a vulnerability into the system, and sure, you can control access a little. But at the end of the day, a backdoor is a backdoor, and anybody can walk through it.

3. Even the very best software has security vulnerabilities

Many of us imagine that sufficiently good software and networks can be completely safe. Because of this attitude, many users get angry when the machines or services they use turn out to be vulnerable to attack. After all, if we can design a safe car, why not a safe phone? Isn’t it just a matter of getting the tech and science right?

But Parisa Tabriz told me via email that you can’t look at information security that way. Tabriz is the engineer who heads Google’s Chrome security team, and she believes that information security is more like medicine — a bit of art and science — rather than pure science. That’s because our technology was built by humans, and is being exploited by humans with very unscientific motivations. She writes:

I think information security is a lot like medicine — it’s both an art and science. Maybe this is because humans have explicitly built technology and the internet. We assume we should be able to built them perfectly, but the complexity of what we’ve built and now hope to secure almost seems impossible. Securing it would require us to have zero bugs, and that means that the economics are not on the side of the defenders. The defenders have to make sure there are zero bugs in all software they use or write (typically many millions of lines of code if you consider the operating system too), whereas the attacker only has to find one bug.

There will always be bugs in software. Some subset of those bugs will have security impact. The challenge is figuring out which ones to spend resources on fixing, and a lot of that is based on presumed threat models that probably would benefit from more insight into people’s motivations, like crime, monitoring, etc.

RAND Corporation computer security researcher Lillian Ablon emailed me to say that there is simply no such thing as a completely secure system. The goal for defenders is to make attacks expensive, rather than impossible:

With enough resources, there is always a way for an attacker to get in. You may be familiar with the phrase “it’s a matter of when, not if,” in relation to a company getting hacked/breached. Instead, the goal of computer security is to make it expensive for the attackers (in money, time, resources, research, etc.).

4. Every website and app should use HTTPS

You’ve heard every rumor there is to hear about HTTPS. It’s slow. It’s only for websites that need to be ultra-secure. It doesn’t really work. All wrong. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Peter Eckersley is a technologist who has been researching the use of HTTPS for several years, and working on the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere project. He says that there’s a dangerous misconception that many websites and apps don’t need HTTPS. He emailed to expand on that:

Another serious misconception is website operators, such as newspapers or advertising networks, thinking “because we don’t process credit card payments, our site doesn’t need to be HTTPS, or our app doesn’t need to use HTTPS”. All sites on the Web need to be HTTPS, because without HTTPS it’s easy for hackers, eavesdroppers, or government surveillance programs to see exactly what people are reading on your site; what data your app is processing; or even to modify or alter that data in malicious ways.

Eckersley has no corporate affiliations (EFF is a nonprofit), and thus no potential conflict of interest when it comes to promoting HTTPS. He’s just interested in user safety.

5. The cloud is not safe — it just creates new security problems

Everything is cloud these days. You keep your email there, along with your photos, your IMs, your medical records, your bank documents, and even your sex life. And it’s actually safer there than you might think. But it creates new security problems you might not have thought about. Security engineer Leigh Honeywell works for a large cloud computing company, and emailed me to explain how the cloud really works. She suggests that you begin thinking about it using a familiar physical metaphor:

Your house is your house, and you know exactly what the security precautions you’ve taken against intruders are – and what the tradeoffs are. Do you have a deadbolt? An alarm system? Are there bars on the windows, or did you decide against those because they would interfere with your decor?

Or do you live in an apartment building where some of those things are managed for you? Maybe there’s a front desk security person, or a key-card access per floor. I once lived in a building where you had to use your card to access individual floors on the elevator! It was pretty annoying, but it was definitely more secure. The security guard will get to know the movement patterns of the residents, will potentially (though not always, of course!) recognize intruders. They have more data than any individual homeowner.

Putting your data in the cloud is sort of like living in that secure apartment building. Except weirder. Honeywell continued:

Cloud services are able to correlate data across their customers, not just look at the ways an individual is being targeted. You may not [control access to the place where] your data is being stored, but there’s someone at the front desk of that building 24/7, and they’re watching the logs and usage patterns as well. It’s a bit like herd immunity. A lot of stuff jumps out at [a defender] immediately: here’s a single IP address logging into a bunch of different accounts, in a completely different country than any of those accounts have been logged into from ever before. Oh, and each of those accounts received a particular file yesterday — maybe that file was malicious, and all of those accounts just got broken into?

But if it’s a more targeted attack, the signs will be more subtle. When you’re trying to defend a cloud system, you’re looking for needles in haystacks, because you just have so much data to handle. There’s lots of hype about “big data” and machine learning right now, but we’re just starting to scratch the surface of finding attackers’ subtle footprints. A skilled attacker will know how to move quietly and not set off the pattern detection systems you put in place.

In other words, some automated attack methods become blatantly obvious in a cloud system. But it also becomes easier to hide. Honeywell says that users need to consider the threats they’re seriously worried about when choosing between a cloud service and a home server:

Cloud services are much more complex systems than, say, a hard drive plugged into your computer, or an email server running in your closet. There are more places that things can go wrong, more moving parts. But there are more people maintaining them too. The question folks should ask themselves is: would I be doing a better job running this myself, or letting someone with more time, money, and expertise do it? Who do you think of when you think about being hacked — is it the NSA, random gamer assholes, an abusive ex-partner? I ran my own email server for many years, and eventually switched to a hosted service. I know folks who work on Gmail and and they do a vastly better job at running email servers than I ever did. There’s also the time tradeoff — running an email server is miserable work! But for some people it’s worth it, though, because NSA surveillance really is something they have worry about.

6. Software updates are crucial for your protection

There are few things more annoying in life than the little pop-up that reminds you that updates are required. Often you have to plug your device in, and the updates can take a really long time. But they are often the only thing that stands between you and being owned up by a bad guy. Cisco’s O’Donnell said:

Those software update messages are [not] there just to annoy you: The frequency of software updates is driven less by new software features and more because of some very obscure software flaw that an attacker can exploit to gain control of your system. These software patches fix issues that were publicly identified and likely used in attacks in the wild. You wouldn’t go for days without cleaning and bandaging a festering wound on your arm, would you? Don’t do that to your computer.

7. Hackers are not criminals

Despite decades of evidence to the contrary, most people think of hackers as the evil adversaries who want nothing more than to steal their digital goods. But hackers can wear white hats as well as black ones — and the white hats break into systems in order to get there before the bad guys do. Once the vulnerabilities have been identified by hackers, they can be patched. Google Chrome’s Tabriz says simply:

Also, hackers are not criminals. Just because someone knows how to break something, doesn’t mean they will use that knowledge to hurt people. A lot of hackers make things more secure.

O’Donnell emphasizes that we need hackers because software alone can’t protect you. Yes, antivirus programs are a good start. But in the end you need security experts like hackers to defend against adversaries who are, after all, human beings:

Security is less about building walls and more about enabling security guards. Defensive tools alone can’t stop a dedicated, well resourced attacker. If someone wants in bad enough, they will buy every security tool the target may have and test their attacks against their simulated version of the target’s network. Combatting this requires not just good tools but good people who know how to use the tools.

RAND’s Ablon adds that malicious hackers are rarely the threat they are cracked up to be. Instead, the threat may come from people you don’t suspect — and their motivations may be far more complicated than mere theft:

A lot of the time an internal employee or insider is just as big of a threat, and could bring a business to its knees – intentionally or inadvertently. Furthermore, there are distinct types of external cyber threat actors (cybercriminals, state-sponsored, hacktivists) with different motivations and capabilities. For example, the cybercriminals who hacked into Target and Anthem had very different motivations, capabilities, etc. than those of the state-sponsored actors who hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment.

8. Cyberattacks and cyberterrorism are exceedingly rare

As many of the experts I talked to said, your biggest threat is somebody breaking into your accounts because you have a crappy password. But that doesn’t stop people from freaking out with fear over “cyberattacks” that are deadly. Ablon says that these kinds of attacks are incredibly unlikely:

Yes, there are ways to hack into a vehicle from anywhere in the world; yes, life-critical medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps often have IP addresses or are enabled with Bluetooth – but often these types of attacks require close access, and exploits that are fairly sophisticated requiring time to develop and implement. That said, we shouldn’t be ignoring the millions of connected devices (Internet of Things) that increase our attack surface.

Basically, many people fear cyberattacks for the same reason they fear serial killers. They are the scariest possible threat. But they are also the least likely.

As for cyberterrorism, Ablon writes simply, “Cyberterrorism (to date) does not exist … what is attributed to cyberterrorism today, is more akin to hacktivism, e.g., gaining access to CENTCOM’s Twitter feed and posting ISIS propaganda.”

9. Darknet and Deepweb are not the same thing

Ablon writes that one of the main problems she has with media coverage of cybercrime is the misuse of the terms “Darknet” and “Deepweb.”

She explains what the terms really mean:

The Deepweb refers to part of the Internet, specifically the world wide web (so anything that starts www) that isn’t indexed by search engines (so can’t be accessed by Google). The Darknet refers to non-“www” networks, where users may need separate software to access them. For example, Silk Road and many illicit markets are hosted on [Deepweb] networks like I2P and Tor.

So get a password vault, use two-factor auth, visit only sites that use HTTPS, and stop worrying about super intricate cyber attacks from the Darknet. And remember, hackers are here to protect you — most of the time, anyway.

A black hole 12 billion times more massive than our Sun has been detected

It’s so big, we need new physics to explain it.

Step aside regular black holes, astronomers have detected an ancient black hole that’s so incredibly massive and luminous, it defies our understanding of the early Universe.

In fact its quasar, the shining object produced by a supermassive black hole, is 420 trillion times more luminous than our Sun – despite forming only around 900 million years after the birth of the Universe. This makes it the brightest object ever spotted in the ancient Universe. It’s so impossibly bright that it’s almost, well impossible.

“How could we have this massive black hole when the universe was so young? We don’t currently have a satisfactory theory to explain it,” the lead researcher, Xue-Bing Wu, from Peking University in China and the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in the US, told Rachel Feltman from The Washington Post.

The quasar, known as SDSS JO100+2802, is located around 12.8 billion light years away from Earth, and was spotted by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, before being verified by three Earth-bound telescopes.

Reporting in Nature, the team explains that for the black hole to reach such a massive size in less than a billion years, it would have been constantly sucking in interstellar mass at its maximum rate. But this doesn’t fit with our current understanding of black hole growth, which states that the process is limited by energy that blasts out of the quasar as the black hole heats up.

Following that hypothesis, and also factoring in the limited amount of matter available in the early Universe, it makes it extremely difficult for scientists to explain how the supermassive black hole exists – and how it came to be 12 billion times more massive than our Sun.

“With this supermassive black hole, very early in the Universe, that theory cannot work,” Fuyan Bian from the Australian National University, who was involved in the research, told Genelle Weule and Stuart Gary for ABC Science. “It’s time for a new hypothesis and for some new physics.”

But even though we’re still not sure how the mega quasar is possible, it’s going to be a useful tool for finding other objects in the Universe.

“This quasar is very unique. Just like the brightest lighthouse in the distant universe, its glowing light will help us probe more about the early Universe,” said Wu in a press release.

Sources: ABC ScienceThe Washington Post

Read this next: The masses of black holes are more predictable than we thought

WATCH: Why do mirrors flip things horizontally (but not vertically)?

When you look in a mirror, you’re looking at a horizontally backwards version of yourself, right? Wrong. As the Physics Girl explains, it’s more complicated than that.

Mirror image is a tricky thing, but it’s pretty clear when you look at words in a reflection, that mirrors flip things horizontally rather than vertically. Or, at least it seems that that’s the case.

For example, when you hold up a sign saying “Food” in the mirror”, it flips reads a backwards “dooF”, but the letters are still the right way up. And why, when you raise your right hand, your mirror-self raise its left hand, but it still moves it up rather than down. How does a mirror know the x direction from the y direction?

In the episode above, the Physics Girl explores what’s going on. Because, you see, the reason that things appear to always be flipped horizontally in the mirror is because we flip them horizontally.

Try holding up that “Food” sign again, but then flip it vertically to face the mirror, and then you’ll see an upside down, but forward facing, “Food” staring back at you.

The reality is that the mirror isn’t flipping things horizontally or vertically at all, it’s actually flipping them along the z direction – the one that points out in 3D from a traditional graph. You can see this illustrated in the video above.

That might sound confusing, because it’s hard for us to visualise the z direction when we’re so used to seeing things along horizontal or vertical axes – and because we’re horizontally symmetrical, we don’t notice that things aren’t truly horizontally flipped when we look in the mirror.

But the Physics Girl does an amazing job of explaining it in the video above with a left-handed glove. To see how it would look in a reflection, you would need to peel that glove off and turn it inside-out. That’s the true mirror image – no horizontal flipping required.

Of course, that doesn’t make much sense until you see it for yourself. So watch the episode and be prepared to never look at your mirror-self the same way again.

Source: Physics Girl