Neighbors from La Vernia to Karnes City reported hearing a loud boom Wednesday afternoon on social media.
While many people are speculating as to what it may have been, right now the loud boom continues to remain a mystery.
Wilson County authorities said they began getting calls into dispatch reporting the boom around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Sisters Bailey and Molly Runty were at home in their home in Adkins when they heard it.
“We were just sitting in the room, and then we just heard it and then I started freaking out,” Bailey said.
The girls described the boom as being so huge that it shook their house.
“I was terrified,” Bailey said.
“She jumped out of her skin,” said her sister.
The family’s home video security captured the moment when the boom startled their dog, Yogi.
“He was barking a lot and ran up to our door because he got freaked out,” Bailey said.
Other people reported their houses shaking and windows fluttering.
Taylor Gault said that, the salon where she works, the floors shook.
“It was so big, it opened our door,” she said. “I thought someone hit the door and hit the wall.”
At another salon, patrons were still talking about what they heard, speculating on what it could have been.
“I was a little alarmed, but I figured, ‘Well, okay, there’s no terrorist attack,’ why would they want to blow up La Vernia?,” said a patron who only identified herself as Karen.
Neighbors in La Vernia said there are a lot of theories about the boom, but nothing has yet been confirmed.
“The officials can’t tell you what it is, I went as far as to call the city council,” Karen said.
Wilson County Emergency Management officials said they had reports of the boom from Karnes City to New Berlin, but they didn’t have any information as to what it may have been.
Some people say it may have been a sonic boom. However, officials with Joint Base San Antonio said they weren’t responsible.
There’s also a theory that a local company may have been using explosives to test materials. KENS 5 reached out to the company, Baker Risk, and company officials said the sounds were not produced by them.
So, for now, the loud boom reported by so many people, will remain a summer mystery.
Mysterious rash of cattle mutilations in Oregon
© Anna King/Northwest News Network
In the early morning light, dust from hooves creates a fog at Silvies Valley Ranch in remote eastern Oregon. Cowboys whistle and talk low to their eager herding dogs. They’re moving the cattle from one vast, sage-studded range to another.
Five young purebred bulls mysteriously showed up dead on the ranch this past summer, drained of blood and with body parts precisely removed.
The ranch’s vice president, Colby Marshall, drives his truck down a U.S. Forest Service road.
“Then we’ll get out and take a little walk to where one of the bulls was found. And the carcass is still there,” Marshall says.
Coming upon one of the dead bulls is an eerie scene. The forest is hot and still, apart from a raven’s repeating caw. The bull looks like a giant, deflated plush toy. It smells. Weirdly, there are no signs of buzzards, coyotes or other scavengers. His red coat is as shiny as if he were going to the fair, but he’s bloodless and his tongue and genitals have been surgically cut out.
Marshall says these young livestock were just reaching their top value as breeding bulls. The animals are worth around $6,000 each. And since these were breeding bulls, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of future calves were lost too.
Finding these young Herefords in this remote country can sometimes take the ranch’s experienced cowboys days. Ranch staff members are now required to ride in pairs and are encouraged to carry arms.
“It’s rugged,” Marshall says. “I mean this is the frontier. If some person, or persons, has the ability to take down a 2,000-pound range bull, you know, it’s not inconceivable that they wouldn’t have a lot of problems dealing with a 180-pound cowboy.”
Harney County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Jenkins has been working the cattle cases and has gotten dozens of calls from all over offering tips and suggestions.
“A lot of people lean toward the aliens,” Jenkins says. “One caller had told us to look for basically a depression under the carcass. ‘Cause he said that the alien ships will kinda beam the cow up and do whatever they are going to do with it. Then they just drop them from a great height.”
Jenkins says the cases have been tough, with little evidence and no credible leads.
On his whiteboard, he has a running list scrawled in green marker with the top theories. What’s clear: It isn’t bears, wolves, cougars or poisonous plants. Nor were the animals shot.
The FBI won’t confirm or deny that it’s looking into the multiple slaughters.
Two years ago and 200 miles south, near New Princeton, Ore., one of Andie Davies’ cows was also found cut up and bloodless.
She and her husband drove concentric circles around the corpse, but they never found any tracks.
And in this dusty country, “everything you do leaves tracks,” Davies says.
Back in the 1980s, one of Terry Anderson’s mother cows was mysteriously killed overnight. Standing at his ranch near Pendleton, Ore., Anderson points to the exact spot where he found her on top of a mountain.
He remembers his cow lying dead, her udder removed with something razor sharp.
“And not one drop of blood anywhere,” Anderson says.
He has never gotten over it.
“It’s just left a really strange feeling with me since that day. You can’t explain it,” Anderson says. “And, you know, no one else has been able to explain it.”
The Harney County Sheriff’s Office continues to field calls on the killings. And Silvies Valley Ranch has put up a $25,000 reward for information that could solve the case.
Where Do Black Holes Lead To?
So there you are, about to leap into a black hole. What could possibly await should — against all odds — you somehow survive? Where would you end up and what tantalizing tales would you be able to regale if you managed to clamor your way back?
The simple answer to all of these questions is, as Professor Richard Massey explains, “Who knows?” As a Royal Society research fellow at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, Massey is fully aware that the mysteries of black holes run deep. “Falling through an event horizon is literally passing beyond the veil — once someone falls past it, nobody could ever send a message back,” he said. “They’d be ripped to pieces by the enormous gravity, so I doubt anyone falling through would get anywhere.”
If that sounds like a disappointing — and painful — answer, then it is to be expected. Ever since Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity was considered to have predicted black holes by linking space-time with the action of gravity, it has been known that black holes result from the death of a massive star leaving behind a small, dense remnant core. Assuming this core has more than roughly three-times the mass of the sun, gravity would overwhelm to such a degree that it would fall in on itself into a single point, or singularity, understood to be the black hole’s infinitely dense core.
The resulting uninhabitable black hole would have such a powerful gravitational pull that not even light could avoid it. So, should you then find yourself at the event horizon — the point at which light and matter can only pass inward, as proposed by the German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild — there is no escape. According to Massey, tidal forces would reduce your body into strands of atoms (or ‘spaghettification’, as it is also known) and the object would eventually end up crushed at the singularity. The idea that you could pop out somewhere — perhaps at the other side — seems utterly fantastical.
What about a wormhole?
Or is it? Over the years scientists have looked into the possibility that black holes could be wormholes to other galaxies. They may even be, as some have suggested, a path to another universe.
Such an idea has been floating around for some time: Einstein teamed up with Nathan Rosen to theorise bridges that connect two different points in space-time in 1935. But it gained some fresh ground in the 1980s when physicist Kip Thorne — one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity — raised a discussion about whether objects could physically travel through them.
“Reading Kip Thorne’s popular book about wormholes is what first got me excited about physics as a child,” Massey said. But it doesn’t seem likely that wormholes exist.
Indeed, Thorne, who lent his expert advice to the production team for the Hollywood movie Interstellar, wrote: “We see no objects in our universe that could become wormholes as they age,” in his book The Science of Interstellar (W.W. Norton and Company, 2014). Thorne told Space.com that journeys through these theoretical tunnels would most likely remain science fiction, and there is certainly no firm evidence that a black hole could allow for such a passage.
But, the problem is that we can’t get up close to see for ourselves. Why, we can’t even take photographs of anything that takes place inside a black hole — if light cannot escape their immense gravity, then nothing can be snapped by a camera. As it stands, theory suggests that anything which goes beyond the event horizon is simply added to the black hole and, what’s more, because time distorts close to this boundary, this will appear to take place incredibly slowly, so answers won’t be quickly forthcoming.
“I think the standard story is that they lead to the end of time,” said Douglas Finkbeiner, professor of astronomy and physics at Harvard University. “An observer far away will not see their astronaut friend fall into the black hole. They’ll just get redder and fainter as they approach the event horizon [as a result of gravitational red shift]. But the friend falls right in, to a place beyond ‘forever.’ Whatever that means.”
Maybe a black hole leads to a white hole
Certainly, if black holes do lead to another part of a galaxy or another universe, there would need to be something opposite to them on the other side. Could this be a white hole — a theory put forward by Russian cosmologist Igor Novikov in 1964? Novikov proposed that a black hole links to a white hole that exists in the past. Unlike a black hole, a white hole will allow light and matter to leave, but light and matter will not be able to enter.
Scientists have continued to explore the potential connection between black and white holes. In their 2014 study published in the journal Physical Review D, physicists Carlo Rovelli and Hal M. Haggard claimed that “there is a classic metric satisfying the Einstein equations outside a finite space-time region where matter collapses into a black hole and then emerges from a while hole.” In other words, all of the material black holes have swallowed could be spewed out, and black holes may become white holes when they die.
Far from destroying the information that it absorbs, the collapse of a black hole would be halted. It would instead experience a quantum bounce, allowing information to escape. Should this be the case, it would shed some light on a proposal by former Cambridge University cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who, in the 1970s, explored the possibility that black holes emit particles and radiation — thermal heat — as a result of quantum fluctuations.
“Hawking said a black hole doesn’t last forever,” Finkbeiner said. Hawking calculated that the radiation would cause a black hole to lose energy, shrink and disappear, as described in his 1976 paper published in Physical Review D. Given his claims that the radiation emitted would be random and contain no information about what had fallen in, the black hole, upon its explosion, would erase loads of information.
This meant Hawking’s idea was at odds with quantum theory, which says information can’t be destroyed. Physics states information just becomes more difficult to find because, should it become lost, it becomes impossible to know the past or the future. Hawking’s idea led to the ‘black hole information paradox’ and it has long puzzled scientists. Some have said Hawking was simply wrong, and the man himself even declared he had made an error during a scientific conference in Dublin in 2004.
So, do we go back to the concept of black holes emitting preserved information and throwing it back out via a white hole? Maybe. In their 2013 study published in Physical Review Letters, Jorge Pullin at Louisiana State University and Rodolfo Gambini at the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay, applied loop quantum gravity to a black hole and found that gravity increased towards the core but reduced and plonked whatever was entering into another region of the universe. The results gave extra credence to the idea of black holes serving as a portal. In this study, singularity does not exist, and so it doesn’t form an impenetrable barrier that ends up crushing whatever it encounters. It also means that information doesn’t disappear.
Maybe black holes go nowhere
Yet physicists Ahmed Almheiri, Donald Marolf, Joseph Polchinski and James Sully still believed Hawking could have been on to something. They worked on a theory that became known as the AMPS firewall, or the black hole firewall hypothesis. By their calculations, quantum mechanics could feasibly turn the event horizon into a giant wall of fire and anything coming into contact would burn in an instant. In that sense, black holes lead nowhere because nothing could ever get inside.
This, however, violates Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Someone crossing the event horizon shouldn’t actually feel any great hardship because an object would be in free fall and, based on the equivalence principle, that object — or person — would not feel the extreme effects of gravity. It could follow the laws of physics present elsewhere in the universe, but even if it didn’t go against Einstein’s principle it would undermine quantum field theory or suggest information can be lost.
A black hole of uncertainty
Step forward Hawking once more. In 2014, he published a study in which he eschewed the existence of an event horizon — meaning there is nothing there to burn — saying gravitational collapse would produce an ‘apparent horizon’ instead.
This horizon would suspend light rays trying to move away from the core of the black hole, and would persist for a “period of time.” In his rethinking, apparent horizons temporarily retain matter and energy before dissolving and releasing them later down the line. This explanation best fits with quantum theory — which says information can’t be destroyed — and, if it was ever proven, it suggests that anything could escape from a black hole.
Hawking went as far as saying black holes may not even exist. “Black holes should be redefined as metastable bound states of the gravitational field,” he wrote. There would be no singularity, and while the apparent field would move inwards due to gravity, it would never reach the center and be consolidated within a dense mass.
And yet anything which is emitted will not be in the form of the information swallowed. It would be impossible to figure out what went in by looking at what is coming out, which causes problems of its own — not least for, say, a human who found themselves in such an alarming position. They’d never feel the same again!
One thing’s for sure, this particular mystery is going to swallow up many more scientific hours for a long time to come. Rovelli and Francesca Vidotto recently suggested that a component of dark matter could be formed by remnants of evaporated black holes, and Hawking’s paper on black holes and ‘soft hair’ was released in 2018, and describes how zero-energy particles are left around the point of no return, the event horizon — an idea that suggests information is not lost but captured.
This flew in the face of the no-hair theorem which was expressed by physicist John Archibald Wheeler and worked on the basis that two black holes would be indistinguishable to an observer because none of the special particle physics pseudo-charges would be conserved. It’s an idea that has got scientists talking, but there is some way to go before it’s seen as the answer for where black holes lead. If only we could find a way to leap into one.
Mysterious Gargantuan Crater on the Dark Side of the Moon
Caption to headline image:
The South Pole-Aitken basin (represented by the shades of blue at the center) stretches 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) across and is one of the solar system’s largest craters. The dashed circle indicates the spot where researchers found a weird material beneath the basin that contains metal.
[end of caption]
Billions of years ago, something slammed into the dark side of the moon and carved out a very, very large hole. Stretching 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) wide and 8 miles (13 km) deep, the South Pole-Aitken basin, as the tremendous hole is known to Earthlings, is the oldest and deepest crater on the moon, and one of the largest craters in the entire solar system.
For decades, researchers have suspected that the gargantuan basin was created by a head-on collision with a very large, very fast meteor. Such an impact would have ripped the moon’s crust apart and scattered chunks of lunar mantle across the crater’s surface, providing a rare glimpse at what the moon is really made of. (Spoiler: It’s not cheese.) That theory gained some credence earlier this year, when China’s Yutu-2 rover, which settled into the bottom of the crater aboard the Chang’e 4 lander in January, discovered traces of minerals that seemed to originate from the moon’s mantle.
Now, however, a study published Aug. 19 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters throws those results — and the crater’s origin story — into question. After analyzing the minerals in six plots of soil at the bottom of the South Pole-Aitken basin, a team of researchers argues that the crater’s composition is all crust and no mantle, suggesting that whatever impact opened the crater billions of years ago did not hit hard enough to spray the moon’s innards onto the surface.
“We are not seeing the mantle materials at the landing site as expected,” study co-author Hao Zhang, a planetary scientist at the China University of Geosciences, said in a statement. These findings all but rule out a direct collision with a high-velocity meteor and raise the question: What, if not a head-on meteor strike, created the largest crater on the moon?
Lighting up the dark side
In their new study, the researchers used a technique called reflection spectroscopy to identify specific minerals in the lunar soil based on how individual grains reflected visible and near-infrared light.
Using equipment aboard the Yutu 2 rover, the team conducted reflectance tests on six patches of soil in the first two days following Chang’e 4’s landing, venturing about 175 feet (54 meters) away from the lander. With the help of a database that identifies lunar minerals based on a variety of factors — including size, reflectance and degradation due to solar wind — the team estimated the mineral concentration in each of the plots.
Yutu 2 found a strangely colored substance in a crater on the far side of the moon.
A crystalline rock called plagioclase was by far the most abundant mineral in each sample, accounting for 56% to 72% of the crater’s composition, the researchers wrote. Formed as primordial oceans of lava cool, plagioclase is extremely common in the crusts of Earth and the moon alike, but it’s less abundant in their mantles. Though the team detected other minerals in the crust that are more common in the moon’s mantle, such as olivine, these rocks made up too small a fraction of the soil samples to suggest that part of the mantle had broken through the crust.
This mineral makeup complicates the theory that a giant, high-velocity meteor created the South Pole‐Aitken basin billions of years ago, as such an impact almost certainly would have scattered chunks of mantle over the lunar surface.
So, what, then, created the crater? The researchers did not speculate in the new study. However, prior research has suggested that a renegade space rock is still the culprit, but the hit may not have been so direct. A study published in 2012 in the journal Science argued that a slightly slower-moving meteor could have struck the back of the moon at an angle of about 30 degrees and resulted in an appropriately large crater that never disturbed the moon’s mantle. However, those researchers had only simulations to go on.
If nothing else, the new research suggests that there’s a lot more exploring to do in the South Pole‐Aitken basin before an answer becomes apparent. See you on the dark side of the moon.
Headline Image: © NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona
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