Perhaps Stephen Hawking said it best: "Our image of the universe today is full of strange-sounding ideas and remarkable truths." Wrap your brain around National Geographic News editors' picks of some of the odder astrophysics concepts introduced in 2010.
Like part of a cosmic Russian doll, our universe may be nested inside a black hole that is itself part of a larger universe, astronomers announced in April. In turn, all the black holes found so far in our universe may be doorways into alternate realities.
The theory of eternal inflation says our universe is just one of many—and it predicts time in our universe will end in just five billion years, physicists said in October.
"Dark flow" is no fluke, suggests a March study that strengthened the case for unknown, unseen "structures" lurking on the outskirts of creation.
The theory of gravity proposed by Albert Einstein nearly a century ago can explain the dance of galaxies around one another just as well as it can model the motion of planets around the sun, according to a study released in March.
In the immediate aftermath of the big bang, the universe behaved like a very dense, superhot liquid, according to data released in December from the Large Hadron Collider.
About 13.7 billion years ago, the big bang created a big mess of matter that eventually gave rise to life, the universe, and everything. Now a new material, first described in August, may help scientists understand why.
Unusually short but intense "fireballs" in the distant universe, dubbed gamma-ray bursts, might be created by the plucking of invisible cosmic strings—ultradense flaws in space-time—an August study suggested.
Two huge, previously unseen bubbles that emit gamma rays are billowing from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers suggested in November.
You'll age slightly faster standing on a staircase than you do on the floor below, according to research released in September. The finding is linked to the strange, time-bending effects of Albert Einstein's theories of relativity, which for the first time were shown to affect earthbound distances and time frames.
Buckyballs—molecules whose 60 carbon atoms form stable, hollow spheres—have been found for the first time in space, in the residue of a dead star, astronomers announced in July.
Published December 7, 2010
Did we miss anything? What blew your mind in 2010? Post your comments below.
The Best of 2010
Bug-eyed frog and "Chewbacca bat" among 1,200 newly discovered species in Africa.
Armchair astronomers can see a live web broadcast of Saturn this week and pose for a snapshot of Earth from space next month.
New York City amps up food recycling, while San Francisco shows the way.
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