Aug 5, 2017

The Universe may be "less lumpy" than previously thought

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) created a map of 26 million galaxies, the biggest map of the Universe to date, by charting the distribution of matter across the cosmos, per Nature's Davide Castelvecchi. The data from the map has since revealed that the Universe may have less clumps of matter than cosmologists previously thought.

Why it matters: "If confirmed, this gap could mean that mass has been clumping at a lower pace than predicted, potentially revealing new physics," writes Castelvecchi. "For example, it could point to unexpected interactions between dark matter and dark energy, or to new types of neutrinos."

Background: Castelvecchi explains that when the Universe was created roughly 14 billion years ago, matter was spread evenly across it, making it "extremely smooth." As time has passed, cosmologists have found that mass has been "clumping together" into galaxies, stars and other entities at a consistent rate — but now DES' latest data has led scientists to think the clumping may have happened more slowly.

Limitations: DES' findings were based on photos of the Universe produced by measuring "the cosmic microwave background" or as Castelvecchi calls it, "the afterglow of the Big Bang." Survey leaders note that the technique is still "within the margin of error" but add that their data has helped them become a major competitor in the cosmology research field. Note that the DES results have not yet been peer-reviewed, but were presented at a meeting Thursday with the American Physical Society at Fermilab.

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Government will cover uninsured patients' coronavirus treatment

Azar at Friday's briefing. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government will cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a White House briefing Friday.

How it works: The money will come from a $100 billion pot set aside for the health care industry in the most recent stimulus bill. Providers will be paid the same rates they get for treating Medicare patients, and as a condition of those payments, they won't be allowed to bill patients for care that isn't covered.

More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists. The order goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will remain in place through April 30. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a statewide social distancing order on Friday.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

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