Physics

Two MoonsSo reports MIT’s Technology Review:

Back in 2006, the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona noticed that a mysterious body had begun orbiting the Earth. This object had a spectrum that was remarkably similar to the titanium white paint used on Saturn V rocket stages and, indeed, a number of rocket stages are known to orbit the Sun close to Earth.

But this was not an object of ours. Instead, 2006 RH120, as it became known, turned out to be a tiny asteroid just a few metres across–a natural satellite like the Moon. It was captured by Earth’s gravity in September 2006 and orbited us until June 2007 when it wandered off into the Solar System in search of a more interesting neighbour.

2006 RH120 was the first reliably documented example of a temporary moon …


There’s always something, says a Swedish study. Phenomenica reports: Scientists claim to have produced particles of light out of vacuum, proving that space is not empty. An international team says that its…


For those of you following the “God Particle” saga, the scientists at CERN disappointed us all at today’s much hyped news conference. Nick Collins reports for the Telegraph: At a specially-arranged seminar…


As an update to this post, physicists the world over are all ashiver at the prospect of the elusive Higgs boson particle being announced tomorrow. Via ExtremeTech: Tomorrow, at 9am EST, scientists…


HiggsDavide Castelvecchi reports in Scientific American:

Rumors are flying about a December 13 update on the search for the long-sought Higgs boson at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider.

The physics buzz reached a frenzy in the past few days over the announcement that the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is planning to release what is widely expected to be tantalizing — although not conclusive — evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson, the elementary particle hypothesized to be the origin of the mass of all matter.

Many physicists have already swung into action, swapping rumors about the contents of the announcement and proposing grand ideas about what those rumors would mean, if true. “It’s impossible to be excited enough,” says Gordon Kane, a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.


Time ReversalShelley Littin writes in Space Daily:

A simple atomic nucleus could reveal properties associated with the mysterious phenomenon known as time reversal and lead to an explanation for one of the greatest mysteries of physics: the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe.

The physics world was rocked recently by the news that a class of subatomic particles known as neutrinos may have broken the speed of light.

Adding to the rash of new ideas, University of Arizona theoretical physicist Bira van Kolck recently proposed that experiments with another small particle called a deuteron could lead to an explanation for one of the most daunting puzzles physicists face: the imbalance of matter and antimatter in the universe. A deuteron is a simple atomic nucleus, or the core of an atom. Its simplicity makes it one of the best objects for experiments in nuclear physics …





Granted this video is a promo for the New Scientist‘s recent issue on “existence”, it’s pretty interesting, if you are OK with incomplete answers. (Figuring out how the universe got so large is still a serious head-scratcher.) My takeaway after watching this, is if “something” is not really that different from “nothing” (according to our human perception) then, well, there is still much to ponder …



Major disappointment, from some jerk scientists who don’t seem to know when to keep their results to themselves. Via Discovery: Hong Kong physicists say they have proved that a single photon obeys…


4467116919_603041818fCould an entire bank heist take place at an open bank with no one seeing it? The National Geographic reports:

It’s no illusion: Science has found a way to make not just objects but entire events disappear, experts say.

According to new research by British physicists, it’s theoretically possible to create a material that can hide an entire bank heist from human eyes and surveillance cameras.

“The concepts are basically quite simple,” said Paul Kinsler, a physicist at Imperial College London, who created the idea with colleagues Martin McCall and Alberto Favaro.

Unlike invisibility cloaks — some of which have been made to work at very small scales — the event cloak would do more than bend light around an object. Instead this cloak would use special materials filled with metallic arrays designed to adjust the speed of light passing through.




Smashing TimeStephen Battersby writes on New Scientist:

A newly created form of antimatter is the heaviest and most complex anti-thing ever seen. Anti-helium nuclei, each containing two anti-protons and two anti-neutrons, have been created and detected at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Upton, New York.

Anti-particles have the opposite electrical charge to ordinary matter particles (anti-neutrons, which are electrically neutral, are made up of antiquarks that have the opposite charge to their normal quark counterparts). They annihilate on contact with matter, making them notoriously tricky to find and work with. Until recently, the most complex unit of antimatter ever seen was the counterpart of the helium-3 nucleus, which contains two protons and one neutron.

But experiments at RHIC are changing that. RHIC collides heavy atomic nuclei such as lead and gold to form microscopic fireballs, where energy is so densely packed that many new particles can be created.



It really is a strange universe out there. Marcus Chown writes in New Scientist: Buried in the flood of data from the Kepler telescope is a planetary system unlike any seen before….



It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but scientists are reporting that they have seen antimatter beams emitted from thunderstorms. Jonathan Palmer has the story at BBC News: A space telescope…






The Flying TailorI admire his desire to develop a parachute in the early days of aviation, unfortunately Mr. Reichelt may have turned out to be the world’s first-ever BASE jumper. As Wikipedia records:

Believing that the lack of a suitably high test platform was partially to blame for his failures, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He was finally granted permission in early 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on February 4th he made it clear that he intended to jump himself rather than conduct an experiment with dummies.

Despite attempts by his friends and spectators to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he crashed into the icy ground at the foot of the tower. The next day, newspapers were full of the story of the reckless inventor and his fatal jump — many included pictures of the fall taken by press photographers who had gathered to witness Reichelt’s experiment — and a film documenting the jump appeared in newsreels: