Tag Archives | Physics

Dark Matter Collides With Your Body About Once a Minute

Dark MatterRebecca Boyle writes on Popular Science:

A dark matter particle smacks into an average person’s body about once a minute, and careens off oxygen and hydrogen nuclei in your cells, according to theoretical physicists. Dark matter is streaming through you as you read this, most of it unimpeded.

Dark matter is arguably the greatest mystery in modern physics. Observations from multiple sources across a few decades now shows that most of the universe is made of matter we can’t see — hence the name — but no one has been able to find it. One strong candidate for this dark material is called a WIMP, for weakly interacting massive particle, and there are a variety of observatories in Europe and the U.S. that are looking for these things. Some have found promising hints, but others have seen a whole lot of nothing.

Still, cosmologists generally agree there’s a halo of dark matter particles out there, and our solar system and our planet are flying through it.

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Why The Age Of Quantum Computing Is Nearer Than You Think

DPAG1998-Max-Planck-GesellschaftTrevor Quirk reports in the Christian Science Monitor that new research at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics shows quantum computing beginning to flirt with practical technology:

Tech-buffs, investors, IT industrialists, and boffins alike eagerly await the day when the science of quantum computing yields practical technology. Physicists of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), recently published research that, they believe, has brought that pivotal day closer.

For many years, physicists have sought to create an information network far superior to today’s by exploiting quantum phenomena. The team of German researchers have constructed the first vital component of such a network: a link between two atomic nodes over which information can be received, sent, and stored using a single photon. Successful exchanges of information recently took place in Garching, Germany, between two MPQ labs connected by a 60-meter fiber-optic cable. Though only a prototype, this rudimentary network could be scaled up to more complex and distanced quantum networks.

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Nassim Haramein: Fraud or Sage?

NassimWill the new age messiah of free energy please stand up! You may recognize Nassim Haramein from his cameo in the recent internet film “Thrive”. Surely many are wondering if there is any legitimacy to his credentials or theories and one curious skeptic has taken him to task in the following article. Via Up:

I’d like to outline here some very sound reasons for asserting that Nassim Haramein is grossly misleading people by claiming to have any depth of scientific understanding behind his ideas. If you’d prefer to just see some straightforward examples, try some of these — but do come back when you’re done … (Alternatively, read this if you think I’m just being a bit horrid.)

On many of his videos, and on the main page of his Resonance Project’s website, he displays a “prestigious” award for one of his physics papers. What is this?

His certificate looks at first to have been awarded for best paper in the whole of “physics, quantum mechanics, relativity, field theory and gravitation” at the entire university of Liège, Belgium in the year 2009, and “chosen by a panel of peer reviewers”.

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Sunsets On Alien Planets

alien sunsetA simulated sunset from a foreign solar system — what a dreamy dusk. PhysOrg writes:

Professor Frederic Pont, of the University of Exeter, imagined what it might really look like if a person were able to visit another planet and to then sit quietly watching as the sun set. He used data from a camera onboard Hubble, knowledge of how the color of light changes based on chemicals it encounters, and computer modeling, to create an actual image of what a sunset on an actual planet far out in space would look like. The planet in question, exoplanet HD209458b, nicknamed Osiris, just happens to be quite large and circles its star rather closely.

Though we couldn’t technically sit on the surface of Osiris, since it doesn’t have one, the picture that Pont produced approximates what it would look like, and the results are truly beautiful. The light from Osiris’s star is white, like our own sun, but when it passes through the sodium in Osirisi’s atmosphere, red light in it is absorbed, leaving the starlight to appear blue.

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Our Sun Is This Small (Animation)

Canis MajorisFor those of you who hated this proposed Earth-centric view of our Solar System, check out this video below. (VY Canis Majoris RULES for now; Giordano Bruno would be proud ...):
VY Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant star located in the constellation Canis Major. At between 1800 and 2100 solar radii (8.4–9.8 astronomical units, 3.063 billion km or 1.7 billion miles in diameter), it is currently the largest known star and also one of the most luminous known ...
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Earth (Usually) Has Two Moons

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 ...
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There’s No Such Thing As Empty Space

sparkle03There’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 ingenious experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy, the ‘Nature’ journal reported.

In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short.

The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad “virtual” particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks.

The research, led by Chris Wilson of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, shows that a related dynamic effect can occur when such a mirror moves very fast through the vacuum.

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God Particle Proves Elusive

CMS_41For 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 at the Cern laboratory in Geneva, researchers presented clues in their data which suggest experts may have pinned down the “God particle” at last.

Scientists remained cautious about their findings and insisted they did not represent an official discovery, but admitted the results were “intriguing”.

The two teams searching for the Higgs boson at the LHC said they had found hints which point towards a Higgs boson with a mass between 124 and 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV).

A mass of 125 GeV is equivalent to about 130 times the weight of a proton found in the nucleus of an atom.

The team working on the ATLAS detector said there was only a one per cent likelihood their results occurred by chance rather than reflecting a real effect, while the CMS team quoted a figure of about five per cent.

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A Glimpse Of The God Particle

A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson. (CERN)

A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson. (CERN)

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 at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland are expected to announce, with fairly strong certainty, that they have observed the Higgs boson “God” particle at a mass-energy of 125 GeV.

For just over a week, rumors have been rife that observations with 2.5 to 3.5 sigma certainty (96% to 99.9%) have been made. For it to be declared an actual discovery, however, a sigma level of five has to be recorded. A score on the higher end of the range, towards 3.5, would definitely have particle physicists, engineers, scientists, and philosophers jumping around excitedly, though. Perhaps more importantly, LHC has two detectors at the end of its 17-mile-long particle acceleration tunnel, and both have reportedly seen the Higgs boson: the CMS detector with sigma 2.5, and ATLAS with sigma 3.5.

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Has the “God Particle” (the Higgs Boson) Been Discovered?

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.
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