Tag Archives | Physics

Thunderstorms Generate Antimatter Beams

Antimatter Cloud (NASA)

Antimatter Cloud (NASA)

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 has accidentally spotted thunderstorms on Earth producing beams of antimatter.

Such storms have long been known to give rise to fleeting sparks of light called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. But results from the Fermi telescope show they also give out streams of electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons.

The surprise result was presented by researchers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in the US.

It deepens a mystery about terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs — sparks of light that are estimated to occur 500 times a day in thunderstorms on Earth. They are a complex interplay of light and matter whose origin is poorly understood.

Thunderstorms are known to create tremendously high electric fields — evidenced by lightning strikes.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Observatory 1.5 Miles Deep Under Antarctic Ice

Photo: The National Geographic

Photo: The National Geographic

Some secrets of the universe may be found by looking underground. Under the South Pole to be exact. There, under the ice, is the world’s largest neutrino observatory used to find clues to cosmic mysteries and subatomic particles that can travel through almost any matter. Via The National Geographic:

An IceCube sensor is dropped into 1 of 86 holes drilled into the Antarctic ice in a December 2010 picture.

To reach the icy depths, scientists designed and built the Enhanced Hot Water Drill, which can penetrate more than 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of ice in less than two days. The team then fed the IceCube detector—86 cable strings that each contain 60 neutrino sensors—into the holes.

Each cable is equipped with another four sensors at the surface, which together make up one IceCube array. The detector and arrays combine to make the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

Situated at the geographic South Pole, the U.S.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Astronomers Find First Evidence Of Other Universes

Eternal InflationAmazing to think the universe has “cosmic bruises.” Via Technology Review’s Physics arXiv blog:

There’s something exciting afoot in the world of cosmology. Last month, Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia announced that they had found patterns of concentric circles in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang.

This, they say, is exactly what you’d expect if the universe were eternally cyclical. By that, they mean that each cycle ends with a big bang that starts the next cycle. In this model, the universe is a kind of cosmic Russian Doll, with all previous universes contained within the current one.

That’s an extraordinary discovery: evidence of something that occurred before the (conventional) Big Bang.

Today, another group says they’ve found something else in the echo of the Big Bang. These guys start with a different model of the universe called eternal inflation.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The World’s First BASE Jumper: Franz Reichelt’s 1912 Doomed Leap from the Eiffel Tower (Video)

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:

Continue Reading

Large Hadron Collider Creates Mini ‘Big Bangs’

Our universe was created after the occurrence of the Big Bang. Humans have successfully reenacted mini Big Bangs. Does this mean we could create mini universes? From The Telegraph:

The reaction created temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun, which have not been reached since the first billionths of a second following the Big Bang.

The heavyweight particle collisions follow seven months of earlier experiments crashing protons – which are 200 times lighter than lead ions – at near-light speeds.

The collisions were produced by firing lead ions – atoms with their electrons removed – at incredible speeds in opposite directions around the LHC’s underground tunnel at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva.

This was expected to cause atomic particles such as protons and neutrons to melt, producing a “soup” of matter in a state previously unseen on Earth.

Scientists, including British particle physicists, will now study the particles in the hope of discovering what holds atoms together and gives them their mass.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Physicists Devise Way to Test Whether We’re Really Living in a Hologram

Hologram Universe?Interesting post from Sara Reardon in Symmetry (A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication):

In 2008, Fermilab particle astrophysicist Craig Hogan made waves with a mind-boggling proposition: The 3D universe in which we appear to live is no more than a hologram. Now he is building the most precise clock of all time to directly measure whether our reality is an illusion.

The idea that spacetime may not be entirely smooth — like a digital image that becomes increasingly pixelated as you zoom in – had been previously proposed by Stephen Hawking and others. Possible evidence for this model appeared last year in the unaccountable “noise” plaguing the GEO600 experiment in Germany, which searches for gravitational waves from black holes. To Hogan, the jitteriness suggested that the experiment had stumbled upon the lower limit of the spacetime pixels’ resolution.

Black hole physics, in which space and time become compressed, provides a basis for math showing that the third dimension may not exist at all.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

God May Not Be the Theoretical Higgs Boson: SHE May Be the Already-Discovered Weak Force

Dickey Eason

Dickey Eason

We all have our ideas about how the world and universe work. Some of us see the hand of “God” in everything. Others are atheists or agnostics—still others are guided by spirituality. But no matter where we are on the “believe” spectrum, most of us see a rather benign universe. By that I mean that we do not see specific forces struggling with one another in the cosmos once we get away from earth, which is interesting to me. We see conflict and battles on earth but not in the rest of the universe.

We view it much as we do a documentary—no plots, no dynamics—just an intriguing show. We look at ourselves—human life on earth—as being the real show. But that separation has, I believe, caused us to distort our perceptions of the Big Picture. I think if we start seeing the natural conflicts that exist in the universe, then we might start the process that leads to fewer human conflicts on earth.… Read the rest

Continue Reading