EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Tag Archives: particle physics
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Scientists are cautiously optimistic that results from a particle experiment circling the Earth onboard the International Space Station (ISS) hint at the existence of dark matter.
The space-based Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment could be building toward evidence of dark matter, judging by its first result.
The AMS detector does its work more than 200 miles above Earth, latched to the side of the International Space Station. It detects charged cosmic rays, high-energy particles that for the most part originate outside our solar system.
The experiment’s first result, released today, showed an excess of antimatter particles—over the number expected to come from cosmic-ray collisions—in a certain energy range....read more
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN made headlines in 2012 with the announcement of a probable discovery of the Higgs Boson. Scientists are collecting and analyzing more data before they declare an outright discovery in 2013. In the meantime, they plan to use the giant machine to examine even more interesting science — at very small and very large scales — in the new year.
From the Guardian:
When it comes to shutting down the most powerful atom smasher ever built, it’s not simply a question of pressing the off switch.
In the French-Swiss countryside on the far side of Geneva, staff at the Cern particle physics laboratory are taking steps to wind down the Large Hadron Collider. After the latest run of experiments ends next month, the huge superconducting magnets that line the LHC’s 27km-long tunnel must be warmed up, slowly and gently, from -271 Celsius to room temperature. Only then can engineers descend into the tunnel to begin their work....read more
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Some recent experiments out of the University of Toronto show for the first time an anomaly in measurements predicted by Werner Heisenberg’s fundamental law of quantum mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is an integral component of quantum physics. At the quantum scale, standard physics starts to fall apart, replaced by a fuzzy, nebulous set of phenomena. Among all the weirdness observed at this microscopic scale, Heisenberg famously observed that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be simultaneously measured, with any meaningful degree of precision. This led him to posit the uncertainty principle, the declaration that there’s only so much we can know about a quantum system, namely a particle’s momentum and position....read more
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
A week ago, on July 4, 2012 researchers at CERN told the world that they had found evidence of a new fundamental particle — the so-called Higgs boson, or something closely similar. If further particle collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider uphold this finding over the coming years, this will rank as significant a discovery as that of the proton or the electro-magnetic force. While practical application of this discovery, in our lifetimes at least, is likely to be scant, it undeniably furthers our quest to understand the underlying mechanism of our existence.
So where might this discovery lead next?
From the New Scientist:
Sunday, July 1, 2012
We think CDM sounds much more fun than LHC, a rather dry acronym for Large Hadron Collider.
Researchers at the LHC are set to announce the latest findings in early July from the record-breaking particle smasher buried below the French and Swiss borders. Rumors point towards the discovery of the so-called Higgs boson, the particle theorized to give mass to all the other fundamental building blocks of matter. So, while this would be another exciting discovery from CERN and yet another confirmation of the fundamental and elegant Standard Model of particle physics, perhaps there is yet more to uncover, such as the exotically named “inflaton”.
From Scientific American:
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
A small, but growing, idea in theoretical physics and cosmology is that spacetime may be emergent. That is, spacetime emerges from something much more fundamental, in much the same way that our perception of temperature emerges from the motion and characteristics of underlying particles.
More on this new front in our quest to answer the most basic of questions from FQXi:
Imagine if nothing around you was real. And, no, not in a science-fiction Matrix sense, but in an actual science-fact way....read more
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Now in it’s fifth season on U.S. television, The Big Bang Theory has made serious geekiness fun and science cool. In fact, the show is rising in popularity to such an extent that a Google search for “big bang theory” ranks the show first and above all other more learned scientific entires.
Brad Hooker from Symmetry Breaking asks some deep questions of David Saltzberg, science advisor to The Big Bang Theory.
From Symmetry Breaking:
For those who live, breathe and laugh physics, one show entangles them all: The Big Bang Theory. Now in its fifth season on CBS, the show follows a group of geeks, including a NASA engineer, an astrophysicist and two particle physicists....read more
Sunday, March 18, 2012
From the Guardian:
Last week’s results from the Daya Bay neutrino experiment were the first real measurement of the third neutrino mixing angle, ?13 (theta one-three). There have been previous experiments which set limits on the angle, but this is the first time it has been shown to be significantly different from zero.
Since ?13 is a fundamental parameter in the Standard Model of particle physics1, this would be an important measurement anyway. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
Neutrinos – whatever else they might be doing – mix up amongst themselves as they travel through space. This is a quantum mechanical effect, and comes from the fact that there are two ways of defining the three types of neutrino....read more
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
A peer-reviewed journal recently published a 100-page scientific paper describing a theory of everything that unifies quantum theory and relativity (a long sought-after goal) with the origin of life, evolution and cosmology. And, best of all the paper contains no mathematics.
The paper written by a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University raises interesting issues about the peer review process and the viral spread of information, whether it’s correct or not.
From Ars Technica:
Physicists have been working for decades on a “theory of everything,” one that unites quantum mechanics and relativity. Apparently, they were being too modest. Yesterday saw publication of a press release claiming a biologist had just published a theory accounting for all of that—and handling the origin of life and the creation of the Moon in the bargain. Better yet, no math!...read more
Friday, January 6, 2012
Over the last 40 years or so physicists and cosmologists have sought to construct a single grand theory that describes our entire universe from the subatomic soup that makes up particles and describes all forces to the vast constructs of our galaxies, and all in between and beyond. Yet a major stumbling block has been how to bring together the quantum theories that have so successfully described, and predicted, the microscopic with our current understanding of gravity. String theory is one such attempt to develop a unified theory of everything, but it remains jumbled with many possible solutions and, currently, is beyond experimental verification.
Recently however, theorists in Japan announced a computer simulation which shows how our current 3-dimensional universe may have evolved from a 9-dimensional space hypothesized by string theory.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The world of particle physics is agog with recent news of an experiment that shows a very unexpected result – sub-atomic particles traveling faster than the speed of light. If verified and independently replicated the results would violate one of the universe’s fundamental properties described by Einstein in the Special Theory of Relativity. The speed of light — 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second) — has long been considered an absolute cosmic speed limit.
Stranger still, over the last couple of days news of this anomalous result has even been broadcast on many cable news shows....read more
Friday, July 29, 2011
Another day, another particle, courtesy of scientists at Fermilab. The CDF group working with data from Fermilab’s Tevatron particle collider announced the finding of a new, neutron-like particle last week. The particle known as a neutral Xi-sub-b is a heavy relative of the neutron and is made up of a strange quark, an up quark and a bottom quark, hence the “s-u-b” moniker.
Here’s more from Symmetry Breaking:
While its existence was predicted by the Standard Model, the observation of the neutral Xi-sub-b is significant because it strengthens our understanding of how quarks form matter. Fermilab physicist Pat Lukens, a member of the CDF collaboration, presented the discovery at Fermilab on Wednesday, July 20....read more
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Jonathan Jones over at the Guardian puts an creative spin (pun intended) on the latest developments in the world of particle physics. He suggests that we might borrow from the world of modern and contemporary art to help us take the vast imaginative leaps necessary to understand our physical world and its underlying quantum mechanical nature bound up in uncertainty and paradox.
Jones makes a good point that many leading artists of recent times broke new ground by presenting us with an alternate reality that demanded a fresh perspective of the world and what lies beneath. Think Picasso and Dali and Miro and Twombly.
From Jonathan Jones for the Guardian:
Monday, July 25, 2011
Two exciting races tracked through Grenoble, France this passed week. First, the Tour de France held one of the definitive stages of the 2011 race in Grenoble, the individual time trial. Second, Grenoble hosted the European Physical Society conference on High-Energy Physics. Fans of professional cycling and high energy physics would not be disappointed.
In cycling, Cadel Evans set a blistering pace in his solo effort on stage 20 to ensure the Yellow Jersey and an overall win in this year’s Tour....read more
Friday, July 1, 2011
About a year ago, the DZero collaboration at Fermilab published a tantalizing result in which the universe unexpectedly showed a preference for matter over antimatter. Now the collaboration has more data, and the evidence for this effect has grown stronger.
The result is extremely exciting: The question of why our universe should exist solely of matter is one of the burning scientific questions of our time. Theory predicts that matter and antimatter was made in equal quantities. If something hadn’t slightly favored matter over antimatter, our universe would consist of a bath of photons and little else. Matter wouldn’t exist....read more
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
From the Economist:
IN THIS week’s print edition we report a recent result from the T2K collaboration in Japan which has found strong hints that neutrinos, the elusive particles theorists believe to be as abundant in the universe as photons, but which almost never interact with anything, are as fickle as they are coy.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The most astonishing thing about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the ring-shaped particle accelerator that revved up for the first time on September 10 in a tunnel near Geneva, is that it ever got built. Twenty-six nations pitched in more than $8 billion to fund the project. Then CERN—the European Organization for Nuclear Research—enlisted the help of 5,000 scientists and engineers to construct a machine of unprecedented size, complexity, and ambition....read more
Friday, May 5, 2006
From Scientific American:
In recent experiments, physicists have replicated conditions of the infant universe–with startling results.
For the past five years, hundreds of scientists have been using a powerful new atom smasher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island to mimic conditions that existed at the birth of the universe. Called the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC, pronounced “rick”), it clashes two opposing beams of gold nuclei traveling at nearly the speed of light. The resulting collisions between pairs of these atomic nuclei generate exceedingly hot, dense bursts of matter and energy to simulate what happened during the first few microseconds of the big bang. These brief “mini bangs” give physicists a ringside seat on some of the earliest moments of creation....read more