Monday, November 9, 2015

Strong Forces Between Antipotons

Summary: Woah, a story about antimatter on an antimatter blog! Finally.

Unlike a lot of other anitmatter and particle physics news, this does not come to us from CERN but rather from in Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven in New York. Here physicists were able to measure the interactions between antiprotons. It seems like it is also the strong force, an attractive force, that holds the antiprotons together just as it also holds the protons together. This is just one more way in which protons and antiprotons are essentially the same, the exception of their opposite charge. Because of the similarity scientists can rule this out as a possible explanation for the matter/antimatter asymmetry in the universe today.

BBC News

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tractor Beams made of Sound

Summary: It may not be quite the tractor beam that you expect from a scifi show like "Star Trek," but we are getting closer. The way these scientists have developed relies on the pressure of sound waves. Instead of trying to create a concentrated beam that holds a particle, they instead create a vacuum of space, bounded by high intensity waves all around it. Then  by adjusting the boundaries, they are able to move the trapped particle. Currently the capabilities of the design only apply up to pea-sized particles at less than 40cm away.

Despite the apparent 3D nature of the holding pattern, it only requires a loudspeaker on one side of the particle. For the researchers, this means that it could be applied in the medical field for drug delivery. For those of us thinking of the future, this means that tractor beams on spaceships may be possible in a distant future. (Which the scientists did prove would work on a scaled down model.)

BBC News

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Waters of Mars

Summary: As you have no doubt heard, NASA announced yesterday that there is now concrete evidence of flowing water on the surface of Mars. Amazing isn't it? I'll put a link to the press release but first let me highlight a few items. 

1. This was first noticed by am undergraduate student who was studying photos of the surface of Mars. They noticed that there were dark patterns on the surface, resembling river beds, that would appear in June and grow before shrinking again to nothing in September. They would then appear at the same time next year although never in the exact same spot. 

2. Not only was this proof of flowing liquid, but scientists were able to detect hydrated salt crystals. Proof that this liquid is definitely water. 

3. And because it is such a regular pattern, it is safe to assume that it has been occurring for much longer than five years. 

All this gives me greater hope for future exploration of Mars. Maybe this will provide enough public support that the space programs of the world can start collaborations more effectively. 

Of course the Whovian in me is also screaming that we shouldn't trust the water, but that's for another episode to address. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Symmetry of Nuclei

Summary: Finally, some news about antimatter! Scientists at the LHC who are working on ALICE, have been able to more precisely measure the nuclei of particles and their antiparticles. Happily they discovered that there is fundamental symmetry with their charge, parity, and time.

The ALICE experiment smashes particles together that create nuclei and antinuclei at the same rate which allow the scientists to study them easier.

Quarks to Quasars

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Another Nail in the Coffin for the Standard Model?

Summary: Data from the LHC's last run is still being analysed and with this comes possible new data to suggest faults in the standard model. Researchers at University of Maryland are studying leptons, subatomic particles that help to make up our universe. While studying the decay rate, they observed that not all particles decayed at the same rate as they should. Something was influencing the process.

What this mysterious force is, we do not know, but it is not predicted to exist in the standard model. This experiment is building on another experiment of their that also seemed to contradict the standard model. So it is not an instrumental error. Whatever it is, I am excited to find out.

University of Maryland

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pluto Press Conference

Summary: It has been hard to miss the news of New Horizons flying past Pluto and getting beautiful images and data to send back to Earth. It has been harder to keep up with the constant flood of data that is pouring out. NASA has thankfully given a press conference and has published the highlights online.

Personally I am most overjoyed that they have nicknamed the dark spot on the top of Charon Mordor but I also love hearing about the giant ice cliffs. I will point you straight toward the mission site though to get all of the highlights.

If you have access to BBC, their program Sky at Night will be doing a big recap of all the news and what it means on the night of the 20th.

BBC News

Pluto through the years Credit: NASA

New particle seen at CERN

Summary: Nearly lost amid all the Pluto excitement, scientists at CERN have possibly discovered a new particle called the pentaquark. This new particle has been theorized to exist since the 60s and many have claimed to discover it before so they are being cautious. However, if this is indeed what is seems to be, then we have a new form of matter.

The pentaquark is a particle composed of four quarks and one antiquark.

Scientists found the particle by studying the way that the particle Lambda b decayed into three other particles. Some of the intermediary stages only made sense if the pentaquark did exist. Although still cautious about declaring this to be the pentaquark, the technology available to researchers at CERN allows them to view the problem in five dimensions rather than just one.

If this is indeed the particle they think it is, it will provide us with new ways of imagining quarks to be arranged and matter to be composed. Matter may be more complex than we thought.

BBC News