Physics News of the Week (January 6-13)

| January 14, 2013 | 0 Comments


As always, today we take a look at last week’s most important headlines to find out what happened in the world of physics. If you enjoy reading this then don’t hesitate to join our email newsletter.

1. New Antimatter Trapping Method to Provide ‘a Major Experimental Advantage (January 7)

Researchers have proposed a new method for cooling trapped anti-hydrogen, which could help mapping the mysterious properties of antimatter that have to date remained elusive. The new method, developed by a group of researchers from the USA and Canada, could potentially cool atoms to temperatures 25 times colder than already achieved, making them a lot easier to experiment on. In this method a laser is directed at antihydrogen atoms to give them a ‘kick’, causing them to lose energy and cool down. Full report with additional links can be found here.

2. Another Strike to Dark Energy Alternatives to Einstein’s Cosmological Constant (January 9)

According to the research done in University of Arizona, the accelerating expansion of the galaxies observed in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field may conform more to Albert Einstein’s “cosmological constant” than a popular alternative theory of dark energy. Arizona astronomy professor Rodger Thompson found that the newly obtained data favours Einstein’s cosmological constant over the popular alternative — dark energy.

To explain the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, astrophysicists came up with a concept of dark energy — a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space. The popular theory of dark energy, however, does not fit new results on the value of the proton mass divided by the electron mass in the early universe.

Alternatively the acceleration could be explained by reinstating the “cosmological constant” into Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Einstein originally introduced the term to make the universe stand still, which seemed appealing to his beliefs and the world view of his days. When it was later found that the universe was expanding,  the constant was reinstated with a different value that produces the observed acceleration of the universe’s expansion. Physicists trying to calculate the value from known physics, however, get a number more than 10 to the power of 60 (one followed by 60 zeros) too large – a truly astronomical number. That’s when physicists turned to new theories of dark energy to explain the acceleration. Full article here.

Einstein’s “biggest blunder” might be one of the most important concepts in cosmology.

3. Quantum Theory Pushed to its Limits Once Again (January 9)

Whether a quantum object behaves like a wave or like a particle depends on the choice of measurement apparatus used for observing the system, and therefore on the type of measurement performed.

Anton Zeilinger’s and a team of physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have recently investigated this concept deeper than ever. Whether a certain photon behaves like a particle or like a wave depends on the measurement performed on a second photon. In the new experiment, the second photon is so far separated from the first photon that no transfer of information whatsoever would be fast enough. Yet, the first photon behaves like a wave or like a particle, still depending on the measurement performed on the second. While the results of such experiments are fully consistent with quantum physics, a clear explanation in terms of causality is impossible. To find out more head here.

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