Physics News of the Week: Meteor Hits Russia With a Power of 20 Atomic Bombs

| February 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

So another nice Sunday has come and, as always, let’s take a look at the most interesting events that happened in the world of physics last week. In this edition of Physics News of the Week we take a look at the advancements in quantum cryptography, a view to the future of LHC and the horrific explosion of the meteor hitting Syberia. As always, if you would like these news delivered straight to your email register to our email updates.

1. Time for a Break for CERN (February 13)

Seven months after its scientists made a landmark discovery that may explain the mysteries of mass, Europe’s top physics lab will take a break from smashing invisible particles to recharge for the next leap into the unknown. Starting from Thursday, the cutting-edge facilities at CERN will go offline for an 18-month upgrade.

Theorised back in 1964, the boson also known as the God Particle carries the name of a British physicist, Peter Higgs. Higgs calculated that a field of bosons could explain a great anomaly: Why do some particles have mass while others, such as light, have none? Now, after almost 40 years, the Higg’s boson was finally found, filling the last missing piece of the puzzle of particles called the Standard Model. So what are the plans for the future?

Last year, the LHC achieved a collision energy level of eight teraelectron volts, an energy measure used in particle physics—up from seven in 2011. After it comes back online in 2015, the goal is to take that level to 13 or even 14, with the LHC expected to run for three or four years before another shutdown. In this stage, more valuable data will be collected, which will be used to investigate the peculiarities of the Higgs and hopefully some new discoveries will take place. Read the full article here.

2. A  First-ever Demonstration of Securing Control Data for Electric Grids Using Quantum Cryptography (February 14)

The Los Alamos National Laboratory quantum cryptography team has successfully completed the first-ever demonstration of securing control data for electric grids using quantum cryptography.

Quantum cryptography provides a means of detecting and defeating an adversary who might try to intercept or attack the communications. Single photons are used to produce secure random numbers between users, and these random numbers are then used to authenticate and encrypt the grid control data and commands.

“This project shows that quantum cryptography is compatible with electric-grid control communications, providing strong security assurances rooted in the laws of physics, without introducing excessive delays in data delivery,” said  Jane Nordholt, the Los Alamos principal investigator. For more about quantum cryptography, read the full article here.

3. Meteor Strikes Russia (February 15)

With a blinding flash a meteor with the force of 20 atomic bombs exploded in the  western Siberian sky on Friday injuring more than 1,000 people as it blasted out windows and spread panic in a city of 1 million. While NASA estimated the meteor was only about the size of a bus and weighed an estimated 7,000 tons, the fireball it produced was dramatic.

Many videos of the meteor were captured, one of which is presented below. Read the full report here.



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