So in the first week of the year 2014 we already had some interesting and fun news from the world of physics. As always, here’s a short summary of the top news stories of the last week. If you would like to receive these news to your email, please register for our email newsletter here.
According to the new research published in Nature, global average temperatures are predicted to rise by around 4 degrees if carbon emissions are not reduced. The research also covers the important subject of cloud formation and what effect it has on global warming.
“Our research has shown climate models indicating a low temperature response to a doubling of carbon dioxide from preindustrial times are not reproducing the correct processes that lead to cloud formation,” said lead author Prof Steven Sherwood. “When the processes are correct in the climate models the level of climate sensitivity is far higher. Previously, estimates of the sensitivity of global temperature to a doubling of carbon dioxide ranged from 1.5°C to 5°C.
In response to scientists criticising the idea of global warming Prof Sherwood answered:”Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect, but what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by those models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”
Is there a disk of dark matter around Earth ?
One of the most surprising presentations at the year’s gathering for the American Geophysical Union was made by Ben Harris — a telecommunications and GPS satellite expert with the University of Texas. He reported that using GPS data to calculate the mass of the Earth, gives a slightly bigger number than is accepted by the International Astronomical Union. One possible explanation of this data, according to Harris, is that there might be a disk of dark matter around the equator.
Additional evidence to such claim comes from the experimental results, which, back in 2009, showed that certain space probes passing Earth experienced unexplained velocity changes. Despite this, Harris’ calculations do not include general relativity or the gravitational impact due to the sun & moon, which makes these results still very preliminary.
And now, for the last story of the week, let’s have a look at something more fun. Time travel is an important part of our culture and even certain fields of theoretical physics. But what about evidence? Two researchers from the Department of Physics at Michigan Technological University believe that evidence for time travel might be found on the internet. In particular, they searched for certain inconsistencies among Twitter messages, direct internet communications and searches on search engines.
As you might imagine, no positive results were received. Among the many reasons for such findings, authors of the paper mentioned that time travellers might be covering their tracks or there might be some unknown law of physics, which prohibits them leaving any traces.