Physics News of the Week: Another Milestone Passed for Laser Fusion + A New Idea in Black Hole Physics

| February 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s that time of the week again when we take a look at some of the most interesting science news. To receive these summaries straight to your email, register for our email newsletter.

1. Another Milestone Passed for Laser Fusion (12 February)

Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at California have passed another important milestone for laser fusion — they have achieved a “fuel gain” of greater than 1. In simple words this refers to the fact that they have produced more energy from fusion reactions than was deposited in the fuel. This was achieved by using NIF’s ultra-powerful laser to crush tiny pellets of deuterium–tritium fuel. Even though this is still very far away from the ultimate goal of producing great amounts of energy through easily controllable fusion, it is still an important step on the road to realizing fusion energy.

Theory of Big Crunch might hold the key to black holes

2. Science Unveils Master Painter’s Secrets (13 February)

It might sound surprising, but science can play an important role in art, especially when talking about research of art and art preservation. As an example of this we can take a look at the advanced science techniques that are helping shed new light on the original beauty that has faded with time on some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. By scaling down sampling techniques to the most miniature levels, scientists can now measure how individual molecules in a painting vibrate differently, which allows them to see the original colors. Such a technique could be invaluable in the reconstruction of old paintings.

“With these digital reconstructions we are not bound by the ethical or technical limitations that standard approaches to conservation have,” said Joris Dik.

3. A Planck Star at the Core of Black Holes? (14 February)

One of the greatest mysteries in astrophysics is what goes on inside the black hole’s event horizon. The current theoretical understanding states that black holes consist of only two simple parts — an event horizon and a singularity. Such an understanding, however, cannot explain most of the paradoxes of black hole physics. Due to this reason, a lot of leading scientists have suggested alternative theories to explain the structure of black holes, including such scientists as Stephen Hawking.

A duo of astrophysicists Carlo Rovelli and Francesca Vidotto have also proposed a new way of looking at black holes. Their idea is that when a black hole forms, it doesn’t collapse to a singularity, but rather forms a very small object called a Planck Star. This idea originates from the considerations in Big Crunch theory, which proposes that at the end of the universe it will re-collapse into a Planck scale object, that eventually will start expanding again, causing a new big bang. Rovelli and Vidotto proposed that something similar could be happening at the centre of black holes.  Such Planck Stars at the centre of black holes would slowly loose mass through Hawking radiation and thus would slowly grow.

Rovelli and Vidotto’s ideas can be found at this arXiv paper. The paper also explains how these ideas could be tested, since astrophysicists think there could be testable signal radiated at the 10−14 cm wavelength.

More news:

Jade Rabbit Wakes up from Lunar Sleep
Misconceptions of Science and Religion
Scientists Seek to Unlock the Mysteries of the Brain

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