Physics News of the Week: A Universe Born from a Black Hole

| August 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Another great summer weak is coming to an end, so let’s have a look at the advancements in the world physics that happened in the last 7 days. If you would like to receive these news to your email box weekly, register for our email newsletter.

1. Hunt For Dark Matter Takes Physicists Underground where WIMP’s Can’t Hide (Aug 7)

A new major international experiment aimed at discovering dark matter could be constructed and operational by 2018. The experiment known by its acronym SuperCDMS SNOLAB will go deeper below the surface of the earth than earlier generations of such experiments. 

“This is a very exciting time in our field, and I think the United States is well-positioned to play a key role,” said Cooley, an associate professor in SMU’s Department of Physics. “The three experiments chosen, SuperCDMS, LZ and AMDX, are complementary and together provide sensitivity to a large variety of potential dark matter candidates. In particular, SuperCDMS provides unprecedented sensitivity to light dark-matter candidates.”

 

2. Lasers and Carbon Nanotubes to Look Inside Living Brains (Aug 7)

It’s sometimes easy to forget that many scientific breakthroughs can be invaluable in various real life applications. A good example is the recently developed entirely non-invasive technique that provides a view of blood flow in the brain. Stanford chemists and physicists employed lasers and carbon nanotubes to capture an unprecedented look at blood flowing through a living brain. The technique at this stage is only applicable for mice brain, however, future research could very well apply it to human brains.

The new technique, called near infrared-IIa imaging, or NIR-IIa, calls for injecting water-soluble carbon nanotubes into a live mouse’s bloodstream. The researchers then shine a near-infrared laser over the rodent’s skull. The light causes the specially designed nanotubes to fluoresce at wavelengths of 1,300-1,400 nanometers; this range represents a sweet spot for optimal penetration with very little light scattering. The fluorescing nanotubes can then be detected to visualize the blood vessels’ structure. Such a non-invasive technique promises easier and cheaper diagnostic of brain diseases. 

3. The Black Hole at the Birth of the Universe (Aug 8)

There are many alternative theories to the good old big bang theory. Some of them aim to replace it, whereas others attempt to explain what exactly caused the big bang to begin with. One of the more interesting of such theories has been recently proposed by a trio of physicists from the Perimeter Institute. The main idea of their approach is to perceive the big bang as three-dimensional “mirage” of a collapsing star in a universe profoundly different than our own. The idea, despite sounding similar to sci-fi, is in fact based on sound mathematics and shows promise of being testable.

One of the main problems with the theory of big bang is the singularity itself. All the main theories explaining the processes in the universe collapse at the moment of the beginning of the universe, during which both quantum and relativistic effects were important. In the proposed scenario, our universe was never inside the singularity; rather, it came into being outside an event horizon, protected from the singularity. It originated as – and remains – just one feature in the imploded wreck of a four-dimensional star. 

Other news:

High-Energy Collisions Reveal the Unexpected
Electrons in a Magnetic Field Exhibit Strange Quantum Behaviour
Next Mars Rover to Make Oxygen

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