Posts Tagged ‘Dark Matter’
An international study claims to have found first observed evidence that our universe is a hologram.
What is the holographic universe idea? It’s not exactly that we are living in some kind of Star Trekky computer simulation. Rather the idea, first proposed in the 1990s by Leonard Susskind and Gerard ‘t Hooft, says that all the information in our 3-dimensional reality may actually be included in the 2-dimensional surface of its boundaries. It’s like watching a 3D show on a 2D television…
Just when one thought that things couldn’t get any stranger: “Scientists Find First Observed Evidence That Our Universe May Be a Hologram.”
Pair with this piece on recent experimental confirmation of what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”
* Hunter S. Thompson
As we batten down the hatches, we might send shady birthday greetings to Fritz Zwicky; he was born on this date in 1898. A distinguished astronomer who worked at Cal Tech most of his life, Zwicky is best remembered for being the first to infer the existence of “dark matter“: while examining the Coma galaxy cluster in 1933, he used the virial theorem to deduce the existence of what he then called dunkle Materie. Colleagues knew him as both both a genius and a curmudgeon. One of his favorite insults was to refer to people of whom he didn’t approve as “spherical bastards”– because, he explained, they were bastards no matter which way you looked at them.
[For more on dunkle Materie: “Will We Ever Know What Dark Matter Is?“]
“I used to think information was destroyed in black holes. This was my biggest blunder, or at least my biggest blunder in science”*…
Gravitational waves sent out from a pair of colliding black holes have been converted to sound waves, as heard in this animation. On September 14, 2015, LIGO [the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory] observed gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of our sun. The incredibly powerful event, which released 50 times more energy than all the stars in the observable universe, lasted only fractions of a second.
In the first two runs of the animation, the sound-wave frequencies exactly match the frequencies of the gravitational waves. The second two runs of the animation play the sounds again at higher frequencies that better fit the human hearing range. The animation ends by playing the original frequencies again twice.
As the black holes spiral closer and closer in together, the frequency of the gravitational waves increases. Scientists call these sounds “chirps,” because some events that generate gravitation waves would sound like a bird’s chirp.
More background from LIGO:
* Stephen Hawking
As we scan the event horizon, we might send difficult-to-detect birthday greetings to Lawrence Maxwell Krauss; he was born on this date in 1954. A theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Dr. Krauss was among the first to propose the existence of the enigmatic dark energy that makes up most of the mass and energy in the universe. He directs the Origins Project, and has written several books on science for the general public, including Fear of Physics (1993), The Physics of Star Trek (1995), Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science (2011), and A Universe from Nothing (2012).
A computer simulation shows how invisible dark matter coalesces in halos (shown in yellow). Photograph: Science Photo Library, via The Guardian
For all the bright clutter of the night sky, the stars and planets that we see are only about 4% of what’s there. The balance, scientists believe, is dark matter– an invisible substance that plays a critical role in existence via the gravitational force that it exerts. The Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky postulated dark matter in 1933, when he noticed that a distant cluster of galaxies would fall apart were it not for the extra gravitational pull of some mysterious unseen mass in space. Since then, astronomers and cosmologists have wrestled with the idea– and with the challenge of verifying dark matter’s existence.
Now, The Guardian reports, that challenge may have been met:
In a series of coordinated announcements at several US laboratories, researchers said they believed they had captured dark matter in a defunct iron ore mine half a mile underground. The claim, if confirmed next year, will rank as one the most spectacular discoveries in physics in the past century.
Tantalising glimpses of dark matter particles were picked up by highly sensitive detectors at the bottom of the Soudan mine in Minnesota, the scientists said.
Dan Bauer, head of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS), said the group had spotted two particles with all the expected characteristics of dark matter…
“If they have a real signal, it’s a seriously big deal. The scale on which people are looking for dark matter is vast,” said Gerry Gilmore at Cambridge University’s institute of astronomy. “Dark matter is what created the structure of the universe and is essentially what holds it together. When ordinary matter falls into lumps of dark matter it turns into galaxies, stars, planets and people. Without it, we wouldn’t be here,” Gilmore said…
Read the whole extraordinary story here.
As we slip off our shades, we might it was on this date in 1879 that Thomas Edison first privately demonstrated incandescent lighting at his laboratory in Menlo Park (or “the other Menlo Park,” as it’s known out here in your correspondent’s neck of the woods…)