thomst writes: Reuters is reporting that French scientist Serge Haroche and American David Wineland will share the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on measuring quantum particles. (The article is VERY skimpy on details.)
thomst writes: A team led by soils scientist Dr. Marek Zbik of Queensland University of Technology has discovered that samples of Moon dust contain nanoparticles that may explain the dust's notoriously strange properties. Moon dust is famously abrasive, sticky, and subject to puzzlingly-high electrostatic charges that cause it to remain suspended above the lunar surface for long periods of time, despite the virtual absence of any atmosphere on the satellite's surface. Dr. Zbik examined a sample of the dust via synchrotron-based nano-tomography, which uses high-energy X-rays to produce 3-D images of nano-scale particles. Dr. Zbik discovered that Moon dust includes a large number of glass "vesicles" or bubbles that contain interior networks of nanoparticles. He theorizes that, when the vesicles are ruptured by micrometeorite impacts, the nanoparticles are released, producing a mixture of "regular" lunar dust and nano-dust over time. According to Dr. Zbik, it's the nano-dust component that accounts for Moon dust's unusual properties, because nano-scale particles are small enough that their behavior is partially determined by the laws of quantum physics, rather than the Newtonian physics that govern larger-scale structures. The team's article in ISRN Astronomy and Astrophysics explains the technical details of the study, and Dr. Zbik has posted a 3-D video of a fractured lunar regolith vesicle on Youtube, as well.
thomst writes: Adam Mann of Wired.com reports the finding that neutrinos may exceed lightspeed could be due to faulty optical cable connections.
Scientists from the OPERA collaboration at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy have “identified two issues that could significantly affect the reported result,” wrote OPERA spokesman Antonio Ereditato in an email. The first issue is a faulty connection of the fiber-optic cable bringing the GPS signal to the experiment’s master clock. The experiment’s GPS may also have been providing the wrong timestamps during synchronization between events.
When the Large Hadron Collider begins goes operational next month, the OPERA researchers will use it to re-test their findings on neutrinos' lawless behavior...
thomst writes: "Chris Lee of Ars Technicareports on a study by Stephen M. Feeney, Matthew C. Johnson, Daniel J. Mortlock, and Hiranya V. Peiris (Physics summary here, Physical Review Letters abstract here, Physics Review D detailed methodology article here, all actual Physics articles behind paywalls, of course) of minute variations in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) that may or may not indicate collisions occurred 13 billion years or so ago between our universe and other universes in the (still theoretical) Multiverse in string theory predicts they are embedded. Lee's ArsTechica article provides a pretty detailed and accessible summary of the research premise, methodology, and conclusions — which amount to, "we really don't have enough data to say, one way or the other." However, the researchers' analysis tools should also work on data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite, once its much more detailed map of the CMB is complete and the data is released (perhaps as late as early 2013)."
thomst writes: "Ron Cowen of Science News reports that on May 2nd, at the American Physical Society meeting in Anaheim, CA, Juan Collar, team leader of COGENT, an experimental effort to detect WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), presented a paper detailing 15 months of data collected via a pure germanium detector located deep in a Minnesota mine which seems to confirm similar results reported by a European effort called DAMA/LIBRA. The results are particularly intriguing, because they appear to show a seasonal variation in the density of WIMPs that accords with models that predict that Earth should encounter more WIMPs in Summer (when its path around the Sun moves in the same direction as the Milky Way revolves) than in Winter (when it goes the opposite direction). The most interesting thing about the COGENT experiment is that the mass of the WIMP candidates it records is significantly less than most particle physicists had predicted, according to popular models. If the interactions recorded by COGENT are eventually confirmed as WIMP encounters, wholesale revisions to the so-called "Standard Model" may be required. (Cowen wrote an earlier article about COGENT last year that goes into a lot more detail about how COGENT works, what its team expects it to find, and why."