DailyDirt: The Little Things In Physics Make Big News

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Scientific discoveries often build upon past scientific discoveries, and it looks like investments in huge particle colliders are really paying off now. But even without gigantic particle accelerators, physicists have been taking some cool measurements recently. Here are just a few examples of some significant discoveries in physics that are verifying some of our models of how the universe works. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.


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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:06pm

    FTL neutrinos

    seriously, a loose cable!?! how can a loose cable make particles look like they're traveling faster than LIGHT?!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:18pm

      Re: FTL neutrinos

      how can a loose cable make particles look like they're traveling faster than LIGHT?!

      Do your brain cell get lonely?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

      Re: FTL neutrinos

      sounds like a pretty weak cover story.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

      Re: FTL neutrinos

      Very very easily. A loose cable can mask the time of departure making it seem like the particles left a few nanoseconds than it actually did.

       

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      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 3:21am

      Re: FTL neutrinos

      The calculated transit time of the electronic signal over that cable was being subtracted from the measured time of arrival of the neutrinos at Gran Sasso, to compensate for signal delays. Because the cable was loose, the signal was taking longer than calculated to reach its end, by 54 nanoseconds I think it was. Hence the neutrinos were thought to be arriving that much sooner.

      54 nanoseconds is the time it takes for light (or the neutrinos) to travel 18 metres. The 700km distance between the LHC and Gran Sasso was known accurately enough to discern a timing discrepancy that small.

      High-energy physics is a complicated business these days. It took 3 years of careful checking before the researchers concluded that they couldn’t find any obvious source of the error. And even after the result was released, it took more than another year before the loose cable was discovered.

       

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        JoeCool (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 2:35pm

        Re: Re: FTL neutrinos

        54 nanoseconds is the time it takes for light (or the neutrinos) to travel 18 metres.


        Damn! That was one loose cable! I've never seen a fiber optic cable that was 18m "loose" before and still worked, but I guess that CERN gets good parts. ;) :D

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:20pm

    Correction: DOES your brain cell get lonely?

    OK?

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 6:21pm

    “God Particle”

    Just a note that that is a sanitized/shortened version of “goddamned particle” (probably because of the difficulty of finding it), there is no deep religious significance to its existence, OK?

     

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      Pixelation, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:40pm

      Re: “God Particle”

      It's nice that they were finally able to lift the universe's kilt and see it's God particles.

       

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    Blake, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:00pm

    Does the 0.000057% statistical chance of this measurement being wrong take into account a loose cable as well?

     

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      Torg (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 3:00am

      Re:

      Probably. Measuring the existence of a particle isn't the kind of thing that can be easily faked by some delayed messaging. Those are very complicated readings, and the fact that they're showing us exactly what we expected to find would be an incredible coincidence if it turned out to be faulty equipment. The neutrino story, on the other hand, made about as much sense as this. That bumped up the chance of wrongness there.

       

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    Digitalistically Speaking (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 10:10pm

    Shoulda went with a Monster cable.

     

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    Rekrul, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

    Some astrophysicists say they've discovered a filament of dark matter between two galaxy clusters about 2.7 billion light years away. This filament of dark matter appears to be around 58 million light years long, and the astronomers were lucky to find two galaxies oriented in a way that allowed them to measure the effects of this dark matter trail.

    You know... All these space-based discoveries that scientists make, which are based on them measuring minute bits of light, are kind of like me discovering a swinging door in China by measuring wind patterns in the US.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 1:05am

    old joke

    A Higgs Boson walks into a Church.
    The priest says "We don't allow Higgs Bosons in here!"
    The Higgs Boson says "But without me, you can't have mass!"

     

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    DCX2, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 8:29am

    Higgs field, not boson!

    I was under the impression that the Higgs field is what gives objects mass. But the only evidence of the Higgs field that we have is the Higgs boson.

     

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