The word uncertainty is used a lot in quantum mechanics. One school of thought is that this means there’s something out there in the world that we are uncertain about. But most physicists believe nature itself is uncertain.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. During its ten years of operations it has led to remarkable discoveries, including the long sought-after Higgs boson. On January 15, an international team of physicists unveiled the concept design for a new particle accelerator that would dwarf the LHC.
In an abandoned gold mine close to Deadwood, South Dakota, construction has started on what is arguably the world’s largest science experiment. I’m part of an international team of around 1,000 scientists assembled to design and run this project – the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) – in order to study the most abundant yet elusive matter particle in the universe.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, physicists began to probe deep into the nature of matter and energy. In so doing, they quickly realized that the rules which govern them become increasingly blurry the deeper one goes. Whereas the predominant theory used to be that all matter was made up of indivisible atoms, scientists began to realize that atoms are themselves composed of even smaller particles.
In December, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented a sneak peek of the new data collected during the first few months of the Large Hadron Collider’s enormously energetic second run. Both experiments reported a small excess of photon pairs with a combined mass around 750 GeV. This small excess could be the first hint of a new massive particle that spits out two photons as it decays, or it might be a coincidental fluctuation that will disappear with more information.
Antimatter was one of the most exciting physics discoveries of the 20th century. Picked up by fiction writers such as Dan Brown, many people think of it as an “out there” theoretical idea – unaware that it is actually being produced every day. What’s more, research on antimatter is actually helping us to understand how the universe works.
From the origin of life to the fate of the universe, there’s plenty scientists simply don’t know. But they are making progress. 2015 has been a great year for science: we’ve seen the agreement of climate deal, pictures of dwarf planets and evidence of flowing water on Mars. So what will happen in 2016 – are there any major science mysteries that could be solved? We asked three experts to speculate.
What do ancient artefacts, fragments from celestial bodies, microchips and gunshot residue have in common? Their innermost secrets can all be unveiled with the same method. Rutherford backscattering spectrometry(RBS) uses a beam of charged particles to analyse their composition by counting the atoms in thin-film materials.