Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DailyDirt: Mysteries Of The Universe -- And Shooting Stuff

The universe is filled with plenty of unsolved mysteries. There's no shortage of crazy explanations for the observations that don't make sense, but at least we're narrowing down the possibilities slowly with "big detectors" and other experiments. It's nice to see some things can be reasonably explained without resorting to exotic new forces or particles or dimensions -- though sometimes those new phenomena are also fun ideas to ponder. Here are some quick links to think about:

  • Dark Matter and antimatter might be explained by the existence of a unique kind of particle called the X particle. Or maybe the two phenomena are totally unrelated -- but we'll need some really big detectors to find out. [url]
  • Some physicists are worried about inflation (not the economic kind). Who needs the Big Bang and some wild story of the universe expanding at a crazy rate for an insanely brief period of time? But is it more plausible that particles lose mass with age? [url]
  • The Large Hadron Collider hasn't found the microscopic black holes it was looking for -- ruling out a variety of theories of how the universe might contain extra hidden dimensions. The universe still might have those extra dimensions, but we'll have to look a bit harder for them now. [url]
  • The Pioneer Anomaly has a recently-calculated explanation based on Newtonian laws and a detailed 3D model of the thermal properties of the Pioneer spacecraft. Looks like there's no need to introduce strange new forces at work in our solar system... [url]
  • Shooting stuff out of our solar system is cool -- but so is shooting stuff locally. The US Navy has a new railgun with a range of about 100 miles. [url]

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