AMS and the Search for Antistars

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is one of the largest and most expensive particle physics detectors of all time.  Unlike its cousins at CERN, it operates thousands of miles above the surface of the Earth, orbiting on board the International Space Station.  It is designed to detect particles of antimatter flying through space as cosmic rays, ultra high energy particles from stars and other sources.

Continue reading “AMS and the Search for Antistars”

Magic Material

Imagine being able to roll up your touchpad like a paper and, put it in your pocket.

Imagine an aircraft that is lighter than its passengers and fuel, but at the same time, stronger than aircraft today.

Imagine a material that is almost invisible but 200 times stronger than the strongest steel, and unbelievably this material promises to give you wings.

Continue reading “Magic Material”

Magic Theory

For the past century physicists have been trying to formulate a theory to unify all known laws of physics into a single equation to describe the behaviour of the universe. Obviously, one can imagine that this is not the easiest task so the question may be asked; why would we need to do this? Well, simplicity has always been a matter of taste; however, a single theory could mean that we would be able to predict certain future aspects of the universe much more easily. Continue reading “Magic Theory”

Introducing the Thinnest Material in the World…

We are currently pushing the boundaries in the world of electronics. Products don’t seem to be able to get much thinner without compromising strength and durability. What if we had a new family of materials which were just one atom thick, whilst retaining their strength? Is this possible?

The short answer is Yes. With the emergence of a new “super material” called graphene, the rule books may just have to be rewritten.  Graphene was first discovered in 2004 by physicists; Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester, UK, for which the pair won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010. However only now that we understand it in more detail is it beginning to cause a stir.

Continue reading “Introducing the Thinnest Material in the World…”

The Private Life of Space

Why just settle for one hidden world? When we look at the clear night sky we see a scattering of distant stars. But we can only see a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. There’s a lot more of the Universe out there to see, but we need a little help!

Our eyes have evolved to cope with a certain range of electromagnetic radiation. Light waves have a wavelength, and this wavelength characterises the light. A shorter wavelength means more energetic photons, while in a longer wave the photons are of a lower energy. Continue reading “The Private Life of Space”

Quantum Teleportation

THE FASTEST IMAGINABLE

Over the past millennia, there has been a rapid change in commonly employed modes of transportation. Movement from one place to another has become relatively quicker and easier and the human race is heavily dependent on such systems. This dependence, in turn, has resulted in many advances in transport technology to further evolve different ways of getting from point A to B. But what is the fastest possible speed of travel? Einstein was a firm believer that the speed of light was a barrier that could not be broken.
Continue reading “Quantum Teleportation”

Cuts to NASA’s Funding

October 1st saw a near complete shutdown of the US federal government, cutting funding to several major institutions.

The lapse in funding severely affected operations at NASA, with 97% of the agency’s 18,000 staff deemed non-essential.  The remaining staff were assigned to tasks deemed ‘mission critical’ such as ground based monitoring of the International Space Station.  A spokesperson said “NASA will be closely monitoring the impact of an extended shutdown to determine if crew transportation or cargo resupply services are required to mitigate imminent threats to life and property on the ISS or other areas”.

Continue reading “Cuts to NASA’s Funding”

Higgs Discovery Wins Nobel Prize

During the Nobel prize announcements last month, Professors Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were honoured for their independent formulations, in 1964, of what later became known as the Higgs field.

At the time of the discovery, the standard model of particle physics was in crisis. Despite being able to accurately predict the existence of multiple species of particles, the theory was unable to explain why the vast majority particles have mass.  The theory proposed by Higgs and Englert suggests the existence of a field that particles couple to at varying levels, resulting in them acquiring different masses.

Continue reading “Higgs Discovery Wins Nobel Prize”

Wireless Electricity

Electricity is central to our entire way of life; virtually everything we use in the 21st century relies on it, from flicking the light switch in the morning to using the latest tablet computer. Yet the way it has been delivered has hardly changed in the past hundred years. We still face the sometimes arduous task of looking for the right lead or cable to plug into the last available socket, which just so happens to be in the most inconvenient place in the room. However the socket in the wall that we are so reliant on, may soon become a thing of the past, as our plugged in world is set to be transformed by the arrival of wireless electricity.

Continue reading “Wireless Electricity”