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Physicists probe why the Universe exists and has matter
A new study rocks prevailing theories on antimatter in the early Universe.
- Scientists from around the world teamed up to study the properties of neutrons.
- They were able to achieve extremely precise measurements of electric compasses in neutrons.
- The results challenge current theories of why antimatter and matter didn't destroy each other in the early Universe.
When expressed in physics terms, one of the most important human questions of "Why do I exist?" can be expressed as "Why is there more matter than antimatter?" In other words, during the Big Bang, a tremendous amount of antimatter was created, which could have cancelled out the matter. So why didn't it? In a newly published study, scientists came closer to understanding the answer by measuring properties of neutrons with unprecedented precision.
The team looked at whether a neutron, a fundamental particle of the Universe, can act as an "electric compass" by measuring its EDM (Electric Dipole Moment). This property results from the somewhat asymmetrical shape of a neutron, which is slightly positive at one end and slightly negative at the other, making it like a bar magnet, as explains the press release from the University of Sussex.
The team discovered that the measured EDM of the neutrons was much smaller than the theories predicted, pointing to the possibility that they need to be improved or replaced.
Big Bang and early Universe expansion.
Explanations related to matter left over after the Big Bang predict the existence of such "electric compasses" in neutrons, and understanding this phenomenon is essential to figuring out why matter didn't just disappear.
As explained by CERN, the Big Bang was supposed to create an equal amount of matter and antimatter, and yet obviously the things we see around us now are very much made of matter.
Where is the antimatter? Why is there such an asymmetry between matter and antimatter, whose particles are produced in pairs? If ever they were to come in contact, they would destroy each other, leaving only pure energy behind. And yet that's not what ultimately seems to have happened.
Apparatus for Measuring the Neutron's EDM.
Credit: University of Sussex
Professor Philip Harris of the University of Sussex, who led the EDM group, said that their results were a culmination of more than two decades of work by numerous scientists, while their particular experiment took measurements over two years.
"We've found that the "electric dipole moment" is smaller than previously believed," he pointed out. "This helps us to rule out theories about why there is matter left over - because the theories governing the two things are linked."
He also pointed out that their team "set a new international standard for the sensitivity of this experiment." The asymmetry they were able to pinpoint is extremely tiny but their experiment measured it "in such detail that if the asymmetry could be scaled up to the size of a football, then a football scaled up by the same amount would fill the visible Universe," he added.
To achieve this precision, the scientists upgraded an apparatus that has held the world's sensitivity record from 1999 till now. The measurements they achieved were so accurate that they'd compensate even for such factors as a truck driving by their institute, which would disturb the magnetic field enough to affect their experiment.
In total, the scientists measured over 50,000 bunches, each containing more than 10,000 ultracold neutrons, which move relatively slowly.
What can old stars teach us about the birth of our galaxy? ...
Dr. Clark Griffith, who lectures Physics at the University of Sussex, expounded on the multi-disciplinary components involved in the findings:
"This experiment brings together techniques from atomic and low energy nuclear physics, including laser-based optical magnetometry and quantum-spin manipulation," he shared.
These tools allowed the scientists to probe "questions relevant to high-energy particle physics and the fundamental nature of the symmetries underlying the universe," said Dr. van der Grinten.
The scientists hope their search will lead to a "new physics" that would expand upon the Standard Model. Previous developments in measuring EDMs, which stared in the 1950s, resulted in such technology as atomic clocks and MRI scanners.
The team included scientists from the UK's University of Sussex, the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, with 18 organizations involved overall.
Their results were published in the February 28, 2020 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
What caused the Big Bang? Consider the beer bottle.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.