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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.
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Oldest Cave Art Found in Sulawesi<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a9734e306f0914bfdcbe79a1e317a7f0"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/b-wAYtBxn7E?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.