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  • richardmitnick 7:05 am on May 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gravity, Novespace Zero-G aircraft, Parabolic flight campaign   

    From European Space Agency: “Zero-G Spiderman” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    21/05/2019

    1

    Gravity: we can live with it, and it turns out we can live without it, for a little while anyway.

    Under the elemental force of nature keeping all our parts and planet together, humans thrive. But in weightlessness and funny things begin to happen. Our muscles start to wear away, our bones decay, our balance shifts and our spatial perception falters.

    Astronauts living and working in space are helping researchers determine the acceptable limits of these changes. So too are subjects taking part in experiments here on Earth.

    In this image, a volunteer tries to get to the tennis ball as part of an experiment testing the influence of weightlessness on the perception of distance. He must first determine the distance of the ball from his person under normal gravity conditions by walking blindfolded to it.

    For the microgravity portion of the experiment, researchers set up a sled along which subjects can pull themselves to the ball. In this scenario, the body is reclined and the arms are helping, giving the brain some more signals to work with to estimate the distance.

    The experiment, developed by the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France, is taking place on this week’s parabolic flight campaign aboard a Novespace Zero-G aircraft. The special aircraft simulates different levels of gravity, from 2g to 0g, by flying in parabolas.

    Researchers will compare the results in normal gravity conditions (1g), nearly twice the force on the upward incline of the plane (1.8 g), and at freefall during the plane’s descent (0g).

    Astronauts have long reported spatial disorientation in orbit. Without a grip on where you are in space, it is hard to measure distance. This can affect astronauts’ performance when using the robotic arm or during a spacewalk. To solve the problem, researchers must first assess the full scope of it.

    Previous runs of this experiment had the subjects blind-pulling themselves up or down while sitting up and lying down. In the latest iteration, researchers will test lateral distance perception by having subjects blind-pull themselves to the left and right to the ball.

    The ultimate goals of the experiment are to better understand to what degree gravity or the lack of it affects the sensorimotor (what we see) and neurocognitive (what we think) systems.

    Deeper insights into these systems will help researchers fine tune the countermeasures that help keep astronauts living in space healthy during and after spaceflight.

    On Earth, we deal with gravity every day. We feel it, we fight it, and – more importantly – we investigate it. Space agencies such as ESA routinely launch spacecraft against our planet’s gravity, and sometimes these spacecraft borrow the gravity of Earth or other planets to reach interesting places in the Solar System. We study the gravity field of Earth from orbit, and fly experiments on parabolic flights, sounding rockets and the International Space Station to examine a variety of systems under different gravitational conditions. On the grandest scales, our space science missions explore how gravity affects planets, stars and galaxies across the cosmos and probe how matter behaves in the strong gravitational field created by some of the Universe’s most extreme objects like black holes. Join the conversation online this week following the hashtag #GravityRules

    See the full article here .


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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 2:54 pm on February 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Ask Ethan: How Can We Measure The Curvature Of Spacetime?", A difference in the height of two atomic clocks of even ~1 foot (33 cm) can lead to a measurable difference in the speed at which those clocks run, A team of physicists working in Europe were able to conjugate three atom interferometers simultaneously, At every point you can infer the force of gravity or the amount of spacetime curvature, , Decades before Newton put forth his law of universal gravitation Italian scientists Francesco Grimaldi and Giovanni Riccioli made the first calculations of the gravitational constant G, , , Gravity, In the future it may be possible to extend this technique to measure the curvature of spacetime not just on Earth but on any worlds we can put a lander on. This includes other planets moons asteroids , It’s been over 100 years since Einstein and over 300 since Newton. We’ve still got a long way to go, Making multiple measurements of the field gradient simultaneously allows you to measure G between multiple locations that eliminates a source of error: the error induced when you move the apparatus. B, Pound-Rebka experiment, , The same law of gravity governs the entire Universe, We can do even better than the Pound-Rebka experiment today by using the technology of atomic clocks, You can even infer G the gravitational constant of the Universe.   

    From Ethan Siegel: “Ask Ethan: How Can We Measure The Curvature Of Spacetime?” 

    From Ethan Siegel
    Feb 23, 2019

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    Instead of an empty, blank, 3D grid, putting a mass down causes what would have been ‘straight’ lines to instead become curved by a specific amount. In General Relativity, we treat space and time as continuous, but all forms of energy, including but not limited to mass, contribute to spacetime curvature. For the first time, we can measure the curvature at Earth’s surface, as well as how that curvature changes with altitude. (CHRISTOPHER VITALE OF NETWORKOLOGIES AND THE PRATT INSTITUTE)

    It’s been over 100 years since Einstein, and over 300 since Newton. We’ve still got a long way to go.

    From measuring how objects fall on Earth to observing the motion of the Moon and planets, the same law of gravity governs the entire Universe. From Galileo to Newton to Einstein, our understanding of the most universal force of all still has some major holes in it. It’s the only force without a quantum description. The fundamental constant governing gravitation, G, is so poorly known that many find it embarrassing. And the curvature of the fabric of spacetime itself went unmeasured for a century after Einstein put forth the theory of General Relativity. But much of that has the potential to change dramatically, as our Patreon supporter Nick Delroy realized, asking:

    Can you please explain to us how awesome this is, and what you hope the future holds for gravity measurement. The instrument is obviously localized but my imagination can’t stop coming up with applications for this.

    The big news he’s excited about, of course, is a new experimental technique that measured the curvature of spacetime due to gravity for the first time [Physical Review Letters].

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    The identical behavior of a ball falling to the floor in an accelerated rocket (left) and on Earth (right) is a demonstration of Einstein’s equivalence principle. Although you cannot tell whether an acceleration is due to gravity or any other acceleration from a single measurement, measuring differing accelerations at different points can show whether there’s a gravitational gradient along the direction of acceleration. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS USER MARKUS POESSEL, RETOUCHED BY PBROKS13)

    Think about how you might design an experiment to measure the strength of the gravitational force at any location in space. Your first instinct might be something simple and straightforward: take an object at rest, release it so it’s in free-fall, and observe how it accelerates.

    By measuring the change in position over time, you can reconstruct what the acceleration at this location must be. If you know the rules governing the gravitational force — i.e., you have the correct law of physics, like Newton’s or Einstein’s theories — you can use this information to determine even more information. At every point, you can infer the force of gravity or the amount of spacetime curvature. Beyond that, if you know additional information (like the relevant matter distribution), you can even infer G, the gravitational constant of the Universe.

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    Newton’s law of Universal Gravitation relied on the concept of an instantaneous action (force) at a distance, and is incredibly straightforward. The gravitational constant in this equation, G, along with the values of the two masses and the distance between them, are the only factors in determining a gravitational force. Although Newton’s theory has since been superseded by Einstein’s General Relativity, G also appears in Einstein’s theory. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS USER DENNIS NILSSON)

    This simple approach was the first one taken to investigate the nature of gravity. Building on the work of others, Galileo determined the gravitational acceleration at Earth’s surface. Decades before Newton put forth his law of universal gravitation, Italian scientists Francesco Grimaldi and Giovanni Riccioli made the first calculations of the gravitational constant, G.

    But experiments like this, as valuable as they are, are limited. They can only give you information about gravitation along one dimension: towards the center of the Earth. Acceleration is based on either the sum of all the net forces (Newton) acting on an object, or the net curvature of spacetime (Einstein) at one particular location in the Universe. Since you’re observing an object in free-fall, you’re only getting a simplistic picture.

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    According to legend, the first experiment to show that all objects fell at the same rate, irrespective of mass, was performed by Galileo Galilei atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Any two objects dropped in a gravitational field, in the absence of (or neglecting) air resistance, will accelerate down to the ground at the same rate. This was later codified as part of Newton’s investigations into the matter. (GETTY IMAGES)

    Thankfully, there’s a way to get a multidimensional picture as well: perform an experiment that’s sensitive to changes in the gravitational field/potential as an object changes its position. This was first accomplished, experimentally, in the 1950s by the Pound-Rebka experiment [ Explanation of the Pound-Rebka experiment http://vixra.org/pdf/1212.0035v1.pdf ].

    What the experiment did was cause a nuclear emission at a low elevation, and note that the corresponding nuclear absorption didn’t occur at a higher elevation, presumably due to gravitational redshift, as predicted by Einstein. Yet if you gave the low-elevation emitter a positive boost to its speed, through attaching it to a speaker cone, that extra energy would balance the loss of energy that traveling upwards in a gravitational field extracted. As a result, the arriving photon has the right energy, and absorption occurs. This was one of the classical tests of General Relativity, confirming Einstein where his theory’s predictions departed from Newton’s.

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    Physicist Glen Rebka, at the lower end of the Jefferson Towers, Harvard University, calling Professor Pound on the phone during setup of the famed Pound-Rebka experiment. (CORBIS MEDIA / HARVARD UNIVERSITY)

    We can do even better than the Pound-Rebka experiment today, by using the technology of atomic clocks. These clocks are the best timekeepers in the Universe, having surpassed the best natural clocks — pulsars — decades ago. Now capable of monitoring time differences to some 18 significant features between clocks, Nobel Laureate David Wineland led a team that demonstrated that raising an atomic clock by barely a foot (about 33 cm in the experiment) above another one caused a measurable frequency shift in what the clock registered as a second.

    If we were to take these two clocks to any location on Earth, and adjust the heights as we saw fit, we could understand how the gravitational field changes as a function of elevation. Not only can we measure gravitational acceleration, but the changes in acceleration as we move away from Earth’s surface.

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    A difference in the height of two atomic clocks of even ~1 foot (33 cm) can lead to a measurable difference in the speed at which those clocks run. This allows us to measure not only the strength of the gravitational field, but the gradient of the field as a function of altitude/elevation. (DAVID WINELAND AT PERIMETER INSTITUTE, 2015)



    But even these achievements cannot map out the true curvature of space. That next step wouldn’t be achieved until 2015: exactly 100 years after Einstein first put forth his theory of General Relativity. In addition, there was another problem that has cropped up in the interim, which is the fact that various methods of measuring the gravitational constant, G, appear to give different answers.

    Three different experimental techniques have been used to determine G: torsion balances, torsion pendulums, and atom interferometry experiments. Over the past 15 years, measured values of the gravitational constant have ranged from as high as 6.6757 × 10–11 N/kg2⋅m2 to as low as 6.6719 × 10–11 N/kg2⋅m2. This difference of 0.05%, for a fundamental constant, makes it one of the most poorly-determined constants in all of nature.

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    In 1997, the team of Bagley and Luther performed a torsion balance experiment that yielded a result of 6.674 x 10^-11 N/kg²/m², which was taken seriously enough to cast doubt on the previously reported significance of the determination of G. Note the relatively large variations in the measured values, even since the year 2000.(DBACHMANN / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

    But that’s where the new study, first published in 2015 but refined many times over the past four years, comes in. A team of physicists, working in Europe, were able to conjugate three atom interferometers simultaneously. Instead of using just two locations at different heights, they were able to get the mutual differences between three different heights at a single location on the surface, which enables you to not simply get a single difference, or even the gradient of the gravitational field, but the change in the gradient as a function of distance.

    When you explore how the gravitational field changes as a function of distance, you can understand the shape of the change in spacetime curvature. When you measure the gravitational acceleration in a single location, you’re sensitive to everything around you, including what’s underground and how it’s moving. Measuring the gradient of the field is more informative than just a single value; measuring how that gradient changes gives you even more information.

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    The scheme of the experiment that measures the three atomic groupings launched in rapid sequence and then excited by lasers to measure not only the gravitational acceleration, but showing the effects of the changes in curvature that had never been measured before. (G. ROSI ET AL., PHYS. REV. LETT. 114, 013001, 2015)

    That’s what makes this new technique so powerful. We’re not simply going to a single location and finding out what the gravitational force is. Nor are we going to a location and finding out what the force is and how that force is changing with elevation. Instead, we’re determining the gravitational force, how it changes with elevation, and how the change in the force is changing with elevation.

    “Big deal,” you might say, “we already know the laws of physics. We know what those laws predict. Why should I care that we’re measuring something that confirms to slightly better accuracy what we’ve known should be true all along?”

    Well, there are multiple reasons. One is that making multiple measurements of the field gradient simultaneously allows you to measure G between multiple locations that eliminates a source of error: the error induced when you move the apparatus. By making three measurements, rather than two, simultaneously, you get three differences (between 1 and 2, 2 and 3, and 1 and 3) rather than just 1 (between 1 and 2).

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    The top of the Makkah royal clock tower runs a few quadrillionths of a second faster than the same clock would at the base, due to differences in the gravitational field. Measuring the changes in the gradient of the gravitational field provides even more information, enabling us to finally measure the curvature of space directly. (AL JAZEERA ENGLISH C/O: FADI EL BENNI)

    But another reason that’s perhaps even more important is to better understand the gravitational pull of the objects we’re measuring. The idea that we know the rules governing gravity is true, but we only know what the gravitational force should be if we know the magnitude and distribution of all the masses that are relevant to our measurement. The Earth, for example, is not a uniform structure at all. There are fluctuations in the gravitational strength we experience everywhere we go, dependent on factors like:

    the density of the crust beneath your feet,
    the location of the crust-mantle boundary,
    the extent of isostatic compensation that takes place at that boundary,
    the presence or absence of oil reservoirs or other density-varying deposits underground,

    and so on. If we can implement this technique of three-atom interferometry wherever we like on Earth, we can better understand our planet’s interior simply by making measurements at the surface.

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    Various geologic zones in the Earth’s mantle create and move magma chambers, leading to a variety of geological phenomena. It’s possible that external intervention could trigger a catastrophic event. Improvements in geodesy could improve our understanding of what’s happening, existing, and changing beneath Earth’s surface. (KDS4444 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

    In the future, it may be possible to extend this technique to measure the curvature of spacetime not just on Earth, but on any worlds we can put a lander on. This includes other planets, moons, asteroids and more. If we want to do asteroid mining, this could be the ultimate prospecting tool. We could improve our geodesy experiments significantly, and improve our ability to monitor the planet. We could better track internal changes in magma chambers, as just one example. If we applied this technology to upcoming spacecrafts, it could even help correct for Newtonian noise in next-generation gravitational wave observatories like LISA or beyond.


    ESA/NASA eLISA space based, the future of gravitational wave research

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    The gold-platinum alloy cubes, of central importance to the upcoming LISA mission, have already been built and tested in the proof-of-concept LISA Pathfinder mission.

    ESA/LISA Pathfinder


    This image shows the assembly of one of the Inertial Sensor Heads for the LISA Technology Package (LTP). Improved techniques for accounting for Newtonian noise in the experiment might improve LISA’s sensitivity significantly. (CGS SPA)

    The Universe is not simply made of point masses, but of complex, intricate objects. If we ever hope to tease out the most sensitive signals of all and learn the details that elude us today, we need to become more precise than ever. Thanks to three-atom interferometry, we can, for the first time, directly measure the curvature of space.

    Understanding the Earth’s interior better than ever is the first thing we’re going to gain, but that’s just the beginning. Scientific discovery isn’t the end of the game; it’s the starting point for new applications and novel technologies. Come back in a few years; you might be surprised at what becomes possible based on what we’re learning for the first time today.

    See the full article here .

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    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 11:52 am on December 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AdS/CFT, Beyond Einstein: Physicists find surprising connections in the cosmos, , From tiny bits of string, Gravity, Our world when we get down to the level of particles is a quantum world, , , Relatability between gravity and subatomic particles provides a sort of Rosetta stone for physics, The idea that fundamental particles are actually tiny bits of vibrating string was taking off and by the mid-1980s “string theory” had lassoed the imaginations of many leading physicists,   

    From Princeton University: “Beyond Einstein: Physicists find surprising connections in the cosmos” 

    Princeton University
    From Princeton University

    Dec. 17, 2018
    Catherine Zandonella

    1
    Gravity, the force that brings baseballs back to Earth and governs the growth of black holes, is mathematically relatable to the peculiar antics of the subatomic particles that make up all the matter around us. Illustration by J.F. Podevin

    Albert Einstein’s desk can still be found on the second floor of Princeton’s physics department. Positioned in front of a floor-to-ceiling blackboard covered with equations, the desk seems to embody the spirit of the frizzy-haired genius as he asks the department’s current occupants, “So, have you solved it yet?”

    Einstein never achieved his goal of a unified theory to explain the natural world in a single, coherent framework. Over the last century, researchers have pieced together links between three of the four known physical forces in a “standard model,” but the fourth force, gravity, has always stood alone.

    No longer. Thanks to insights made by Princeton faculty members and others who trained here, gravity is being brought in from the cold — although in a manner not remotely close to how Einstein had imagined it.

    Though not yet a “theory of everything,” this framework, laid down over 20 years ago and still being filled in, reveals surprising ways in which Einstein’s theory of gravity relates to other areas of physics, giving researchers new tools with which to tackle elusive questions.

    The key insight is that gravity, the force that brings baseballs back to Earth and governs the growth of black holes, is mathematically relatable to the peculiar antics of the subatomic particles that make up all the matter around us.

    This revelation allows scientists to use one branch of physics to understand other seemingly unrelated areas of physics. So far, this concept has been applied to topics ranging from why black holes run a temperature to how a butterfly’s beating wings can cause a storm on the other side of the world.

    This relatability between gravity and subatomic particles provides a sort of Rosetta stone for physics. Ask a question about gravity, and you’ll get an explanation couched in the terms of subatomic particles. And vice versa.

    “This has turned out to be an incredibly rich area,” said Igor Klebanov, Princeton’s Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, who generated some of the initial inklings in this field in the 1990s. “It lies at the intersection of many fields of physics.”

    From tiny bits of string

    The seeds of this correspondence were sprinkled in the 1970s, when researchers were exploring tiny subatomic particles called quarks. These entities nest like Russian dolls inside protons, which in turn occupy the atoms that make up all matter. At the time, physicists found it odd that no matter how hard you smash two protons together, you cannot release the quarks — they stay confined inside the protons.

    One person working on quark confinement was Alexander Polyakov, Princeton’s Joseph Henry Professor of Physics. It turns out that quarks are “glued together” by other particles, called gluons. For a while, researchers thought gluons could assemble into strings that tie quarks to each other. Polyakov glimpsed a link between the theory of particles and the theory of strings, but the work was, in Polyakov’s words, “hand-wavy” and he didn’t have precise examples.

    Meanwhile, the idea that fundamental particles are actually tiny bits of vibrating string was taking off, and by the mid-1980s, “string theory” had lassoed the imaginations of many leading physicists. The idea is simple: just as a vibrating violin string gives rise to different notes, each string’s vibration foretells a particle’s mass and behavior. The mathematical beauty was irresistible and led to a swell of enthusiasm for string theory as a way to explain not only particles but the universe itself.

    One of Polyakov’s colleagues was Klebanov, who in 1996 was an associate professor at Princeton, having earned his Ph.D. at Princeton a decade earlier. That year, Klebanov, with graduate student Steven Gubser and postdoctoral research associate Amanda Peet, used string theory to make calculations about gluons, and then compared their findings to a string-theory approach to understanding a black hole. They were surprised to find that both approaches yielded a very similar answer. A year later, Klebanov studied absorption rates by black holes and found that this time they agreed exactly.

    That work was limited to the example of gluons and black holes. It took an insight by Juan Maldacena in 1997 to pull the pieces into a more general relationship. At that time, Maldacena, who had earned his Ph.D. at Princeton one year earlier, was an assistant professor at Harvard. He detected a correspondence between a special form of gravity and the theory that describes particles. Seeing the importance of Maldacena’s conjecture, a Princeton team consisting of Gubser, Klebanov and Polyakov followed up with a related paper formulating the idea in more precise terms.

    Another physicist who was immediately taken with the idea was Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), an independent research center located about a mile from the University campus. He wrote a paper that further formulated the idea, and the combination of the three papers in late 1997 and early 1998 opened the floodgates.

    “It was a fundamentally new kind of connection,” said Witten, a leader in the field of string theory who had earned his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1976 and is a visiting lecturer with the rank of professor in physics at Princeton. “Twenty years later, we haven’t fully come to grips with it.”

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    Two sides of the same coin

    This relationship means that gravity and subatomic particle interactions are like two sides of the same coin. On one side is an extended version of gravity derived from Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity. On the other side is the theory that roughly describes the behavior of subatomic particles and their interactions.

    The latter theory includes the catalogue of particles and forces in the “standard model” (see sidebar), a framework to explain matter and its interactions that has survived rigorous testing in numerous experiments, including at the Large Hadron Collider.

    In the standard model, quantum behaviors are baked in. Our world, when we get down to the level of particles, is a quantum world.

    Notably absent from the standard model is gravity. Yet quantum behavior is at the basis of the other three forces, so why should gravity be immune?

    The new framework brings gravity into the discussion. It is not exactly the gravity we know, but a slightly warped version that includes an extra dimension. The universe we know has four dimensions, the three that pinpoint an object in space — the height, width and depth of Einstein’s desk, for example — plus the fourth dimension of time. The gravitational description adds a fifth dimension that causes spacetime to curve into a universe that includes copies of familiar four-dimensional flat space rescaled according to where they are found in the fifth dimension. This strange, curved spacetime is called anti-de Sitter (AdS) space after Einstein’s collaborator, Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter.

    The breakthrough in the late 1990s was that mathematical calculations of the edge, or boundary, of this anti-de Sitter space can be applied to problems involving quantum behaviors of subatomic particles described by a mathematical relationship called conformal field theory (CFT). This relationship provides the link, which Polyakov had glimpsed earlier, between the theory of particles in four space-time dimensions and string theory in five dimensions. The relationship now goes by several names that relate gravity to particles, but most researchers call it the AdS/CFT (pronounced A-D-S-C-F-T) correspondence.

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    Tackling the big questions

    This correspondence, it turns out, has many practical uses. Take black holes, for example. The late physicist Stephen Hawking startled the physics community by discovering that black holes have a temperature that arises because each particle that falls into a black hole has an entangled particle that can escape as heat.

    Using AdS/CFT, Tadashi Takayanagi and Shinsei Ryu, then at the University of California-Santa Barbara, discovered a new way to study
    entanglement in terms of geometry, extending Hawking’s insights in a fashion that experts consider quite remarkable.

    In another example, researchers are using AdS/CFT to pin down chaos theory, which says that a random and insignificant event such as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings could result in massive changes to a large-scale system such as a faraway hurricane. It is difficult to calculate chaos, but black holes — which are some of the most chaotic quantum systems possible — could help. Work by Stephen Shenker and Douglas Stanford at Stanford University, along with Maldacena, demonstrates how, through AdS/CFT, black holes can model quantum chaos.

    One open question Maldacena hopes the AdS/CFT correspondence will answer is the question of what it is like inside a black hole, where an infinitely dense region called a singularity resides. So far, the relationship gives us a picture of the black hole as seen from the outside, said Maldacena, who is now the Carl P. Feinberg Professor at IAS.

    “We hope to understand the singularity inside the black hole,” Maldacena said. “Understanding this would probably lead to interesting lessons for the Big Bang.”

    The relationship between gravity and strings has also shed new light on quark confinement, initially through work by Polyakov and Witten, and later by Klebanov and Matt Strassler, who was then at IAS.

    Those are just a few examples of how the relationship can be used. “It is a tremendously successful idea,” said Gubser, who today is a professor of physics at Princeton. “It compels one’s attention. It ropes you in, it ropes in other fields, and it gives you a vantage point on theoretical physics that is very compelling.”

    The relationship may even unlock the quantum nature of gravity. “It is among our best clues to understand gravity from a quantum perspective,” said Witten. “Since we don’t know what is still missing, I cannot tell you how big a piece of the picture it ultimately will be.”

    Still, the AdS/CFT correspondence, while powerful, relies on a simplified version of spacetime that is not exactly like the real universe. Researchers are working to find ways to make the theory more broadly applicable to the everyday world, including Gubser’s research on modeling the collisions of heavy ions, as well as high-temperature superconductors.

    Also on the to-do list is developing a proof of this correspondence that draws on underlying physical principles. It is unlikely that Einstein would be satisfied without a proof, said Herman Verlinde, Princeton’s Class of 1909 Professor of Physics, the chair of the Department of Physics and an expert in string theory, who shares office space with Einstein’s desk.

    “Sometimes I imagine he is still sitting there,” Verlinde said, “and I wonder what he would think of our progress.”

    See the full article here .

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    Princeton University Campus

    About Princeton: Overview

    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

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  • richardmitnick 1:50 pm on October 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Gravity, , ,   

    From Symmetry: “Five mysteries the Standard Model can’t explain” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry

    10/18/18
    Oscar Miyamoto Gomez

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.


    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    Our best model of particle physics explains only about 5 percent of the universe.

    The Standard Model is a thing of beauty. It is the most rigorous theory of particle physics, incredibly precise and accurate in its predictions. It mathematically lays out the 17 building blocks of nature: six quarks, six leptons, four force-carrier particles, and the Higgs boson. These are ruled by the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces.

    “As for the question ‘What are we?’ the Standard Model has the answer,” says Saúl Ramos, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “It tells us that every object in the universe is not independent, and that every particle is there for a reason.”

    For the past 50 years such a system has allowed scientists to incorporate particle physics into a single equation that explains most of what we can see in the world around us.

    Despite its great predictive power, however, the Standard Model fails to answer five crucial questions, which is why particle physicists know their work is far from done.

    1
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    1. Why do neutrinos have mass?

    Three of the Standard Model’s particles are different types of neutrinos. The Standard Model predicts that, like photons, neutrinos should have no mass.

    However, scientists have found that the three neutrinos oscillate, or transform into one another, as they move. This feat is only possible because neutrinos are not massless after all.

    “If we use the theories that we have today, we get the wrong answer,” says André de Gouvêa, a professor at Northwestern University.

    The Standard Model got neutrinos wrong, but it remains to be seen just how wrong. After all, the masses neutrinos have are quite small.

    Is that all the Standard Model missed, or is there more that we don’t know about neutrinos? Some experimental results have suggested, for example, that there might be a fourth type of neutrino called a sterile neutrino that we have yet to discover.

    2
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    2. What is dark matter?

    Scientists realized they were missing something when they noticed that galaxies were spinning much faster than they should be, based on the gravitational pull of their visible matter. They were spinning so fast that they should have torn themselves apart. Something we can’t see, which scientists have dubbed “dark matter,” must be giving additional mass—and hence gravitional pull—to these galaxies.

    Dark matter is thought to make up 27 percent of the contents of the universe. But it is not included in the Standard Model.

    Scientists are looking for ways to study this mysterious matter and identify its building blocks. If scientists could show that dark matter interacts in some way with normal matter, “we still would need a new model, but it would mean that new model and the Standard Model are connected,” says Andrea Albert, a researcher at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Laboratory who studies dark matter, among other things, at the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory in Mexico. “That would be a huge game changer.”

    HAWC High Altitude Cherenkov Experiment, located on the flanks of the Sierra Negra volcano in the Mexican state of Puebla at an altitude of 4100 meters(13,500ft), at WikiMiniAtlas 18°59′41″N 97°18′30.6″W. searches for cosmic rays

    3
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    3. Why is there so much matter in the universe?

    Whenever a particle of matter comes into being—for example, in a particle collision in the Large Hadron Collider or in the decay of another particle—normally its antimatter counterpart comes along for the ride. When equal matter and antimatter particles meet, they annihilate one another.

    Scientists suppose that when the universe was formed in the Big Bang, matter and antimatter should have been produced in equal parts. However, some mechanism kept the matter and antimatter from their usual pattern of total destruction, and the universe around us is dominated by matter.

    The Standard Model cannot explain the imbalance. Many different experiments are studying matter and antimatter in search of clues as to what tipped the scales.

    4
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    4. Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating?

    Before scientists were able to measure the expansion of our universe, they guessed that it had started out quickly after the Big Bang and then, over time, had begun to slow. So it came as a shock that, not only was the universe’s expansion not slowing down—it was actually speeding up.

    The latest measurements by the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency observatory Gaia indicate that galaxies are moving away from us at 45 miles per second. That speed multiplies for each additional megaparsec, a distance of 3.2 million light years, relative to our position.

    This rate is believed to come from an unexplained property of space-time called dark energy, which is pushing the universe apart. It is thought to make up around 68 percent of the energy in the universe. “That is something very fundamental that nobody could have anticipated just by looking at the Standard Model,” de Gouvêa says.

    5
    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    5. Is there a particle associated with the force of gravity?

    The Standard Model was not designed to explain gravity. This fourth and weakest force of nature does not seem to have any impact on the subatomic interactions the Standard Model explains.

    But theoretical physicists think a subatomic particle called a graviton might transmit gravity the same way particles called photons carry the electromagnetic force.

    “After the existence of gravitational waves was confirmed by LIGO, we now ask: What is the smallest gravitational wave possible? This is pretty much like asking what a graviton is,” says Alberto Güijosa, a professor at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences at UNAM.

    More to explore

    These five mysteries are the big questions of physics in the 21st century, Ramos says. Yet, there are even more fundamental enigmas, he says: What is the source of space-time geometry? Where do particles get their spin? Why is the strong force so strong while the weak force is so weak?

    There’s much left to explore, Güijosa says. “Even if we end up with a final and perfect theory of everything in our hands, we would still perform experiments in different situations in order to push its limits.”

    “It is a very classic example of the scientific method in action,” Albert says. “With each answer come more questions; nothing is ever done.”

    See the full article here .


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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 11:08 am on September 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dark matter is our leading theory for a reason, , Gravity, Modified Gravity, Modified Gravity Could Soon Be Ruled Out Says New Research On Dwarf Galaxies, New detailed studies of the smallest galaxies could kill off the most studied alternative, Newton’s law of gravity   

    From Ethan Siegel: “Modified Gravity Could Soon Be Ruled Out, Says New Research On Dwarf Galaxies” 

    From Ethan Siegel
    Sep 7, 2018

    Dark matter is our leading theory for a reason. New, detailed studies of the smallest galaxies could kill off the most studied alternative.

    1
    Only approximately 1000 stars are present in the entirety of dwarf galaxies Segue 1 and Segue 3, which has a gravitational mass of 600,000 Suns. The stars making up the dwarf satellite Segue 1 are circled here. If new research is correct, then dark matter will obey a different distribution depending on how star formation, over the galaxy’s history, has heated it. (MARLA GEHA AND KECK OBSERVATORIES)


    Keck Observatory, Maunakea, Hawaii, USA.4,207 m (13,802 ft), above sea level, showing also NASA’s IRTF and NAOJ Subaru

    When you look out at the Universe, there are a few things you’d rationally expect. You’d expect that the same things that made up everything we saw — like atoms and light — made up everything there was. You’d expect that the fundamental laws would apply equally well everywhere you looked, from small scales to large scales. And you’d expect that if you had multiple ways of measuring the same physical quantity, they’d give you the same answer.

    Which is why the dark matter problem is such a puzzle. There are a huge variety of measurements we can make that indicate that about 5/6ths of the Universe, by mass, isn’t made up of any of the known particles. It doesn’t interact with normal matter or light. And if you measure the mass of a galaxy directly, from its light, it doesn’t match the mass you infer from gravity.

    2
    According to models and simulations, all galaxies should be embedded in dark matter halos, whose densities peak at the galactic centers. On long enough timescales, of perhaps a billion years, a single dark matter particle from the outskirts of the halo will complete one orbit. The effects of gas, feedback, star formation, supernovae, and radiation all complicate this environment, making it extremely difficult to extract universal dark matter predictions. (NASA, ESA, AND T. BROWN AND J. TUMLINSON (STSCI))

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Traditionally, the way to approach this problem has been to add a single ingredient: dark matter.

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al


    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    If you assume that the Universe isn’t simply made up of the matter we can directly detect, but that there’s an additional component, you wouldn’t expect that those two mass measurements would line up. If there’s something besides protons, neutrons, and electrons making up the Universe, their gravitational effects would show themselves without necessarily leaving a visible light signature.

    But another option would be to modify the law of gravity. If you simply add in an additional term to Newton’s law of gravity that defines a minimum acceleration scale, you can explain how galaxies rotate to a superior degree to the dark matter idea. The great hope of modified gravity is to reproduce the entire observable Universe without adding in dark matter.

    3
    Individual galaxies could, in principle, be explained by either dark matter or a modification to gravity, but they are not the best evidence we have for what the Universe is made of, or how it got to be the way it is today. (STEFANIA.DELUCA OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

    While attempts to make a modification to gravity that explain all the cosmic observations have proved elusive thus far, this remains the best option to explain how galaxies (and smaller objects) behave. Without a direct detection of a theoretical particle that could be responsible for dark matter, the door must remained open for alternatives. Despite the overwhelming cosmological evidence pointing to dark matter, other options deserve consideration, too.

    4
    Our galaxy is thought to be embedded in an enormous, diffuse dark matter halo, indicating that there must be dark matter flowing through the solar system. But it isn’t very much, density-wise, and that makes it extremely difficult to detect locally. (ROBERT CALDWELL & MARC KAMIONKOWSKI NATURE 458, 587–589 (2009))[Not made available]

    In science, the way you decide which ideas are admissible versus which ones are no longer possible is to put them to the test against one another. Dark matter and modified gravity have a hard time going head-to-head on galactic scales because there are a number of confounding elements involved. For galaxies, star formation, feedback between gas, radiation, and dark matter, as well as stellar winds and complicated merger scenarios make universal predictions difficult on these small scales. Modified gravity might give you much cleaner predictions on these small scales, but fail catastrophically when you attempt to extend these modifications to larger ones, where dark matter achieves its greatest successes.

    5
    The X-ray (pink) and overall matter (blue) maps of various colliding galaxy clusters show a clear separation between normal matter and gravitational effects, some of the strongest evidence for dark matter. Alternative theories now need to be so contrived that they are considered by many to be quite ridiculous. But dark matter and modified gravity are both contenders for explaining the Universe on small (galactic) scales. (X-RAY: NASA/CXC/ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND/D.HARVEY NASA/CXC/DURHAM UNIV/R.MASSEY; OPTICAL/LENSING MAP: NASA, ESA, D. HARVEY (ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE DE LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND) AND R. MASSEY (DURHAM UNIVERSITY, UK))

    NASA/Chandra X-ray Telescope

    But there’s a new paper out [MNRAS] that has devised a brilliant, head-to-head test for dark matter against modified gravity. If the law of gravity is truly different from Einstein’s General Relativity, then it should apply equally well to all galaxies under all conditions.

    If we can find two galaxies with the same mass profiles — where they’re not only the same overall mass, but have the same mass-as-a-function-of-radius as one another — we’d expect them to exhibit the same internal motions as one another. If there’s no dark matter, but just the matter we observe, the force of gravity, even if it’s a modified force of gravity, would have to be the same.

    6
    Some galaxies are observed, if we try to fit them with dark matter, to have a ‘core’ in the center where the density is low, while others have a ‘cusp’ where the density is high. If dark matter gets heated based on the galaxy’s star formation history, this mystery could at last be solved. (J. I. READ, M. G. WALKER, P. STEGER; ARXIV:1808.06634 [above])

    So if we look at two galaxies and see that they don’t match, either at least one of the galaxies must be out of equilibrium, meaning it’s in a state of change, or modified gravity can’t explain it.

    On the other hand, there is a tremendously powerful explanation that dark matter offers that could explain it all, even if both galaxies are in equilibrium. The reason? Because galaxies could have formed stars at different times or different rates, and star-formation history affects not just the normal matter, but the dark matter as well.

    The Illustris Simulation

    7
    While the web of dark matter (purple) might seem to determine cosmic structure formation on its own, the feedback from normal matter (red) can severely impact galactic scales. Even small galaxies are subject to these effects, and if dark matter heats up from star formation, the effect can be quite severe. (ILLUSTRIS COLLABORATION / ILLUSTRIS SIMULATION)

    While it’s true that only normal matter interacts (i.e., scatters) with photons, both normal matter and dark matter should respond to radiation pressure. If a galaxy formed stars only a very long time ago, and not for many billions of years, there should be plenty of dark matter that now populates the inner reaches of a galaxy. But if there has been a lot of recent star formation occurring in multiple bursts, it should evacuate the mass from the galactic center. With less mass there, the orbits of the dark matter particles changes, lowering the inner density of dark matter in the innermost regions. (There was a nice review of this back in 2014 [Nature].) As Justin Read explained in a conversation with him:

    “…radiation pressure, stellar winds and supernovae push the gas (via the usual electromagnetic interaction) and dark matter then responds to the altered central gravitational potential.”

    The best laboratory to test this is with small, dwarf galaxies, where these effects should be the largest.

    8
    Dwarf galaxy NGC 5477 is one of many irregular dwarf galaxies. The blue regions are indicative of new star formation, but many such galaxies have formed no new stars in many billions of years. Even with the same light profiles, their mass profiles appear to be different, a challenge for modified theories of gravity. (NASA/ESA Hubble)

    If the galaxies all demonstrate the same gravitational behavior, it would be a victory for modified gravity. But if we can trace out the star-formation histories of these galaxies — which we can do by examining the stellar populations found inside them — and if these galaxies exhibit different gravitational behaviors because of them, that would be a victory for dark matter, and a blow to the theories of modified gravity that make contrary predictions.

    The number of galaxies we’ve found and examined to test this is small, but in a new paper [https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.06634v1 (above)] led by Justin Read, they look at 16 such galaxies, and find that the dark matter “heating” explanation appears to work!

    9
    The dwarf ‘twins’ Carina and Draco: a challenge for alternative gravity explanations for DM. The solid and dashed black and purple lines show predictions for Draco and Carina in MOND, which clearly fare poorly. Despite their similarities in terms of light, stellar kinematics imply that Draco is substantially denser than Carina. (FIG 7. FROM J. I. READ, M. G. WALKER, P. STEGER; ARXIV:1808.06634 [above])

    They looked at 8 dwarf spheroidal and 8 dwarf irregular galaxies, and found that there were two populations: one where star formation hasn’t occurred for the past 6 billion years, and one where it has. The ones where star formation didn’t occur recently are consistent with lots of dark mass in the center (no recent heating), and the ones where it did occur recently show far less dark matter in their centers (evidence for recent heating). It’s an indication that there is dark matter, it is cold and collisionless, and that it can be heated up by recent star formation.

    10
    The Draco dwarf spheroidal galaxy is one of the 16 galaxies examined in the Read et al. paper, and displays extremely different mass profiles from its gravitational effects than the Carina galaxy, which otherwise appears extremely similar except for a different star formation history. (BERNHARD HUBL / ASTROPHOTON.COM)

    Carina Nebula. 1.5-m Danish telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory


    ESO Danish 1.54 meter telescope at La Silla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    In particular, two of the galaxies (Draco and Carina) have almost the same masses and normal mass profiles, but widely different gravitational effects.

    11
    The Carina dwarf galaxy, very similar in size, star distribution, and morphology to the Draco dwarf galaxy, exhibits a very different gravitational profile from Draco. This can be cleanly explained with dark matter if it can be heated up by star formation, but not by modified gravity. (ESO/G. BONO & CTIO)

    The authors note:

    These two galaxies require different dynamical mass profiles for almost the same radial light profile. This is a challenge not only for MOND, but for any weak-field gravity theory that seeks to fully explain DM.

    Mordehai Milgrom, MOND theorist, is an Israeli physicist and professor in the department of Condensed Matter Physics at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel

    The fact that these two galaxies exhibit such different gravitational effects tell us that either something is very funny with one of them (something must be out-of-equilibrium), or that dark matter gets heated up by star formation and modified gravity cannot explain this. As always, more data, additional galaxies, and further research will be required to solve this mystery, but at long last, we’re looking at a viable way to prove modified gravity wrong on galaxy scales. Even without directly detecting a particle, dark matter might just achieve a knockout blow over its greatest competing alternative.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    See the full article here .

    “Starts With A Bang! is a blog/video blog about cosmology, physics, astronomy, and anything else I find interesting enough to write about. I am a firm believer that the highest good in life is learning, and the greatest evil is willful ignorance. The goal of everything on this site is to help inform you about our world, how we came to be here, and to understand how it all works. As I write these pages for you, I hope to not only explain to you what we know, think, and believe, but how we know it, and why we draw the conclusions we do. It is my hope that you find this interesting, informative, and accessible,” says Ethan

     
  • richardmitnick 9:05 am on August 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bouncing barrier, , , Gravity, , NASA Researchers Find Evidence of Planet-Building Clumps, Planetesimal formation   

    From NASA Ames: “NASA Researchers Find Evidence of Planet-Building Clumps” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    From NASA AMES

    Aug. 21, 2018
    Darryl Waller
    NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley
    650-604-2675
    darryl.e.waller@nasa.gov

    Noah Michelsohn
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
    281-483-5111
    noah.j.michelsohn@nasa.gov

    1
    False-color image of Allendale meteorite showing the apparent golf ball size clumps. Credits: NASA/J. Simon and J. Cuzzi

    NASA scientists have found the first evidence supporting a theory that golf ball-size clumps of space dust formed the building blocks of our terrestrial planets.

    A new paper from planetary scientists at the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, provides evidence for an astrophysical theory called “pebble accretion” where golf ball-sized clumps of space dust came together to form tiny planets, called planetesimals, during the early stages of planetary formation.

    “This is very exciting because our research provides the first direct evidence supporting this theory,” said Justin Simon, a planetary researcher in ARES. “There have been a lot of theories about planetesimal formation, but many have been stymied by a factor called the ‘bouncing barrier.’”

    “The bouncing barrier principle stipulates that planets cannot form directly through the accumulation of small dust particles colliding in space because the impact would knock off previously attached aggregates, stalling growth. Astrophysicists had hypothesized that once the clumps grew to the size of a golf ball, any small particle colliding with the clump would knock other material off. Yet, if the colliding objects were not the size of a particle, but much larger – for example, clumps of dust the size of a golf ball – that they could exhibit enough gravity to hold themselves together in clusters to form larger bodies.”

    2
    Mosaic photograph of the ancient Northwest Africa 5717 ordinary chondrite with clusters of particles. Credits: NASA/J. Simon and J. Cuzzi

    The research provides evidence of a common, possibly universal, dust sticking process from studying two ancient meteorites – Allende and Northwest Africa 5717 – that formed in the pre-planetary period of the Solar System and have remained largely unaltered since that time. Scientists know through dating methods that these meteorites are older than Earth, Moon, and Mars, which means they have remained unaltered since the birth of the Solar System. The meteorites studied for this research are so old that they are often used to date the Solar System itself.

    The meteorites were analyzed using electron microscope images and high-resolution photomicrographs that showed particles within the meteorite slices appeared to concentrate together in three to four-centimeter clumps. The existence of the clumps demonstrates that the meteorites themselves were produced by the clustering of golf ball-sized objects, providing strong evidence that the process was possible for other bodies as well.

    The research, titled “Particle size distributions in chondritic meteorites: Evidence for pre-planetesimal histories,” was published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters in July. The publication culminated six years of research that was led by planetary scientists Simon at Johnson and Jeffrey Cuzzi at Ames.

    Dig up more about how NASA studies meteorites, visit:

    https://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 4:33 pm on August 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Anomalies, Bosons and fermions, Branes, , , , Gravity, Murray Gell-Mann, Parity violation, , , , , , , The second superstring revolution, Theorist John Schwarz   

    From Caltech: “Long and Winding Road: A Conversation with String Theory Pioneer” John Schwarz 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    08/20/2018

    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395-1856
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    John Schwarz discusses the history and evolution of superstring theory.

    1
    John Schwarz. Credit: Seth Hansen for Caltech

    The decades-long quest for a theory that would unify all the known forces—from the microscopic quantum realm to the macroscopic world where gravity dominates—has had many twists and turns. The current leading theory, known as superstring theory and more informally as string theory, grew out of an approach to theoretical particle physics, called S-matrix theory, which was popular in the 1960s. Caltech’s John H. Schwarz, the Harold Brown Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, began working on the problem in 1971, while a junior faculty member at Princeton University. He moved to Caltech in 1972, where he continued his research with various collaborators from other universities. Their studies in the 1970s and 1980s would dramatically shift the evolution of the theory and, in 1984, usher in what’s known as the first superstring revolution.

    Essentially, string theory postulates that our universe is made up, at its most fundamental level, of infinitesimal tiny vibrating strings and contains 10 dimensions—three for space, one for time, and six other spatial dimensions curled up in such a way that we don’t perceive them in everyday life or even with the most sensitive experimental searches to date. One of the many states of a string is thought to correspond to the particle that carries the gravitational force, the graviton, thereby linking the two pillars of fundamental physics—quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity, which includes gravity.

    We sat down with Schwarz to discuss the history and evolution of string theory and how the theory itself might have moved past strings.

    What are the earliest origins of string theory?

    The first study often regarded as the beginning of string theory came from an Italian physicist named Gabriele Veneziano in 1968. He discovered a mathematical formula that had many of the properties that people were trying to incorporate in a fundamental theory of the strong nuclear force [a fundamental force that holds nuclei together]. This formula was kind of pulled out of the blue, and ultimately Veneziano and others realized, within a couple years, that it was actually describing a quantum theory of a string—a one-dimensional extended object.

    How did the field grow after this paper?

    In the early ’70s, there were several hundred people worldwide working on string theory. But then everything changed when quantum chromodynamics, or QCD—which was developed by Caltech’s Murray Gell-Mann [Nobel Laureate, 1969] and others—became the favored theory of the strong nuclear force. Almost everyone was convinced QCD was the right way to go and stopped working on string theory. The field shrank down to just a handful of people in the course of a year or two. I was one of the ones who remained.

    How did Gell-Mann become interested in your work?

    Gell-Mann is the one who brought me to Caltech and was very supportive of my work. He took an interest in studies I had done with a French physicist, André Neveu, when we were at Princeton. Neveu and I introduced a second string theory. The initial Veneziano version had many problems. There are two kinds of fundamental particles called bosons and fermions, and the Veneziano theory only described bosons. The one I developed with Neveu included fermions. And not only did it include fermions but it led to the discovery of a new kind of symmetry that relates bosons and fermions, which is called supersymmetry. Because of that discovery, this version of string theory is called superstring theory.

    When did the field take off again?

    A pivotal change happened after work I did with another French physicist, Joël Scherk, whom Gell-Mann and I had brought to Caltech as a visitor in 1974. During that period, we realized that many of the problems we were having with string theory could be turned into advantages if we changed the purpose. Instead of insisting on constructing a theory of the strong nuclear force, we took this beautiful theory and asked what it was good for. And it turned out it was good for gravity. Neither of us had worked on gravity. It wasn’t something we were especially interested in but we realized that this theory, which was having trouble describing the strong nuclear force, gives rise to gravity. Once we realized this, I knew what I would be doing for the rest of my career. And I believe Joël felt the same way. Unfortunately, he died six years later. He made several important discoveries during those six years, including a supergravity theory in 11 dimensions.

    Surprisingly, the community didn’t respond very much to our papers and lectures. We were generally respected and never had a problem getting our papers published, but there wasn’t much interest in the idea. We were proposing a quantum theory of gravity, but in that era physicists who worked on quantum theory weren’t interested in gravity, and physicists who worked on gravity weren’t interested in quantum theory.

    That changed after I met Michael Green [a theoretical physicist then at the University of London and now at the University of Cambridge], at the CERN cafeteria in Switzerland in the summer of 1979. Our collaboration was very successful, and Michael visited Caltech for several extended visits over the next few years. We published a number of papers during that period, which are much cited, but our most famous work was something we did in 1984, which had to do with a problem known as anomalies.

    What are anomalies in string theory?

    One of the facts of nature is that there is what’s called parity violation, which means that the fundamental laws are not invariant under mirror reflection. For example, a neutrino always spins clockwise and not counterclockwise, so it would look wrong viewed in a mirror. When you try to write down a fundamental theory with parity violation, mathematical inconsistencies often arise when you take account of quantum effects. This is referred to as the anomaly problem. It appeared that one couldn’t make a theory based on strings without encountering these anomalies, which, if that were the case, would mean strings couldn’t give a realistic theory. Green and I discovered that these anomalies cancel one another in very special situations.

    When we released our results in 1984, the field exploded. That’s when Edward Witten [a theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton], probably the most influential theoretical physicist in the world, got interested. Witten and three collaborators wrote a paper early in 1985 making a particular proposal for what to do with the six extra dimensions, the ones other than the four for space and time. That proposal looked, at the time, as if it could give a theory that is quite realistic. These developments, together with the discovery of another version of superstring theory, constituted the first superstring revolution.

    Richard Feynman was here at Caltech during that time, before he passed away in 1988. What did he think about string theory?

    After the 1984 to 1985 breakthroughs in our understanding of superstring theory, the subject no longer could be ignored. At that time it acquired some prominent critics, including Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking. Feynman’s skepticism of superstring theory was based mostly on the concern that it could not be tested experimentally. This was a valid concern, which my collaborators and I shared. However, Feynman did want to learn more, so I spent several hours explaining the essential ideas to him. Thirty years later, it is still true that there is no smoking-gun experimental confirmation of superstring theory, though it has proved its value in other ways. The most likely possibility for experimental support in the foreseeable future would be the discovery of supersymmetry particles. So far, they have not shown up.

    What was the second superstring revolution about?

    The second superstring revolution occurred 10 years later in the mid ’90s. What happened then is that string theorists discovered what happens when particle interactions become strong. Before, we had been studying weakly interacting systems. But as you crank up the strength of the interaction, a 10th dimension of space can emerge. New objects called branes also emerge. Strings are one dimensional; branes have all sorts of dimensions ranging from zero to nine. An important class of these branes, called D-branes, was discovered by the late Joseph Polchinski [BS ’75]. Strings do have a special role, but when the system is strongly interacting, then the strings become less fundamental. It’s possible that in the future the subject will get a new name but until we understand better what the theory is, which we’re still struggling with, it’s premature to invent a new name.

    What can we say now about the future of string theory?

    It’s now over 30 years since a large community of scientists began pooling their talents, and there’s been enormous progress in those 30 years. But the more big problems we solve, the more new questions arise. So, you don’t even know the right questions to ask until you solve the previous questions. Interestingly, some of the biggest spin-offs of our efforts to find the most fundamental theory of nature are in pure mathematics.

    Do you think string theory will ultimately unify the forces of nature?

    Yes, but I don’t think we’ll have a final answer in my lifetime. The journey has been worth it, even if it did take some unusual twists and turns. I’m convinced that, in other intelligent civilizations throughout the galaxy, similar discoveries will occur, or already have occurred, in a different sequence than ours. We’ll find the same result and reach the same conclusions as other civilizations, but we’ll get there by a very different route.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 11:11 am on August 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gravity, Is Gravity Quantum?, , , ,   

    From Scientific American: “Is Gravity Quantum?” 

    Scientific American

    From Scientific American

    August 14, 2018
    Charles Q. Choi

    1
    Artist’s rendition of gravitational waves generated by merging neutron stars. The primordial universe is another source of gravitational waves, which, if detected, could help physicists devise a quantum theory of gravity. Credit: R. Hurt, Caltech-JPL

    All the fundamental forces of the universe are known to follow the laws of quantum mechanics, save one: gravity. Finding a way to fit gravity into quantum mechanics would bring scientists a giant leap closer to a “theory of everything” that could entirely explain the workings of the cosmos from first principles. A crucial first step in this quest to know whether gravity is quantum is to detect the long-postulated elementary particle of gravity, the graviton. In search of the graviton, physicists are now turning to experiments involving microscopic superconductors, free-falling crystals and the afterglow of the big bang.

    Quantum mechanics suggests everything is made of quanta, or packets of energy, that can behave like both a particle and a wave—for instance, quanta of light are called photons. Detecting gravitons, the hypothetical quanta of gravity, would prove gravity is quantum. The problem is that gravity is extraordinarily weak. To directly observe the minuscule effects a graviton would have on matter, physicist Freeman Dyson famously noted, a graviton detector would have to be so massive that it collapses on itself to form a black hole.

    “One of the issues with theories of quantum gravity is that their predictions are usually nearly impossible to experimentally test,” says quantum physicist Richard Norte of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. “This is the main reason why there exist so many competing theories and why we haven’t been successful in understanding how it actually works.”

    In 2015 [Physical Review Letters], however, theoretical physicist James Quach, now at the University of Adelaide in Australia, suggested a way to detect gravitons by taking advantage of their quantum nature. Quantum mechanics suggests the universe is inherently fuzzy—for instance, one can never absolutely know a particle’s position and momentum at the same time. One consequence of this uncertainty is that a vacuum is never completely empty, but instead buzzes with a “quantum foam” of so-called virtual particles that constantly pop in and out of existence. These ghostly entities may be any kind of quanta, including gravitons.

    Decades ago, scientists found that virtual particles can generate detectable forces. For example, the Casimir effect is the attraction or repulsion seen between two mirrors placed close together in vacuum. These reflective surfaces move due to the force generated by virtual photons winking in and out of existence. Previous research suggested that superconductors might reflect gravitons more strongly than normal matter, so Quach calculated that looking for interactions between two thin superconducting sheets in vacuum could reveal a gravitational Casimir effect. The resulting force could be roughly 10 times stronger than that expected from the standard virtual-photon-based Casimir effect.

    Recently, Norte and his colleagues developed a microchip to perform this experiment. This chip held two microscopic aluminum-coated plates that were cooled almost to absolute zero so that they became superconducting. One plate was attached to a movable mirror, and a laser was fired at that mirror. If the plates moved because of a gravitational Casimir effect, the frequency of light reflecting off the mirror would measurably shift. As detailed online July 20 in Physical Review Letters, the scientists failed to see any gravitational Casimir effect. This null result does not necessarily rule out the existence of gravitons—and thus gravity’s quantum nature. Rather, it may simply mean that gravitons do not interact with superconductors as strongly as prior work estimated, says quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek of the Massachusets Institute of Technology, who did not participate in this study and was unsurprised by its null results. Even so, Quach says, this “was a courageous attempt to detect gravitons.”

    Although Norte’s microchip did not discover whether gravity is quantum, other scientists are pursuing a variety of approaches to find gravitational quantum effects. For example, in 2017 two independent studies suggested that if gravity is quantum it could generate a link known as “entanglement” between particles, so that one particle instantaneously influences another no matter where either is located in the cosmos. A tabletop experiment using laser beams and microscopic diamonds might help search for such gravity-based entanglement. The crystals would be kept in a vacuum to avoid collisions with atoms, so they would interact with one another through gravity alone. Scientists would let these diamonds fall at the same time, and if gravity is quantum the gravitational pull each crystal exerts on the other could entangle them together.

    The researchers would seek out entanglement by shining lasers into each diamond’s heart after the drop. If particles in the crystals’ centers spin one way, they would fluoresce, but they would not if they spin the other way. If the spins in both crystals are in sync more often than chance would predict, this would suggest entanglement. “Experimentalists all over the world are curious to take the challenge up,” says quantum gravity researcher Anupam Mazumdar of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, co-author of one of the entanglement studies.

    Another strategy to find evidence for quantum gravity is to look at the cosmic microwave background [CMB] radiation, the faint afterglow of the big bang, says cosmologist Alan Guth of M.I.T.

    Cosmic Background Radiation per ESA/Planck

    ESA/Planck 2009 to 2013

    Quanta such as gravitons fluctuate like waves, and the shortest wavelengths would have the most intense fluctuations. When the cosmos expanded staggeringly in size within a sliver of a second after the big bang, according to Guth’s widely supported cosmological model known as inflation, these short wavelengths would have stretched to longer scales across the universe.

    Inflation

    4
    Alan Guth, from Highland Park High School and M.I.T., who first proposed cosmic inflation

    HPHS Owls

    Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Big Bang-Inflation (timeline of the universe) Date 2010 Credit: Alex MittelmannColdcreation

    Alan Guth’s notes:
    5

    This evidence of quantum gravity could be visible as swirls in the polarization, or alignment, of photons from the cosmic microwave background radiation.

    However, the intensity of these patterns of swirls, known as B-modes, depends very much on the exact energy and timing of inflation. “Some versions of inflation predict that these B-modes should be found soon, while other versions predict that the B-modes are so weak that there will never be any hope of detecting them,” Guth says. “But if they are found, and the properties match the expectations from inflation, it would be very strong evidence that gravity is quantized.”

    One more way to find out whether gravity is quantum is to look directly for quantum fluctuations in gravitational waves, which are thought to be made up of gravitons that were generated shortly after the big bang. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) first detected gravitational waves in 2016, but it is not sensitive enough to detect the fluctuating gravitational waves in the early universe that inflation stretched to cosmic scales, Guth says.


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    A gravitational-wave observatory in space, such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA, just above), could potentially detect these waves, Wilczek adds.

    In a paper recently accepted by the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, however, astrophysicist Richard Lieu of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, argues that LIGO should already have detected gravitons if they carry as much energy as some current models of particle physics suggest. It might be that the graviton just packs less energy than expected, but Lieu suggests it might also mean the graviton does not exist. “If the graviton does not exist at all, it will be good news to most physicists, since we have been having such a horrid time in developing a theory of quantum gravity,” Lieu says.

    Still, devising theories that eliminate the graviton may be no easier than devising theories that keep it. “From a theoretical point of view, it is very hard to imagine how gravity could avoid being quantized,” Guth says. “I am not aware of any sensible theory of how classical gravity could interact with quantum matter, and I can’t imagine how such a theory might work.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 2:21 pm on September 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: But quantum mechanics doesn’t really define what a measurement is, Gravity, Gravity at its most fundamental comes in indivisible parcels called quanta, GRW model-Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory, In quantum theory the state of a particle is described by its wave function, Much like the electromagnetic force comes in quanta called photons, , ,   

    From New Scientist: “Gravity may be created by strange flashes in the quantum realm” 

    NewScientist

    New Scientist

    20 September 2017
    Anil Ananthaswamy

    1
    Gravity comes about in a flash. Emma Johnson/Getty

    HOW do you reconcile the two pillars of modern physics: quantum theory and gravity? One or both will have to give way. A new approach says gravity could emerge from random fluctuations at the quantum level, making quantum mechanics the more fundamental of the two theories.

    Of our two main explanations of reality, quantum theory governs the interactions between the smallest bits of matter. And general relativity deals with gravity and the largest structures in the universe. Ever since Einstein, physicists have been trying to bridge the gap between the two, with little success.

    Part of the problem is knowing which strands of each theory are fundamental to our understanding of reality.

    One approach towards reconciling gravity with quantum mechanics has been to show that gravity at its most fundamental comes in indivisible parcels called quanta, much like the electromagnetic force comes in quanta called photons. But this road to a theory of quantum gravity has so far proved impassable.

    Now Antoine Tilloy at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, has attempted to get at gravity by tweaking standard quantum mechanics.

    In quantum theory, the state of a particle is described by its wave function. The wave function lets you calculate, for example, the probability of finding the particle in one place or another on measurement. Before the measurement, it is unclear whether the particle exists and if so, where. Reality, it seems, is created by the act of measurement, which “collapses” the wave function.

    But quantum mechanics doesn’t really define what a measurement is. For instance, does it need a conscious human? The measurement problem leads to paradoxes like Schrödinger’s cat, in which a cat can be simultaneously dead and alive inside a box, until someone opens the box to look.

    One solution to such paradoxes is a so-called GRW model that was developed in the late 1980s. It incorporates “flashes”, which are spontaneous random collapses of the wave function of quantum systems. The outcome is exactly as if there were measurements being made, but without explicit observers.

    Tilloy has modified this model to show how it can lead to a theory of gravity. In his model, when a flash collapses a wave function and causes a particle to be in one place, it creates a gravitational field at that instant in space-time. A massive quantum system with a large number of particles is subject to numerous flashes, and the result is a fluctuating gravitational field.

    It turns out that the average of these fluctuations is a gravitational field that one expects from Newton’s theory of gravity (arxiv.org/abs/1709.03809). This approach to unifying gravity with quantum mechanics is called semiclassical: gravity arises from quantum processes but remains a classical force. “There is no real reason to ignore this semiclassical approach, to having gravity being classical at the fundamental level,” says Tilloy.

    “I like this idea in principle,” says Klaus Hornberger at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. But he points out that other problems need to be tackled before this approach can be a serious contender for unifying all the fundamental forces underpinning the laws of physics on scales large and small. For example, Tilloy’s model can be used to get gravity as described by Newton’s theory, but the maths still has to be worked out to see if it is effective in describing gravity as governed by Einstein’s general relativity.

    Tilloy agrees. “This is very hard to generalise to relativistic settings,” he says. He also cautions that no one knows which of the many tweaks to quantum mechanics is the correct one.

    Nonetheless, his model makes predictions that can be tested. For example, it predicts that gravity will behave differently at the scale of atoms from how it does on larger scales. Should those tests find that Tilloy’s model reflects reality and gravity does indeed originate from collapsing quantum fluctuations, it would be a big clue that the path to a theory of everything would involve semiclassical gravity.

    See the full article here .

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