Tagged With physics

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Car crashes, nuclear explosions and even asteroid impacts are relatively puny compared with some of our universe's other explosive events. Heck, a violent, seemingly infinitely hot explosion is probably what set the whole universe in motion in the first place. So big collisions, like those between black holes many times the mass of our sun, could have some pretty wild consequences. Like scarring spacetime itself.

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FERNEY-VOLTAIRE, FRANCE — Some particle physics experiments are easier to ride than others. The giant detectors that take pictures of particle collisions on kilometres-round rings don't really have anywhere to sit, and the intense bureaucracy would probably demand an unwieldy amount of paperwork for would-be riders. The thing that stopped me from riding the whale-sized CAST experiment, however, wasn't fear of disrupting its search for dark matter particles. It was that deputy spokesperson Giovanni Cantatore misplaced the harness.

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — Hiding in the suburbs behind trees and a meadow with furry brown donkeys is a warehouse with an elevator that only visits negative floors. Hundreds of feet down, hyper complex detectors inside an octagonal tube the colour and size of a large barn whistle loudly and peer like cameras at protons, the positively charged bits at the center of every atom. Those cameras may have just produced an exotic phase of matter in a brand new way. Maybe.

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Conceptually, particle physics experiments are surprisingly simple. Smash a buttload of particles together, and look at what comes out. The results will either confirm whatever the business-as-usual theory is, or, if there's a really crystal clear deviation from that theory, they might prove some new hypothesis about some new particles. But the middle ground, where the difference between what we know and what we see is still fuzzy, is where a lot of results live.

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The past few years have been incredible for physics discoveries. Scientists spotted the Higgs boson, a particle they'd been hunting for almost 50 years, in 2012, and gravitational waves, which were theorised 100 years ago, in 2016. This year, they're slated to take a picture of a black hole. So, thought some theorists, why not combine all of the craziest physics ideas into one, a physics turducken? What if we, say, try to spot the dark matter radiating off of black holes through their gravitational waves?