Reports and comment on stories making the news about E = mc 2 , relativity and physics in general.

E = mc

2

 & relativity in the news

Gravitational wave detector switched on (Sept 15) Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, first predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein, and are the result of masses accelerating and so distorting the fabric of space around them. The waves travel at the speed of light but are extremely weak (this is true of gravity in general, which is by far the weakest of the four forces). So far there has been no direct evidence of their existence but indirect evidence comes from a number of sources such as binary star systems and black holes. The goal is to be able to detect direct evidence for gravitational waves, and the latest iteration of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has just come on-stream to try to do just that. Full story here: Advanced Ligo: Labs 'open their ears' to the cosmos
Nobel Prize for Neutrino Flip (Oct 15) Neutrinos are some of the strangest particles in the universe. Produced in stars, including our own Sun, they are almost mass- less and are only outnumbered by photons. They are so small and so numerous that around 65 billion pass through each square centimetre of the Earth and everything on it every second. In the time it takes to read this sentence many hundreds of billions of them will have passed right through you, even if you are on the night side of the Earth. Few, if any, will have interacted with the matter in your body. The discovery that neutrinos can flip between one “flavour” and another is a major breakthrough in understanding particle physics and is another step towards understanding the star at the centre of our solar system. Full story here: Neutrino 'flip' wins physics Nobel Prize
A neutrino detector
First picture of a black hole’s event horizon in 2017 (Jan 16) Preparations are being made to take the first ever “picture” of a black hole’s event horizon, that of Sagittarius A*, using a network of radio telescopes in 2017. Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, around 26,000 light years from Earth, and has a diameter 17 times larger than the Sun. The object is so massive that it bends space-time around itself many millions of times more than our home star does, greatly warping the path of light around it as it does so. The observations will focus on the movement of gas spinning around the black hole allowing its speed to be measured using the Doppler effect. Full story here: Event horizon snapshot due in 2017
Artist’s impression of gas around a black hole
Gravitational waves from black holes discovered (Feb 16) Scientists working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo) have announced the observation of gravitational waves, resulting from the collision and merging of two black holes, each with around 30 times the mass of the Sun. These are the first observations of gravity waves following many years of searching and steady improvements to the detection equipment. If confirmed, as seems likely, it opens up a new way of observing the Universe and will almost certainly change our understanding as much as when the first optical telescopes were pointed to the sky around 400 years ago. And, as with the first optical, radio, infra-red and other telescopes, with the ability to detect gravity waves questions won’t just be answered and theories tested, but new questions will arise that haven’t even been thought of yet, and discoveries made of new objects and phenomena that weren’t even suspected. It really is a major step forward in astronomy. The discovery also offers further and stunning evidence for Einstein’s theory of relativity, whose equations first predicted gravity ripples 100 years ago. Full story here: Gravity waves detected
Two black holes (at the centre of the picture) colliding and merging, and causing ripples in space-time as they do so.
Strange matter wins Nobel physics prize (Oct 16) Three British-born scientists have been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on exotic forms of matter. Using mathematical models the three researchers described matter in unusual states, such as those found in superconductors and superfluids, in which matter is cooled to very near absolute zero. Once this is done the matter exhibits strange behaviour, such as never losing electrical energy due to resistance, and counter-intuitive behaviour in which fluids can flow up hill. The discoveries are already being employed in research into a new generation of super-fast computers using quantum computation, such as the Microsoft Q project. Full story here: Nobel Prize and Strange Matter
Liquid helium at near absolute zero climbing up and out of a container.
Reports and comment on stories making the news about E = mc 2 , relativity and physics in general.
Nobel Prize for Neutrino Flip (Oct 15) Neutrinos are some of the strangest particles in the universe. Produced in stars, including our own Sun, they are almost mass-less and are only outnumbered by photons. They are so small and so numerous that around 65 billion pass through each square centimetre of the Earth and everything on it every second. In the time it takes to read this sentence many hundreds of billions of them will have passed right through you, even if you are on the night side of the Earth. Few, if any, will have interacted with the matter in your body. The discovery that neutrinos can flip between one “flavour” and another is a major breakthrough in understanding particle physics and is another step towards understanding the star at the centre of our solar system. Full story here: Neutrino 'flip' wins physics Nobel Prize
A neutrino detector
Gravitational wave detector switched on (Sept 15) Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, first predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein, and are the result of masses accelerating and so distorting the fabric of space around them. The waves travel at the speed of light but are extremely weak (this is true of gravity in general, which is by far the weakest of the four forces). So far there has been no direct evidence of their existence but indirect evidence comes from a number of sources such as binary star systems and black holes. The goal is to be able to detect direct evidence for gravitational waves, and the latest iteration of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has just come on-stream to try to do just that. Full story here: Advanced Ligo: Labs 'open their ears' to the cosmos
The Advanced LIGO

E = mc

2

 & relativity in the news

First picture of a black hole’s event horizon in 2017 (Jan 16) Preparations are being made to take the first ever “picture” of a black hole’s event horizon, that of Sagittarius A*, using a network of radio telescopes in 2017. Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, around 26,000 light years from Earth, and has a diameter 17 times larger than the Sun. The object is so massive that it bends space-time around itself many millions of times more than our home star does, greatly warping the path of light around it as it does so. The observations will focus on the movement of gas spinning around the black hole allowing its speed to be measured using the Doppler effect. Full story here: Event horizon snapshot due in 2017
Artist’s impression of gas around a black hole
Gravitational waves from black holes discovered (Feb 16) Scientists working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational- Wave Observatory (Ligo) have announced the observation of gravitational waves, resulting from the collision and merging of two black holes, each with around 30 times the mass of the Sun. These are the first observations of gravity waves following many years of searching and steady improvements to the detection equipment. If confirmed, as seems likely, it opens up a new way of observing the Universe and will almost certainly change our understanding as much as when the first optical telescopes were pointed to the sky around 400 years ago. And, as with the first optical, radio, infra-red and other telescopes, with the ability to detect gravity waves questions won’t just be answered and theories tested, but new questions will arise that haven’t even been thought of yet, and discoveries made of new objects and phenomena that weren’t even suspected. It really is a major step forward in astronomy. The discovery also offers further and stunning evidence for Einstein’s theory of relativity, whose equations first predicted gravity ripples 100 years ago. Full story here: Gravity waves detected
Two black holes (at the centre of the picture) colliding and merging, and causing ripples in space-time as they do so.
Strange matter wins Nobel physics prize (Oct 16) Three British-born scientists have been jointly awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on exotic forms of matter. Using mathematical models the three researchers described matter in unusual states, such as those found in superconductors and superfluids, in which matter is cooled to very near absolute zero. Once this is done the matter exhibits strange behaviour, such as never losing electrical energy due to resistance, and counter-intuitive behaviour in which fluids can flow up hill. The discoveries are already being employed in research into a new generation of super-fast computers using quantum computation, such as the Microsoft Q project. Full story here: Nobel Prize and Strange Matter
Liquid helium at near absolute zero climbing up and out of a container.