Author Archives: jkkw

Discovery of a New Particle may change Physics

A recent article on CBC reveals a shocking discovery that could change the world that we know today. Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois found a new particle that is different from the ones that we are familiar with. This new particle was discovered through the help of the Tevatron particle accelerator. The accelerator data showed an unusually high peak, which after analysis, was determined to be a new particle.

The collision detector found at Fermilab

Particle accelerators try to discover or uncover particles by accelerating them in a chamber. The particles are accelerated near the speed of light, and through these high-speed collisions, scientists hope to gain data that might reveal new particles. The unusual high peak from the accelerator’s data led to the creation of a new particle, called the W boson, and two cones of particles, called hadronic jets.

The new particle created ripples in the scientific community due to the fact that they do not conform to the structure predicted by the Standard Model. Physicists are boggled by this, and this new particle could in fact lead to more research.  However, the scientists at Fermilab are cautious with their findings. They are still waiting for results from Large Hadron Collider and see if the scientists there could reproduce the peak using identical parameters. Also, they are trying to eliminate the fact that this peak could have been achieved by accident – that this wasn’t a ‘fluke.’

If the same results are achieved, the world as we know it might be a little bit more different.

Mercury – NASA’s Fifth Planetary Conquest

Image of Mercury from previous Messenger missions. From NASA.

After years of planning and development, NASA’s space probe Messenger finally fell into Mercury’s orbit Thursday evening. At 9:10 p.m. of March 17, when the last rocket that projected Messenger shut off and the probe fell into Mercury’s gravity pull, scientists at the control room in John Hopkin’s University started in a round of applause.

Mercury is the fifth planet that NASA spacecrafts have orbited. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and lacks an atmosphere. This means that Mercury’s surface is super heated by the sun during daytime but drops to hundreds of degrees below freezing at night. Also, without an atmosphere, Mercury’s surface is heavily cratered. The vast temperature different implies that ice could be found inside the craters. The Mercury probe hopes to bring back a year of photography that would help in the research of the creation of Mercury and its composition. With this goal in mind, surveillance of the probe is needed for the next few days. Constant checks on the probe’s health systems, testing of the scientific equipment that is on board is essentially so that the vast amount of data can be collected and  transmitted back to Earth.

This massive project started in 2004 with a budget of $446 million. Hopefully, the probe will bring back valuable data that would useful for planetary scientists to determine the evolution of Mercury.

Messenger also hits close to UBC as one of the Earth and Ocean Science professors, Dr. Catherine Johnson, participated in the project. Dr. Johnson is a participating scientist in the project and hopes to discover the reasons behind Mercury’s magnetic field. The probe Messenger hopefully will gather data that will be of use to Dr. Johnson.

The Fifth Dimension

An article posted in the Technology and Science section of indicates that physicists are currently trying to discover the fifth (and even the sixth, seventh, or eighth) dimension with new breakthrough technologies.

It has been claimed that there are four dimensions – the three spatial dimensions and the fourth one being time. However, physicists claim that there are more dimensions that make up our universe. The two leading physicists that support this theory are Lisa Randall from Harvard University and Raman Sundrum from John Hopkins University. Randall and Sundrum’s theories help provide explanations for some of the most profound scientific dilemmas since Einstein’s time.

The lightness of gravity

The weakness of gravity was always a mystery to physicists. In Randall’s book called Warped Passages, she states, “A tiny magnet can lift a paper clip, even though all the mass of the earth is pulling it in the opposite direction.”

By having more dimensions, string theorists – physicists that believe that the building blocks of all the matter in the universe are string-like particles vibrating with their own frequencies – can create formulas and equations that could explain the weakness of gravity.

Smashing particles

With new technology like a new underground particle accelerator, new dimensions could be discovered. New dimensions are hard to detect due to our inability to see them – our human eyes can only perceive the three spatial dimensions. The underground particle accelerator would be able to show the new dimension – the evidence would be a new class of particles that had the same charge as the normal particles but with extra mass. This extra mass indicates that the particles gained extra momentum that propelled them into the fifth dimension.

It seems like in the immediate future, the fifth, sixth or even the eleventh dimension could be discovered. The physics that we come to learn today might be obsolete and so it seems like those science fiction books that people read might be true after all!

Warm Atlantic Water flowing into the Arctic Ocean

In an article on the Montreal Gazette that was posted today, data collected from a German research boat Maria S. Merian shows that the temperature of the Atlantic water that flows into the Arctic Ocean is at an all time high. The temperature of the Atlantic is at its highest in the last 2000 years. The warmer Atlantic water contributes to the “Atlantic meltdown” that have been occurring, which consists of ice retreat and ice melting.

This is a cause for concern as these changes in the ocean currents affects the Earth’s climate. Past historical records show that changes in the North Atlantic Current bring drastic effects on our climate. It resulted in cold and warm periods that had temperatures plummeting in the northern Europe during the Dark Ages and rising again in the medieval times, then dropping a little again during the Ice Ages.

Long term studies of the effects still need to be conducted as there are no other records that could be cross referenced. There are only few records that date back 150 years, so the research team had resorted to using fossils that are temperature sensitive to record the temperature change.

Perhaps the results of the research will bring caution to the human race and ultimately influence changes in our lifestyles.