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Ask Ethan #13: Where does matter come from?

“If you see an antimatter version of yourself running towards you, think twice before embracing.” -J. Richard Gott III It may not occur to you that it’s a special thing that the Earth and everything found on it is made of matter; it seems intuitive that it couldn’t be any other way. And yet, the…

How Big is Our Observable Universe?

“The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes When General Relativity supplanted Newton’s work as our theory of how gravity works in the Universe, it didn’t just change how we view how masses attract, it gave us a new understanding of what the questions where…

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” -Albert Einstein It may be hard to believe, seeing as how it’s been our leading theory of gravity for nearly a century now, but Einstein’s General Relativity is possibly the most frequently challenged scientific idea of all-time. Of course, it’s emerged victorious from each and…

“Other than the laws of physics, rules have never really worked out for me.” -Craig Ferguson Earlier this week, evidence was presented measuring a very rare decay rate — albeit not incredibly precisely — which point towards the Standard Model being it as far as new particles accessible to colliders (such as the LHC) go.…

How “Quantum” is the Big Bang?

There is a very techincal paper this morning by Martin Bojowald that asks the question, How Quantum Is The Big Bang? Let me break it down for you. If you took a look at empty space and zoomed in on it, looking at spaces so small that they made a proton look like a basketball,…

The Story of Neptune

(This is adapted from my public lecture, Afraid of the Dark: How We Know What We Can’t See.) Let’s go back over 200 years ago, to 1781. William Herschel (left) discovered the planet Uranus, noticing that an object, as bright as a star, was actually moving relative to the other stars. The other five inner…

Will the LHC Create Dark Matter?

Hector writes in and asks about someone from Sheffield in the UK who says that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will create Dark Matter: The massive ATLAS detector will measure the debris from collisions occurring in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which recreates the conditions found in the early universe during the Big Bang when…

Ethan takes on Johannes Kepler

Can you believe that I had a fight today with someone who’s been dead for over 350 years, and I’m losing? — Ethan, yesterday Of course you can believe it, when the man I’m fighting with is Johannes Kepler. I don’t get a chance to tell you about my research very often, mostly because it’s…

DAMA is at it Again!

Remember how I told you earlier this week that DAMA was going to announce that they found dark matter, even though the signal that they found is not consistent with other experiments? Looks like my powers of predicting the future are pretty damned good. They have a new plot with more data showing the continued…

Dark Matter: Anything Practical About It?

Yesterday, my good friend (and SWAB reader) Brian wrote a great comment about the practical reasons to explore space, where he talked about the overall economic impact that Space Exploration has had on the economy, as well as the impact it has had on our knowledge and understanding of the Earth, its environment, and how…