News in Brief
Puny particles have given scientists a glimpse inside the Earth.
For the first time, physicists have measured the planet’s mass using neutrinos, minuscule subatomic particles that can pass straight through the entire planet. Researchers also used the particles to probe the Earth’s innards, studying how the planet’s density varies from crust to core.
Typically, scientists determine...
Electrons are still almost perfectly round, a new measurement shows. A more squished shape could hint at the presence of never-before-seen subatomic particles, so the result stymies the search for new physics.
The electron gets its shape from the way that positive and negative charges are distributed inside the particle. The best theory for how particles behave, called the standard model...
This could be the way the world ends.
First, a pair of cosmic protons smash together at unimaginable speeds. The tremendous energy of their crash would create a tiny, ephemeral black hole, so small that it would last just a fraction of a second before evaporating.
Where the black hole just was, a bubble of space with entirely different laws of physics than the universe we inhabit...
Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize–winning particle physicist who lifted back the curtain to the subatomic world, died on October 3 at the age of 96.
His work revealed the existence of multiple new elementary particles — with names like the muon neutrino and the bottom quark — showing that the realm of the infinitesimal was more complex than previously thought. The muon neutrino discovery...
Dangling from a balloon high above Antarctica, a particle detector has spotted something that standard physics is at a loss to explain.
Two unusual signals seen by the detector, known as the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna, or ANITA, can’t be attributed to any known particles, a team of physicists at Penn State reports online September 25 at arXiv.org. The result hints at the...
Diana Parno’s head swam when she first stepped inside the enormous, metallic vessel of the experiment KATRIN. Within the house-sized, oblong structure, everything was symmetrical, clean and blindingly shiny, says Parno, a physicist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “It was incredibly disorienting.”
Now, electrons — thankfully immune to bouts of dizziness — traverse the inside...
Letters to the Editor
Fighting fake news09/19/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Health, Particle Physics
Computer programmers are building deception-detecting algorithms to fight the onslaught of fake news, Maria Temming reported in “People are bad at spotting fake news. Can computer programs do better?"(SN: 8/4/18, p. 22).
Reader Lou Floyd found the story compelling and troubling. “It points [to] a major problem facing us all today that affects the very foundation of...
When I think of an experiment, I think of some flasks, a pipette, maybe an incubator. But to a particle physicist, an experiment can be a machine bigger than a house, designed to study subatomic particles.09/19/2018 - 07:00 Science & Society, Particle Physics
There’s a certain charm to the fact that such vast equipment has to be constructed to study the smallest known bits of matter. The tunnel of the Large Hadron Collider has a...
An enormous future particle detector is now within closer reach. The first data from a prototype experiment hint that scientists may have what it takes to build the planned neutrino detector.
Known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, the experiment will use 70,000 metric tons of liquefied argon to study the secrets of these neutrinos — bizarre, nearly massless particles...
Particle accelerator technology has crested a new wave.
For the first time, scientists have shown that electrons can gain energy by surfing waves kicked up by protons shot through plasma. In the future, the technique might help produce electron beams at higher energies than currently possible, in order to investigate the inner workings of subatomic particles.