Light That Is Not Light Interacts With Light That Is

Some of the strangest truths are found in physics. One of the rarest events humans have detected is the spontaneous turning of a photon of light into a virtual pair, an electron and a positron. Scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider beneath the French-Swiss border recently detected, after recording trillions upon trillions of events where photons did what was expected, that is, ignore each other, found 59 cases where photons did interact due to being very temporarily in this virtual pair state. In case you didn’t realize it, photons are tiny little bits of light. In fact, they’re the … Continue reading Light That Is Not Light Interacts With Light That Is

Videos: The Simplest Motors

They look so simple that they should not work, yet homopolar motors do. A homopolar motor is a direct current (DC) electric motor which produces constant circular motion due to this fact: an electric current flowing through a wire that is in a magnetic field feels a force pushing it. The same force can be used in a different way: Unfortunately you can’t get much useful power out of this type of motor due to poor efficiency inherent in the design, but it’s an interesting demonstration. – Continue reading Videos: The Simplest Motors

Video: Copper’s Surprising Reaction to Strong Magnets

This video is fascinating to me, the best strange thing for today. It shows magnetic breaking using a large copper plate and a strong neodymium magnet. The slowing of momentum looks almost supernatural, like something in the Matrix. The large copper plate is not magnetic, but it slows a strong magnet’s movement due to rapidly induced electron movement in the plate which creates temporary electromagnetic forces to oppose the approaching magnet. There is no attraction or repulsion in this interaction, just resistance to change. Can you think of practical uses for this effect? Brakes on trains and roller coasters are … Continue reading Video: Copper’s Surprising Reaction to Strong Magnets

Theory: Before Big Bang, Time Ran Backward in Mirror Universe

Here’s a strange theory: our universe has a mirror image where time runs backwards. If a mirror image of our universe existed before the big bang, it might simplify a lot of things in physics. Like a mountain looming over a calm lake, it seems the universe may once have had a perfect mirror image. That’s the conclusion a team of Canadian scientists reached after extrapolating the laws of the universe both before and after the Big Bang. Physicists have a pretty good idea of the structure of the universe just a couple of seconds after the Big Bang, moving … Continue reading Theory: Before Big Bang, Time Ran Backward in Mirror Universe

Claim: Cooling Without Energy Consumption

These scientists didn’t break a law of physics, but it appeared so at first. The second law of thermodynamics, one of the fundamental rules of this universe, says that heat can flow by itself only from a warmer to a colder object. Now, however, in the strangest claim I’ve found for this Sunday morning, researchers at the physics department in Zurich used a Peltier element to cool a nine-gram piece of copper from over 100°C to significantly below room temperature without an external power supply. Heat will not leave a cold object for a warmer one (to further cool the … Continue reading Claim: Cooling Without Energy Consumption

Space, the Final Illusion?

The most surprising thing I heard recently, which I believe will prove to be true, is that distance is not real, at least not in the way we think of it. Lee Smolin, a professor of physics, has an impressive article at which speculates that space and distance are a certain kind of illusion, an average of more fundamental processes. The beauty of this view is that it explains repeated observations that entangled particles influence each other instantly at a distance, faster than the speed of light, which should be, by our current model of space-time, impossible. … the … Continue reading Space, the Final Illusion?

The Largest Known Structure in the Universe

The scale of the universe is mind-boggling. Within that boggle is a strange fact: the largest “structure” we have observed in the universe is so large that it should not exist according to current science. The largest structure (so far as of March 29, 2019) is the “Her-Cr Great Wall”. Why should this sheet-like group of galaxies not exist, though? Well, the universe’s maximum light travel distance is supposed to be only 13 billion years. With the speed of light is a constant and given the known expansion rate of the universe, the Her-Cr Great Wall structure should not have … Continue reading The Largest Known Structure in the Universe

A Rock is a Clock: Physicist Uses Matter to Tell Time

What is stranger than time itself? Have you thought about what time is? Wondering about that since he was a kid growing up in Germany lead Holger Müller to come up with a fundamentally new way to measure time as assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. To accomplish this, he used the fact that matter, like light, has a frequency. Taking advantage of the fact that, in nature, matter can be both a particle and a wave, he has discovered a way to tell time by counting the oscillations of a matter wave. A matter wave’s … Continue reading A Rock is a Clock: Physicist Uses Matter to Tell Time

Higgs-like particle suggests end to universe

Did you konw that an expanding bubble of nothingness could make the entire earth wink out of existence in an instant? It could, according to physics, but some have calculated the odds are exceedingly low that this will ever happen. Most certainly, nothingness will not engulf the earth in our time. If that is wrong, you will never know it. This photo of supernova (explosion of a star) SNR 0509-67.5 was recently released by NASA and is a testament to how beautiful even the farthest reaches of the natural (or celestial) world can be. The pink ring is the gas … Continue reading Higgs-like particle suggests end to universe