Archive for the ‘Physics Stuff’ Category


Go Ask Alice

In Books,Music,Physics Stuff on November 10, 2010 by Sukrit Tagged: , ,

File:Alice par John Tenniel 04.png

First the lyrics of White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said;


Now ofcourse to the Physics.

LHC has gone from colliding teeny-tiny photons to heavy led ions in just 4 days. The development marks the beggining of the ALICE experiment, which has been designed specifically for heavy-ion collisions and is seeking to recreate the conditions that existed just 10–11 s after the Big Bang.  At this time, the energy in the universe was so concentrated that protons and neutrons could not hold together – instead, space began to be filled with a dense soup of subatomic particles known as quark–gluon plasma. This thick dense atomic soup gaurds the mystrey of the strong force. Go Ask Alice.

Quarks are the constituent of the most stable of the sub-atomic forms the hadrons (protons and neutrons, LHC- Large Hadron collider !, get i now). Quarks come in distinct shape and sizes and physicists characteristically have give the names suiting their personalities – top, bottom, up, down, strange and charm. This is what makes theoretical physics so beautiful. Anyways lets go back to ALICE.

ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) has as its main goal to characterize the quark gluon plasma resulting from the Pb-Pb collission. The force holding the quarks and gluons together is the Strong Force, the force responsible for providing upto 98% mass of the atoms and yet very poorly understood. ALICE will study the particles resulting from the collissions in a hope to better understand this force. To do this, the detector was specifically designed to track large numbers of particles. It can detect up to 15,000 particles per event, which may be produced from the collisions between lead nuclei occurring in the centre of the detector.

CERN has created Mini Big-bangs (to be taken literally). The energy levels have reached 2.76 Tev with the resulting temperature more or less around ten trillion degrees !! Needless to say this has broken all past records. Check out the really cool pics released by NASA.

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Hawking Radiation

In authors and stuff,Physics Stuff on September 27, 2010 by Sukrit Tagged: , ,

Physicists have been looking long and wide for a trace of the elusive Hawking Radiation. But they have been beaten to it by a bunch of guys who claim to have produced it in the lab. From a figment of theoretical balderdash Hawking radiation now has the chance to become an empirical footnote. As is the case, I am far ahead of myself. Sort of like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five.

Hawking Radiation ? No prizes for guessing the origins of its name. Stephen Hawking has been called many things ; among them is the title of the greatest physicist of our age. His greatest achievement till date has been his hypothesis of Hawking Radiation : Black Holes have entropy. Black Holes piss in the form radiation . This radiation is called Hawking Radiation. On the face of it ; it seems absurd. If it weren’t i woudn’t be writing about it and people wont be reading about it. I have this attraction for the absurd and abstruse; hard to figure out why. Perhaps i too was kidnapped and frisked away to the planet of Tralfamadore. Damn this Vonnegut guy and his telegraphic schizophrenic narration style.

So back to Black Holes it is. Black Holes are called black for a reason -Light cant escape from it. Since light cant nothing else can. The archaic view in cosmology was to consider black holes as dull, static fragments of the universe- old and forgotten. But Hawking changed all that. Here’s how: The universe (and vacuum in particular) is filled with pairs of particles-antiparticles zooming in and out of existence. These rapidly annihilate and directly return their energy to vacuum. Hawing realised that if one of the pair were to cross the event horizon, it could never return. But its partner on the other side would be free to go. To an observer it would look as if the black hole were producing a constant stream of quantum particles, which became known as Hawking radiation.

Anyone could have figured out Hawking radiation provided he looked at the edge of the Black Hole. But to realize that a black hole edge would so radically alter things takes a genuis. People (idiots mostly) usually question the genuis of Hawking. Well , as i said before – They are idiots.

Now physicists have discovered a fancy way of producing and detecting this radiation thingy- something with liquids and light. In principle they have created a white hole (formally equal and opposite of a black hole) in the lab. To read the details click here.


PS: I just lurrrve Slaughterhouse-Five.

“Well here we are, Mr Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

There are enough pics of Hawking on this blog. I wanna put one of Vonnegut. Damn, i wish i had his hair.


Energy is Not Conserved

In Physics Stuff on August 10, 2010 by Sukrit Tagged: , , ,

No, the title is not a spoof. It’s in fact a very subtle and deep statement concerning the Universe. But rather than going on and on about it i’ll post a couple of very interesting links. But first the following :

“Any Universe can arise from anything or nothing. Inflation produced our whole Universe from a tiny seed; it’s the ultimate free lunch cooked by Alan Guth. So if your energy is conserved, the energy of anything must be equal to the energy of anything else, for example to the energy of nothing, so it must be zero. 🙂 “

1. Energy is Not Conserved by by Sean Carroll

I’ve been meaning to link to this post at the arXiv blog, which is a great source of quirky and interesting new papers. In this case they are pointing to a speculative but interesting paper by Martin Perl and Holger Mueller, which suggests an experimental search for gradients in dark energy by way of atom interferometry.

But I’m unable to get past this part of the blog post:

The notion of dark energy is peculiar, even by cosmological standards.

Cosmologists have foisted the idea upon us to explain the apparent accelerating expansion of the Universe. They say that this acceleration is caused by energy that fills space at a density of 10-10 joules per cubic metre.

What’s strange about this idea is that as space expands, so too does the amount of energy. If you’ve spotted the flaw in this argument, you’re not alone. Forgetting the law of conservation of energy is no small oversight.

Continue Reading ….

2. Why and How Energy is not conserved in Cosmology ?

Phil Gibbs is convinced that all relativists are wrong when they say that the energy conservation law is weakened, trivialized, corrected, or violated in general relativity in any way.

But they are right. 😉 Let me explain.

What is energy?

In different physical situations, we use different formulae for “energy” but we always want the “same convertible currency” that may be summarized as follows:

Energy is the scalar quantity that is conserved as a result of the time-translational invariance of the laws of physics.

This deep relationship between symmetries of the laws of Nature – in this case the invariance under the translations in time – and the conservation laws was discovered by Fraulein Emmy Amalie Noether – who is worshiped by young mathematicians such as the Gentleman on the picture.




To Boldly Go:My Life in Physics by Stephen Hawking

In Physics Stuff on August 6, 2010 by Sukrit Tagged: , ,

Stephen Hawking just back from his trip to the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, Waterloo wrote an interesting article in cosmos. The article sums up his research and theoretical stance over a long, exciting and certainly tumultuous career.

I’d recommend everyone to read it, whether they understand the physics in there or not. Stephen Hawking is one of the few great Physicists of our time and an inspiration to everyone. You certainly dont need me to tell you that.

Every few years a young dandy comes along full of swagger questioning the worth of Stephen Hawking. They will do well to remember this :

It is one of the greatest equations you will ever come across. Just imagine- entropy, Quantum Mechanics (h), Gravity (G) and speed of light(c) in one single equation ! Dazzling! and certainly a bit unnerving.


PS: By the by that equation represents the entropy of a Black Hole.

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