“BLACK HOLE MYSTERY” says the cover of a recent Scientific American. “The first supermassive black holes formed earlier than seems possible.” The author is Yale astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan. “What are scientists missing?” the cover asks. Maybe the answer is: A grasp of quantum space and the topology of twist. It’s a massive problem in more […]
Tag Archives: Sundance Bilson-Thompson
Ant-Man and the Sundance Kid
Ant-Man is back this week in a new sci-fi movie. Rumor says your favorite shrinking superhero’s set to shrink even smaller than before. This could set a trend. Will we soon see Ant-Man in action all the way down to Planck-scale? The sixties comics and the 2015 movie Ant-Man were about scale and a suit […]
The Sundance Story: The greatest (also the smallest) discovery of the science era
Strange all this Difference should be ’Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee! — John Byrom (1692 – 1763) Twist and shout … Come on and work it on out — Phil Medley & Bert Berns (1961) Australian physicist Sundance Bilson-Thompson made a stunning discovery. He starts with a simple entity—a tiny twist. With the quirky humor that […]
A whole new strategy for studying extremely tiny things may draw us closer to observing how Planck-scale physics works
He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. – J.R.R. Tolkien Particle physics treats the electron as having zero size. But recently its size and even its shape have been the subject of serious investigations. They hinge on a simple but audacious question: If the electron […]
At last an answer: What happened at the Big Bang
What exactly happened when the universe was born? What happened at the Big Bang? is the title of last summer’s popular science exhibition sponsored by six leading British universities and the Royal Society in London. Amid much fascinating information, the exhibition’s answer was: We don’t know. Yet, as Science Seen’s readers will recall, that answer […]
The universe has an arithmetic of its own that answers a deep question about the nature of math.
Here’s a burning question behind the facade of math: Is math a property of the universe that we discover (a view philosophy calls realism); or is math an invention of our minds (fictionalism)? If “our” math is a property of the universe then we may get it right or wrong but we can’t change it; […]
What is Planck-scale physics and why does it matter?
The Planck-scale physics story begins long ago. In 1901 German physicist Max Planck publishes an explanation for strange properties of radiant heat. He says its energy is quantized. In other words, it radiates in distinct little bits. He sees this as a mathematical convenience and doesn’t really believe it. His math requires a constant he […]
Twin mysteries: A ghostly fundamental particle and a physicist who disappeared after saying its antiparticle may not exist
Twin mysteries arose around 1937 when Italian theoretical physicist Ettore Majorana suggested neutrinos are their own antiparticles. Soon afterward he took the night ferry from Palermo to Napoli and vanished, leaving us to ask: What happened to him; and was he right? The Standard Model has a place for every known elementary particle. It says […]
A new look at the tiny photon answers some vexing questions and offers a big opportunity.
Albert Einstein introduced the photon to the world more than 100 years ago. Though physicists doubted—even ridiculed—his idea for years, it set off a scientific revolution. The photon now underpins foundations of the world economy. Yet to this day it is a mystery. Even when we know a photon has gone from A to B […]