What’s the News: In high school physics classes, students are often taught that static electricity develops when electrons detach from the surface of one object and jump to another, causing a difference in charge. Since opposite charges attract, the two objects are drawn to one another (like your hair to a balloon). But new research published in the journal Science shows that static electricity is caused by more than just the exchange of individual electrons, and instead involves the transfer of bigger (yet still tiny) clumps of material.
Particle physicists hunting for the Higgs boson reported their latest findings yesterday at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Paris. The big two–Europe’s Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab’s Tevatron Collider (in Illinois)–gave updates, and other conference buzz included talk of a new facility, the International Linear Collider, which may one day give physicists a cleaner look at the other colliders’ results.
Large Hadron Collider — More Detailed Models Help the Search
Currently operating at 7 Tera electron Volts (TeV), the Large Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Though electrical malfunctions hindered the collider in 2008, now LHC scientists report that they have made up for lost time: finding in months, what took the Tevatron, with its 2 TeV collisions, decades.
“The scientific community thought it would take one, maybe two years to get to this level, but it happened in three months,” said Guy Wormser, a top French physicist and chairman of the conference.[AFP]
To test the basics of quantum theory, physicists recently pulled out an antique. In a paper published today in Science, they confirmed a staple of quantum mechanics, using a test derived from a classic nineteenth century light experiment.
In particular, the researchers questioned how particles move through three slits, something previously too difficult to measure. They found that the particles behaved just like quantum theory–or more specifically the Born Rule–would have predicted.
As physicist Chad Orzel describes in his blog, that’s bad news for theorists hoping to tweak this rule to solve Nobel Prize-worthy problems related to quantum gravity or Grand Unifying Theories.
[The study is good news if] you’re the ghost of Max Born, or the author of an introductory quantum book…. This was disappointing news for some theorists, though, as there are a number of ways to approach problems … that would require some modification of the Born rule. [Uncertain Principles]
But how did they do it?