Physics of the Universe

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Plans to fine-tune the Hubble constant even further are underway. Meanwhile, Australian researchers are taking a different approach and applying the method used by Planck to the nearby universe. UK solar scientist Lucie Green doesn't just do blue sky research. She's also investigated how solar flares can royally fritz the finance industry.

Physics of the Universe

Andrew Masterson reports. Digital Issues Buy a back issue. Renew my subscription Give a Gift Manage my subscription. News Physics 01 March New physics needed to explain the universe, study finds. More accurate estimates of the Hubble Constant throw current models off-track. Lauren Fuge reports. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope are providing new information about how fast the universe is expanding. The cosmological constant may not be constant, after all Physics.

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Explore Hubble Space Telescope astrophysics. Lauren Fuge is an author and science communicator based in Canada.

  1. More accurate estimates of the Hubble Constant throw current models off-track. Lauren Fuge reports.?
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Looking for more science? Click here to see our subscription options. Click here to see our gift options. Recommended for you. Scientists hunt the anti-particle that could explain the universe Can a neutrino be its own anti-particle? This last one, looking at a process in the mirror, is called the symmetry of parity.

Most subatomic interactions in physics give you the exact same result whether they're done right in front of you or in the mirror. But some interactions violate this symmetry, like the weak nuclear force, especially when neutrinos are produced in interactions involving that force. Neutrinos always spin "backward" in other words, the axis of their spin points away from their direction of motion , while antineutrinos spin "forward" their axis of spin points straight ahead as they fly around.

That means there are very subtle differences in the numbers of neutrinos and antineutrinos produced when you run a regular, versus a mirror-flipped experiment that relies on the weak nuclear force. Nature's Tiniest Particles Dissected ]. As far as we know, the weak nuclear force and the weak nuclear force alone violates the symmetry of parity. But maybe it's not alone.

We know that physics beyond what we currently understand must exist. And some of those hypothetical ideas and concepts also violate the symmetry of parity. For example, some of these theories predict subtle asymmetries in otherwise-normal interactions that involve the kinds of particles the LHC typically examines.

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  • Of course, these hypothetical ideas are exotic, complex and very hard to test. And in many cases, we're not exactly sure what we're looking for. The problem is that while we know that our current conception of the particle world, called the Standard Model, is incomplete, we don't know where to look for its replacement.

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    Many physicists hoped that the LHC would reveal something — a new particle, a new interaction, anything at all — that would point us toward something new and exciting, but so far all those searches have failed. Many of the former front-runner theories for what's beyond the Standard Model like supersymmetry are slowly being ruled out.

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    This is where parity-symmetry violation might come in handy. Almost all common hypothetical extensions to the Standard Model include the limitation that only the weak nuclear force violates parity symmetry. This is baked into the fundamental mathematics of the models, in case you were wondering how this works. That means concepts like supersymmetry, axions and leptoquarks all keep this symmetry breaking exactly where it is, and nowhere else.

    But look, folks, if these common extensions aren't panning out, maybe it's time to broaden our horizons. For that reason, a team of researchers searched for parity violations in a cache of data released by the Compact Muon Solenoid CMS experiment at the LHC; they detailed their results in a study published April 29 to the preprint server arXiv.

    This was a pretty tricky search, since the LHC isn't really set up to look for parity violations.

    But the researchers cleverly figured out a way to do it by examining the leftovers in interactions between other particles. The result: No hints of parity violation were found. Hooray for the Standard Model again.

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