Friday, April 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tag: physics

Are clouds effected by the extra terrestrial?
Science & Technology

Are clouds effected by the extra terrestrial?

Cosmic rays are charged particles that come from outer space and bombard the Earth’s atmosphere. These particles usually decay in the early stages of the Earth’s atmosphere, raining down a shower of product particles onto the Earth’s surface. If you have never heard about cosmic rays, this may seem very alarming. But the fact is that these particles have been showering over you for your entire life, and can cause little harm. However, a collaboration of scientists from across the globe have been wondering whether this continuous barrage of extra terrestrial particles has an effect on the Earth’s atmosphere, and more particularly its cloud formation. To investigate this question, the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD) experiment, was formed. Since 1750 the Earth’s surface temperature...
The Hunt for the Unseen
Science & Technology

The Hunt for the Unseen

Throughout it’s history, the human race has delved far into the mysteries of the Universe: why are we here? Where did the Universe come from? What is the Universe made of? These questions have sparked interest and exploration for millennia, and we have come a very long way in that time. It has been approximately 2500 years since the Ancient Greeks started to formulate their ideas about the Universe we live in. Since then the human race has become to probe the true nature of the Universe itself to answer these questions, and it is the final question that has the whole physics community stumped: what is the Universe made from? An experiment named WMAP measured the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Radiation of the Universe, which is made from photons that have been travelling since the be...
Learning to See in the Dark
Science & Technology

Learning to See in the Dark

Dark matter makes up 26.8% of our Universe’s energy and mass, yet we know practically nothing about it. In fact we only really know about luminous matter, such as that we are made from or see in our every day life and this only amounts to about 4% of the Universe’s energy and mass. So called, dark matter remains to this day an extremely illusive entity, only ever evidenced by cosmologists when looking at the discrepancy between the gravitational pull of a galaxy, and the mass within the galaxy. It seems that the galaxies must have much more matter within them than is visible. So what is this invisible, dark matter? Perhaps we’re about to find out. New results of the temperature of the early universe from the EDGES all-sky radio antenna experiment could change our view on dark matter enti...
How will it all end?
Science & Technology

How will it all end?

Everyone always asks the question: ‘Where did we come from?’. Well why not look from the other perspective, ‘How will it all end?’ The true fate of the Universe lies, as bizarre as it may seem, in its geometry. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity formulates a particular set of field equations that have within them an unknown parameter. This parameter is known as the curvature of space-time, literally the shape of space and time, the very fabric of reality itself. Einstein proposed three situations of this parameter, known as: the “open universe”, a negative curvature leading to a saddle-like shape; the “flat universe”, where curvature is zero and thus the universe is flat; and the “closed universe”, a ballooned shaped universe with a positive curvature. Each of these situations have...
Rewriting Physics
Science & Technology

Rewriting Physics

One of the most commonly used phrases in the news about physics is: “the discovery that could rewrite physics”, or at least words to that effect and this got me wondering; does it take a discovery to rewrite physics? Can we only think again if we find what we were looking for? Or do we truly have to think of something new if we don’t make this discovery? What happens if what we were looking for wasn’t there, does this mean that the Universe is more boring than we thought, or is it just vastly more complex than we could even imagine? In this article I shall endeavour to convince you that the fun really starts when we get everything wrong. Our Universe is governed by some unique set of laws that are more wacky, more ridiculous than you could ever intuitively think of. The fact is, not a s...
There’s something wrong with the Sun!
Science & Technology

There’s something wrong with the Sun!

Something is wrong with the Sun! It seems that the Sun has lost 1500 times the mass of the Earth, and no one quite knows why! There is a hole in our knowledge of the Sun, and we don’t know what fills it. This is an important problem not just because the Sun is the source of our heat, and ultimately life on Earth, but it is in fact what we base most of our understanding of stars on. If we have the Sun wrong, then we’ve probably got every other star in the night sky wrong too! It is thought that our Sun is mainly comprised of light elements such as hydrogen and helium, which are the source of our star’s nuclear fusion (the bringing together of two light nuclei to make heavy nuclei). However, along with these two light elements are some heavier elements such as carbon, nitrogen and iron, w...
Einstein’s Idea
Science & Technology

Einstein’s Idea

On 15 September 2015, the illusive gravitational waves were detected for the first time at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). This came ninety-nine years after Albert Einstein released his revolutionary paper that predicted these ripples in space and time.  Two years on, researchers from LIGO have received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for this observation, the most prestigious prize in the physics community! So, what’s all the fuss about? Back in the seventeenth century, Isaac Newton formulated his theories of what is now called Newtonian Mechanics. This involved some object moving through some space, being acted upon by some force. Makes sense right? That’s how the world that we can see works! If I push something, it moves…but it turns out to be more ...
Astronomy: More than just pretty desktop backgrounds
Science & Technology

Astronomy: More than just pretty desktop backgrounds

The vast majority of us have looked up at the night sky before and admired the twinkling stars above or maybe noticed that the moon is looking particularly bright today. You may have taken a picture with a smart phone, a digital camera or been fortunate enough to have access to a telescope to have a closer look at what lies beyond our planet. But there is so much more to astronomy than pretty desktop backgrounds and astrological maps. I was kindly invited to the latest evening lecture hosted by the Department of Physics here at Royal Holloway where Professor Stewart Boogert demonstrated how much we can learn from the celestial bodies around us. To coincide with British Science Week and the return of BBC Stargazing Live, the talk explained how even a simple image of an object can tell yo...