What if you want to capture an image of a process so fast that it looks blurry if the shutter is open for even a billionth of a second? This is the type of challenge scientists on experiments like CMS and ATLAS face as they study particle collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. An extremely fast new detector inside the CMS detector will allow physicists to get a sharper image of particle collisions.
A series of joint NASA and ESA spacewalks four years in the making aims to extend the life of the AMS particle detector. On Nov. 15, astronauts took on a series of tasks ranging in difficulty from zip-tie-cutting to safely launching a piece of equipment into space, all while orbiting the planet at around 5 miles per second. The goal was to fix a component of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an international particle physics experiment, and to extend its study of cosmic rays, dark matter and antimatter for another decade.
Our world is governed by general relativity, which sees gravity as the effects of massive objects warping space-time. The world of particle physics, on the other hand, envisions all forces as mediated by force-carrying particles — and ignores gravity entirely. This year’s Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to three theorists who proposed a way to marry these contradictory descriptions: with a theory called “supergravity.”