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back to article UK supercomputer probes secrets of universe

A team of theoretical particle physicists at Edinburgh University has applied some hefty computing power to one of the great unanswered questions of particle physics - why does the universe contain more matter than antimatter when, on paper at least, there should be equal amounts of both and we shouldn't exist at all. The …

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Stop

Nice, but not for much longer.

Good research. Shame it's yet another entry on the list of scientific projects soon to be scrapped / starved by the STFC, along with the main LHC experiment (due to start this year) which could have experimentally confirmed the results.

http://www.stfc.ac.uk/STFCConsultation/sources/STFC_PR2008.pdf

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I'm with paris on this one

I'm pretty sure that article was in english, perhaps amanfrommars could explain it to me in laymans terms.

If they find the answer will we puff out of existence!!!

maybe its 42

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Boffin

Common misconception...

...but GRAVITY IS NOT A FORCE.

I know everyone thinks it is but it's actually a field.

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Coat

Lets hope it finds a contant that has the value 42

nuff said

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Thumb Up

What, no boffins?

A whole science-based article without the B-word, well done el Reg.

What has happened to Lucy Sheriff? Initial status reports indicate she hasn't posted a story on here since last November ...

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Black Helicopters

OK So,

Granted im way more smart like, than Stephen Hawkin.

and all those bofs,

But aint all that anti matter inside black holes,

where we cant measure it (coz its outside out space time existance etc etc),

and hence is exactly the reason that stuff gets sucked in.

so (and im semi quoting from a tv show the other day),

all the matter that is sucked in and compressed down

(coz anti matter really really likes matter, and wants to be with it).

and eventually when all the matter is sucked out of the universe till its all smaller than a pea etc, and then all the matter only resides in black holes scattered like bubbles in the universe. then they explode in some new space-ey reality etc out the back door, in a big bank fashion, spreading muck 'n stuff all arround, and then the bits of black hole that did not disperse well, all start sucking again.

simple!

and ive got a test model in my shed at home prooving all this if you want to see it, just gimme an email and we can have a big bang party! and you can all see for yourselves.

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Unhappy

STFC consultation

Yes, the priority STFC gave computational particle physics and astronomy

leaves it well below the funding cut-off.

As with the rest of STFC's inverted thinking they labelled such research "HPC" as though the primary goal is funding the computers (or other labs & facilities), and not the science that results from scientists *using* the computers/facilities.

This boneheaded thinking is why they concentrated their cuts in university research which completely misses the point that all the science is done by university researchers. Without them I'm sure they'll have a bunch of very clean and unused accelerators/telescopes/thingy-me-bobs.

Whoops, no actually - I forgot. Just as the last PM fantasised about being

Winston S Churchill sending tanks to the desert, the current science minister

like to play John F Kennedy.

They will spend huge amounts of money putting Dan-Dare on a one

way ticket to Mars with NO scientific benefit. It will inspire as many extra kids

to become engineers as Lewis Hamilton does. None. If they're

not interested in engineering anyway, all they wanna be is the

driver.

Sigh... the life expectancy of both her majesties misgovernment and the current nonleadership of STFC is limited.

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I've got the answer, but you're really not going to like it......

@AC

No, it's not nice research, it's almost pointless and means very, very little for anybody but a very few people, it needs a better approach rather than chucking loads of money at it, you'd have been very lucky for LHC to confirm the results, I think the day has passed where research doesn't count the cost of research with only theoretical benefits.

@PaddyR

For matter to be created, the opposite must have also been created which means you should always have an equal quantity of both, but we don't have, so for scientists to prove we don't need God to exist they need to find out why.

@Ross

The article indicates "the force of gravity", it doesn't say gravity is a force, neither is it a field, gravitational force (G * m1 * m2) / (d2) operates over a field, but more accurately it's a curve in the space-time continuum which acts on a body identically to acceleration.

Nuff said(2)

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Go

Boffin

As someone who works in Boffinary I would (Unlike Alistair) like to see more use of the word "Boffin"

The recent article about "Boffin Bloodbath" UK funding cuts had me laughing so hard with its title that I ended up being surrounded by fellow Boffins looking at my screen wondering what the hell I was looking at.

I have to post Anonymously as I know my fellow workers will be looking at this page and will know straight away who I am and tell me I should be getting back to work.

As Anonymous Coward said there will be lots of funding cuts to UK science, but don't worry mate, its too late to stop the switch-on of the LHC so us Boffins can BLOW UP THE WOOORLD! (Sinister cackle)

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Silver badge

@Kirstian

You are amanfromMars, and I claim my £10 :)

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Alert

Bottled it, did you?

"CP violation runs contrary to the principle of "CP symmetry", which states that the sum of two symmetries - charge conjugation (C), which transforms a particle into its antiparticle, and parity (P) - "

No, go on, don't stop there - what does parity do? You were bold enough when it came to explaining C, now tell us what P is!

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Coat

Err...

Is this the same as pasta & antipasta?

Mines the "I'm with stoopid" one with the arrow pointing upward.

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@Kirstian

I think I'll have to refuse your tantalizing invite, as I plan to do a similar demonstration myself.

However, I'd like to point out that we can measure what is inside of a black hole, because of its mass. So whatever went in definitely has not left the space time existence etc.

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Alien

And the question is

Q: How many axis of symmetry does a kaos particle have?

A: 42

Damn! I gave it away didn't I? The mice will be soooo furious

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Silver badge
Alien

Per Ardua ad MetaAstra ....... Biggles Dons Dan Dare 42 Win Win

"The nodes run a custom embedded operating system developed by the team, which spends most of its time running optimised assembler code at around 40 per cent of peak performance."

The results of the beast's three years of "Lattice QCD" calculations are, according to Boyle, "quite beautiful"."

Wow, Crank that Code up a notch or three and Goodness knows what IT will tell you.

"They will spend huge amounts of money putting Dan-Dare on a one way ticket to Mars with NO scientific benefit." .... By Anonymous Coward

Posted Friday 7th March 2008 13:55 GMT

Actually there would be QuITe Unprecedented scientific benefit and IT would be Perfect for any Presidential Leadership .....Immaculate Bawdy Mansion ......and that would be an Intentionally Ambiguous DirectAXXXXIOn Freudian Slip amongst the Bits and Bytes/Bards and Bauds.

AC, Where will Dan Dare and the Current Science Minister, playing John F Kennedy, take us next. You can surely Imaginanation of Virgin Amazon Forests with Random Access Hospitality Suites/Secured Accomodation on Venus.......... made Virtually Real with Communicating InfraStructures in Common Interest Control Red Zones.

Interests in AIdDevelopment in Benefit to the H00dD and its Monitoring Salacious Hosts? .....or Wise Benefactors/Perception Managers.

"..but don't worry mate, its too late to stop the switch-on of the LHC so us Boffins can BLOW UP THE WOOORLD! (Sinister cackle)" ..... I'm having a Far Beta Time imagining the WOOORLD sucking up to Boffins. Spookily enough, in Quantum Communications they can both be the same in yet another dimension as well as being completely different in their own two initial dimensional contexts ..... Virtual Realities .... which would seems to suggest that Reality is the Con and Virtual Reality the Real McCoy ...... with ITs Own Full Monty Drivers .....in Pretty Good Privacy PerlyGatesPython XXXXPerTease.

Now that is worth more than excuse of Funding whenever Northern Rock and the Treasury are bled/fed so easily of Bank of England Promisory Notes.

The Right Program always gets Money thrown at IT as it is Good Enough never to need to have to Ask for IT to be Given. And That Way, IT ensures Nothing but the Very Best of the Very Best .. and as close to Always as makes Perfect Interesting. :-)

Interesting Days ahead ......

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Go

@amanfromMars

Your completely barking mad, you should work for us and become a fellow Boffin.

Otherwise you need Less/Change/More medication.

Sorry still need to remain anonymous here.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike

<<No, it's not nice research, it's almost pointless and means very, very little for anybody but a very few people ... I think the day has passed where research doesn't count the cost of research with only theoretical benefits>>>

Hmm, you mean "pointless" in the same way as Faraday's research into electricity 200 years ago, pointless like Einstein's research into relativity and quantum mechanics 100 years ago, or indeed pointless along the lines of the 'research' of Michelangelo and da Vinci 500 years ago?

After all, those things had only theoretical benefits, and could not possibly have meant anything to anybody but a very few people. Next some crazies will be suggesting that we educate our school children in such matters.

Well, thank god that day has passed, as you say!

PS: Sorry, have to stay anon on this one.

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Boffin

We'll be OK until ...

... these misguided boffins measure the mass of the Higgs Boson ...

Lexx freak

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@AC

>Hmm, you mean "pointless" in the same way as Faraday's research into electricity 200 years ago, pointless like Einstein's research into relativity and quantum mechanics 100 years ago, or indeed pointless along the lines of the 'research' of Michelangelo and da Vinci 500 years ago?

No, and I don't mean pointless as in research based on incorrect assumptions (phlogiston is a well documented example).

If you can't see the difference between Faraday's (frankly cheap as chips, even for the times) research into electricity (i.e. something that we, as individuals can directly use to affect the physical world) and spending a huge, and I mean huge amounts of money to prove or disprove a theory which the theoretical physicists openly admit cant think of any practical application for then stop and think for a moment.

By all means research anything whatsoever, even if it's a waste of time, but think of those who cant get funding because the money is going elsewhere.

>Next some crazies will be suggesting that we educate our school children in such matters.

Bang... you've hit the nail on the head there, let's focus our energies in school on things that are useful and provide a grounding for further/higher education, but lets fund kaon and higgs boson research with someones money who cares.

>PS: Sorry, have to stay anon on this one.

No worries, if you don't have the courage of your conviction, I'm sure somebody will still take your opinions seriously.

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stupid question

How do we know there is an excess of matter over anti-matter??

If the matter and anti-matter flew off in different directions during the expansion (opposite charges, remember) there would probably be no way to determine at a great distance what type of matter an object is.

Am I missing something here? In close proximity, a photon will decay into an electron and positron, then recombine into a photon. With enough energy would not the particles and anti-particles go in potentially different directions? Feynman, on the other hand, demonstrated that a positron would be indistinguishable from an electron moving back in time.

Einstein says that time stops for an object moving at the speed of light. Photons, by definition travel at the speed of light, so are they everywhere at once???

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what about "segregating" matter/antimatter?

I'm no boffin, nor do I play one on telly, but...

I was watching "The Universe" on The History Channel the other day on this very topic. They suggested that some distant galaxies might be entirely (or very nearly so) antimatter. If that were true, the discrepancy wouldn't be nearly as big as currently thought.

Given the relative distance between galaxies to minimize all that pesky "annihilation" stuff, if 'x' galaxies were matter and 'x-2' galaxies were ANTImatter, then the difference would be relatively negligible on the grand scale.

OR... HTTG - the Prophet Zarquon and the Great Green Arleseizure

(hey editors, how about a "hopelessly confused" icon that does NOT include a picture of a Hilton?

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Units?

El Reg really needs to come up with some standard units for computing power - a (digital) wrist watch might be useful. Or the Apollo missions, because I hear that comparison made a lot.

Plus digital watches are pretty neat.

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IT Angle

More about the machine at

More about the machine at:

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-lat/0011004v1

to add the IT to it, or it to IT, whatever.

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Linux

@Mike

Mike,

Not knowing in advance what the pay back will be is inherent in learning

things you don't already know.

The fundamental laws of the universe are simply worth knowing

You seem to have a blind spot for spin off.

Given UK particle physicists invented the dear old wibbly wobbly web you

are using to make your comments your assessment of the benefits of

particle physics research may be somewhat hasty.

This particular project had an impact on the development of BlueGene/L.

http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/rd/492/boyle.html

Anyway, you mentioned that there are better ways to approach QCD than

numerical simulation. Congratulations - you should keep very quiet about them and immediately write to the Clay foundation who have a $1,000,000 millenium prize up for a mathematical solution!

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Silver badge
Alien

There never seemed to be too much mystery about the asymmetry to me.

After the big bang there would have been a whole stew of particles and anti-particles in close proximity. Naturally if an electron and positron (for instance) collide, they totally annihilate each other and become energy. But what about dissimilar particles and anti-particles, say a muon and a positron? Then you'd have a great deal of energy AND a particle as a result.

Enough random asymmetrical collisions take place, and you have a chance to end up with a mostly positive (or negative) universe with a lot of energy. Just like we observe now.

So it all really boils down to;

"The Universe just happened to happen like it happened, otherwise we wouldn't happen to be here to argue about how it happened." -Dhamma Absu

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Silver badge
Alien

Fit for General All Purposeful Uses

"Your completely barking mad, you should work for us and become a fellow Boffin.

Otherwise you need Less/Change/More medication." ..... By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 7th March 2008 16:06 GMT

What medication? :-)

And are there Thirty Pieces of Silver or AI Gold Mine Diamond Geyser to be Paid and/or Created? :-)

Is there a dotted line somewhere to sign on, AC?

Somewhere for XXXX to Work ITs Magic.

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Bleedin' obvious innit!

Less antimatter than matter.. Just ask James T. Kirk or Scotty.. They been using it up since the 60's to blast around the Universe....

phffffsss. Supercomputer indeed!

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Coat

Quantum Games?

When and if we do solve this mystery what are we going to do with it???

Can I play Crysis on this machine?

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Happy

It's all in the ether, you shouldn't sniff that stuff.

@Mike

There is no such thing as pointless research when it is based on trying to understand the fundamental laws of the universe. Notice the special word there - fundamental. Are you serious suggesting that at any point in the future, pushing our understanding of nature further into the darkness of ignorance will not produce enormous direct benefits, not to mention the indirect benefits already mentioned (www & Blue Gene etc)? The historical evidence suggests you are wrong. There is no guarantee that track record will continue, but I'd suggest the time to change plan is after it has failed, not whilst it still has a 100% success rate.

To take your second slightly random point - lack of symmetry proves only lack of symmetry. It is not up to Scientists, particle physicists or otherwise to prove the (non) existence of 'god' - which is why they tend to assume non existence (along with santa, fairies, and guardian angels) on a daily basis, regardless of religious convictions, and look for real reasons. As you say their job is to find out 'why', and this experiment helps to answer some of that question - or at least helps frame the question itself.

@Captain DaFt, @Mark Pipes and others

As I understand it the reason that CP violation is important, rather than just regarded as an inconvenient observation relates to a combination of statistics and inflation - we have a very 'smooth' universe with very regular averages for all sorts of distributions, for things that are far enough apart that information can never have reached from one part to another within the life of the universe, so to close this gap 'inflation' is posited to have grown the universe quite a lot in it's very early age (first few seconds I think), thus averaging stuff out quite finely. As a result of this if there were equal amounts of matter and anti matter in the early universe (or the potential for each), it's distribution would also be averaged so that we should see equal amounts of each. Since we don't, there has always been violation of that particular symmetry. Of course it could be we were in a particularly lumpy, matter biaised part of the very early universe - but that would make our section of the universe (the bit we can see) very very special, and if your theory relies on our experience being very very special it is less likely to be correct.

Happily not being any sort of scientist, I can avoid the shame of ACing. Which means the real scientists can flame me for being retarded. But they can't wear a name badge whilst doing it. Oh the irony.

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Coat

Yeah but no but yeah..

How does this all help me win at Bingo?

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Boffin

@ Bottled it, did you?

Charge conjugation changes a particle into exactly the same particle with the opposite charge (eg: +1 -> -1). Parity conjugation, on the other hand, changes exactly that: the handedness, or "spin" of a particle. It is like reflecting it in a mirror. When one conjugates both the charge and the parity of a particle, this converts said particle into its antiparticle nemesis. Hence if there is some asymmetry in CP, there is some definable difference between particles and antiparticles.

Sheesh, when will some basic degree-level particle physics ever be set out straight? Some would say it is confusing enough as it is...

Mine's the coat with the paper note saying "kick me" being hastily ripped off.

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Now now...

@AC

>You seem to have a blind spot for spin off.

No, it's not a blind spot, I strongly believe that people who think that unrelated 'spin off' justifies a project are themselves blind. A failed project is a failed project regardless of the fact that they discovered a new way of making sausages or worse (and all to common), having a failed project and then pretending something that you happend to use was a "spin off" (e.g. non stick frying pans/PTFE and the space project).

>Anyway, you mentioned that there are better ways to approach QCD than numerical simulation. Congratulations - you should keep very quiet about them and immediately write to the Clay foundation who have a $1,000,000 millenium prize up for a mathematical solution!

I'm afraid my Physics and Maths stopped at 'A' level, but thank you for the suggestion, of course I actually said "it needs a better approach rather than chucking loads of money at it", there was also a wonderful article in the New Scientist (a year ago?) about a graphical representation of fundamental particles which I believe is potentially in line for the Clay prize (and doesn't require another 18 theoretical dimentions, which makes a lot of people very happy and a lot of number crunchers very unhappy).

Notwithstanding, there's a lot of zero degree/QCD experimentation which is cheap and still giving us loads of new knowlege.

And... No, www wasn't "invented" by UK particle physicists, they (CERN? as I recall only some of the team were british) they coined the phrase www, wrote and re-wrote some software then just joined together earlier research (some of which goes back to the 40's), the internet was in existance, so was hypertext, what they called www and what exists today are different beasts.

Notwithstanding, even if a few scientists with time on their hands did invent something useful which wasn't their day job, it doesn't mean it wouldn't happen anyway and let's not forget all the bad side of the coin, cold fusion anyone?

@John Stirling

You do realise that misquoting someone to make a point is not only rude but also reveals a flaw in your character, I indicated that the research was "almost pontless", again I will emphasise the importantce of funding reseach that will make a difference to todays society before reseach that *might* have something useful in it, hey! we may find a spin off source of endless clean, cheap energy, but it's a bit of a long shot and it might be worth trying to find that instead anyway.

>lack of symmetry proves only lack of symmetry.

Errr... no the assumption of itself doesn't prove itself

>not whilst it still has a 100% success rate.

This 100% sucess rate... would that be the failure of LEP to conclusivly find Higgs and the need to use LHC? and anyway FNAL may find it before LHC has a chance.

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IT Angle

yummy

Somebody should make a corn-snack called Kaons. They should probably be smelly, spicy and produce orange crumbs.

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