Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




TIME AND SPACE
Spacetime: A Smoother Brew Than We Knew
by Staff Writers
Long Beach CA (SPX) Jan 11, 2013


Gamma-ray burst.

Spacetime may be less like foamy quantum beer and more like smooth Einsteinian whiskey, according to research led by physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University being presented this week at the 221st American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest.

Nemiroff and his team reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009.

The photons originated about 7 billion light-years away from Earth from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope a mere millisecond apart.

"Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff says. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope may be validating Albert Einstein's view of smooth spacetime into the realm of quantum mechanics. In other words, spacetime may not be not as foamy as some scientists think.

In his General Theory of Relativity, Einstein described space and time as smooth, deforming only under the weight of matter and energy. But according to some theories of quantum gravity, which deal with matter and energy at the smallest scale, spacetime is made up of a froth of particles and possibly even black holes that pop in and out of existence over infinitesimally small moments at the so-called Planck-length scale, which is less than a trillionth of a trillionth the diameter of a hydrogen atom.

The "bubbles" in this foam -- should they exist -- are so small as to be almost undetectable. However, scientists have theorized that photons from gamma-ray bursts should be able to track down the bubbles' signature.

Here's why. The wavelengths of gamma-ray burst photons are some of the shortest distances known to science -- so short they should interact with the even smaller bubbles of quantum foam. And if they interact, the photons should be dispersed -- scattered -- on their trek through frothy spacetime.

In particular, they should disperse in different ways if their wavelengths differ, as in the case of Nemiroff's three photons. Imagine a Ping Pong ball, a bowling ball, and a softball taking alternate paths down a gravely hillside.

Furthermore, few things can delay gamma-ray photons like these, so they might travel for unimaginably long distances unimpeded. You wouldn't notice the scattering over short distances, but across 7 billion light-years, the quantum foam might knock the light around enough to notice. And three photons from the same gamma-ray burst might not have crashed through the Fermi telescope in a dead heat.

Bolstered by the evidence garnered from the three photons, Nemiroff's analysis supports earlier indications but takes them clearly below the Planck length: "If foaminess exists at all, we think it must be at a scale far smaller than the Planck length, indicating that other physics might be involved," he says.

"There is a possibility of a statistical fluke, or that spacetime foam interacts with light differently than we imagined," Nemiroff said.

"If future gamma-ray bursts confirm this, we will have learned something very fundamental about our universe," says Bradley E. Schaefer, professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University.

For now, at least, this looks like another win for Einstein. Perhaps it calls for a toast.

.


Related Links
Michigan Technological University
Understanding Time and Space






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TIME AND SPACE
BaBar Experiment Confirms Time Asymmetry
Menlo Park CA (SPX) Nov 20, 2012
Time marches relentlessly forward for you and me; watch a movie in reverse, and you'll quickly see something is amiss. But from the point of view of a single, isolated particle, the passage of time looks the same in either direction. For instance, a movie of two particles scattering off of each other would look just as sensible in reverse - a concept known as time reversal symmetry. ... read more


TIME AND SPACE
Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

TIME AND SPACE
Mars500 project - salt balance of the Mars 'astronauts'

Simulated mission to Mars reveals critical data about sleep needs for astronauts

NASA's Big Mars Rover Makes First Use Of Its Brush

Lockheed Martin Delivered Core Structure For First GOES-R Satellite

TIME AND SPACE
AXE to Send 22 Guys to Space with New Apollo Campaign

IBM tops as tech titans scramble for US patents

Chinese tech firms pump up volume at CES

High fashion, high tech intersect at CES confab

TIME AND SPACE
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

TIME AND SPACE
Crew Wraps Up Robonaut Testing

Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

TIME AND SPACE
Arianespace's industry leadership will continue with 12 launcher family missions planned in 2013

Arianespace addresses The Insurance Institute of London

Cargo loading underway with the next ATV resupply spacecraft to be launched by Ariane 5

SpaceX sets March 1 for launch to ISS

TIME AND SPACE
Earth-size planets common in galaxy

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B

NASA, ESA Telescopes Find Evidence for Asteroid Belt Around Vega

Kepler Gets a Little Help From Its Friends

TIME AND SPACE
How the kilogram has put on weight

Japan to survey Pacific seabed for rare earth

3D printing creates 'virtual' fossil

LEON: the space chip that Europe built




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement