Physics
Swiss scientists prove durability of quantum network — Scientists and engineers have proven the worth of quantum cryptography in telecommunication networks by demonstrating its long-term effectiveness in a real-time network…
Pitt discoveries in quantum physics could change face of technology — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have made advances in better understanding correlated quantum matter that could change technology as we know it, according to a study published…
Mechanism of wine swirling explained — Wine drinkers know that swirling a good vintage around in a glass aerates the wine and releases its bouquet. Just how the process - known as 'orbital shaking' - works, however, has…
Calculations with 14 quantum bits — The term entanglement was introduced by the Austrian Nobel laureate Erwin Schroedinger in 1935, and it describes a quantum mechanical phenomenon that while it can clearly be demonstrated…
SU physicists first to observe rare particles produced at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN — Shortly after experiments on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland began yielding scientific data last fall, a group of scientists led by a…
Enhancing the magnetism — 'The nation that controls magnetism will control the universe,' famed fictional detective Dick Tracy predicted back in 1935. Probably an overstatement, but there's little doubt the…
An icy gaze into the Big Bang — Scientists of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Innsbruck, Austria, have reached a milestone in the exploration of quantum gas mixtures. In an international…
Is space like a chessboard? — Physicists at UCLA set out to design a better transistor and ended up discovering a new way to think about the structure of space…
Physicists move closer to efficient single-photon sources — A team of physicists in the United Kingdom has taken a giant step toward realising efficient single-photon sources, which are expected to enable much-coveted completely secure optical…
A small quantum leap — Northwestern University researchers have developed a new switching device that takes quantum communication to a new level. The device is a practical step toward creating a network that…
Where am I? > Home > News > Physics

IU physicist offers foundation for uprooting a hallowed principle of physics

Science Centric | 6 January 2009 12:22 GMT
Printable version A clip for your blog or website E-mail the story to a friend
Bookmark or share the story on your social network Vote for this article Decrease text size Increase text size
DON'T MISS —
Penning trap mass spectrometry technique uncovers new iron isomer
Penning trap mass spectrometry technique uncovers new iron isomer — A ground state atomic nucleus can be something of a black box, masking subtle details about its structure behind the aggregate…
NIST microscope tracks nanoparticles in 3-D
NIST microscope tracks nanoparticles in 3-D — A clever new microscope design allows nanotechnology researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)…
More Physics

Physicists at Indiana University have developed a promising new way to identify a possible abnormality in a fundamental building block of Einstein's theory of relativity known as 'Lorentz invariance.' If confirmed, the abnormality would disprove the basic tenet that the laws of physics remain the same for any two objects travelling at a constant speed or rotated relative to one another.

IU distinguished physics professor Alan Kostelecky and graduate student Jay Tasson take on the long-held notion of the exact symmetry promulgated in Einstein's 1905 theory and show in a paper to be published in the 9 January issue of Physical Review Letters that there may be unexpected violations of Lorentz invariance that can be detected in specialised experiments.

'It is surprising and delightful that comparatively large relativity violations could still be awaiting discovery despite a century of precision testing,' said Kostelecky. 'Discovering them would be like finding a camel in a haystack instead of a needle.'

If the findings help reveal the first evidence of Lorentz violations, it would prove relativity is not exact. Space-time would not look the same in all directions and there would be measurable relativity violations, however minuscule.

The violations can be understood as preferred directions in empty space-time caused by a mesh-like vacuum of background fields. These would be separate from the entirety of known particles and forces, which are explained by a theory called the Standard Model that includes Einstein's theory of relativity.

The background fields are predicted by a generalisation of this theory called the Standard Model Extension, developed by Kostelecky to describe all hypothetical relativity violations.

Hard to detect, each background field offers its own universal standard for determining whether or not an object is moving, or in which direction it is going. If a field interacts with certain particles, then the behaviour of those particles changes and can reveal the relativity violations caused by the field. Gravity distorts the fields, and this produces particle behaviours that can reveal otherwise hidden violations.

The new violations change the gravitational properties of objects depending on their motion and composition. Objects on the Earth are always moving differently in different seasons because the Earth revolves around the Sun, so apples could fall faster in some seasons than others. Also, different objects like apples and oranges may fall differently.

'No dedicated experiment has yet sought a seasonal variation of the rate of an object's fall in the Earth's gravity,' said Kostelecky. 'Since Newton's time over 300 years ago, apples have been assumed to fall at the same rate in the summer and the winter.'

Spotting these minute variances is another matter as the differences in rate of fall would be tiny because gravity is a weak force. The new paper catalogues possible experiments that could detect the effects. Among them are ones studying gravitational properties of matter on the Earth and in space.

The Standard Model Extension predicts that a particle and an antiparticle would interact differently with the background fields, which means matter and antimatter would feel gravity differently. So, an apple and an anti-apple could fall at different rates, too.

'The gravitational properties of antimatter remain largely unexplored,' said Kostelecky. 'If an apple and an anti-apple were dropped simultaneously from the leaning Tower of Pisa, nobody knows whether they would hit the ground at the same or different times.'

Source: Indiana University


Leave a comment
The details you provide on this page [e-mail address] will not be used to send unsolicited e-mail, and will not be supplied to a third party! Please note that we can not promise to give everyone a response. Comments are fully moderated. Once approved they will be posted within 24 hours.
Expand the form to leave a comment

RSS FEEDS, NEWSLETTER
Find the topic you want. Science Centric offers several RSS feeds for the News section.

Or subscribe for our Newsletter, a free e-mail publication. It is published practically every day.

Power shirt generates electricity from physical motionPower shirt generates electricity from physical motion

— Nanotechnology researchers are developing the perfect complement to the power tie: a 'power shirt' able to generate electricity to power small electronic devices…

Stanford researchers hear the sound of quantum drumsStanford researchers hear the sound of quantum drums

— Forty years ago, mathematician Mark Kac asked the theoretical question, 'Can one hear the shape of a drum?' If drums of different shapes always produce their own…

Optical scientists add new, practical dimension to holographyOptical scientists add new, practical dimension to holography

— University of Arizona optical scientists have broken a technological barrier by making three-dimensional holographic displays that can be erased and rewritten in…

Contact lenses with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman visionContact lenses with circuits, lights a possible platform for superhuman vision

— Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create…

Popular tags in Physics: electron · optical · photon · quantum