Physics news

When there really were more days in a year

Nature 217 (March 9th, 1968) had a paper that said that back in the Cretaceous (final era of the dinosaur age) there were some 370 days in a year, derived from ridges on the surface of fossil corals and other sea shells (annual growth patterns). Even further back in time fossil corals indicate there were 400 days in a year, a fact now encompassed in consensus thinking as it is supportive of uniformitarianism and suggests the spin of the earth is actually slowing down - very slowly.

The lunar dynamo theory, white earth, and magnetic graphite

At ... a paper in Science (Jan 27th, 2012) claims the Moon once had a molten, convecting core of liquid metal that generated a strong magnetic field - 3.7 million years ago. Its amazing what a few moon rocks can spawn but it all stems back to the Apollo mission in 1969. The rocks were magnetised - and scientists have been looking for an explanation. The idea is that the Moon's dynamo was powered by Earth's gravitational pull as millions os years ago the Moon was much closer to the Earth than today.

Polar Wandering

Sir Henry James in an article in a journal called The Athenaeum, in 1860, explained Ice Ages by the migration of the axis of rotation. The mechanism for this, he proposed, was the rapid elevation of the world's mountain chains which had disturbed the rotational balance. In fact, during the 19th century the idea of polar wandering was aired on many occasions - even during the early 20th century. It is rarely mentioned nowadays. 

Rotation of the Earth

At there is a report on research in Japan and a paper in Physical Review Letters on problems associated with rotation of the Earth, namely there is not a perfect rate of spin. This led to the view that because different kinds of material make up the core, mantle and the crust this created different rates of spin that causes inherent friction. In other words, the planet wobbles. Why does it wobble? Insome way the mantle responds to the magnetic tug of the core.

Higgs and Holes and sun beams

At cern/ is a piece with lots of comments on how the search for Higgs Boson is proceeding (see also we have the BBC headline, 'Higgs Boson may have been glimpsed' ... but on the other hand, it might not have been. Whatever, particle physicists are apparently very excited by small signals - which might be background noise.

Up the stairs and down the stairs

Landsatt satellites used to track Yellowstone's geothermal heat - see Yellowstone National Park sits on top of what is thought to be a huge ancient and still active volcano, a so called hot spot - downstairs. Heat is thought to rise from an underground chamber that creates some 10,000 hot springs, mud pots, terraces and geysers. 

Blowing Bubbles ... in the sky

At ... we might ask, is the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way quietly dozing away or is it secretly gobbling all that dares to come alongside? In a paper in Physical Review Letters Subir Sarkar of Oxford University discusses bubbles feeding black holes - or is it vice versa? These bubbles are gigantic structures above and below the centre of the galaxy that were discovered fairly recently and studied by Harvard astrophysicists using material from NASAs Fermi satellite.

Some science at the edge

According to a paper in Astrophysics and Space Science by Dragan Hajdukovik contemporary physics has two cornerstones, namely General Relativity and the Standard Model of Particle Physics. General Relativity is our best theory of gravitation. The Standard Model is a collation of Quantum Field theories and claims that everthing in the universe is made from six quarks and six leptons (and their anti-articles) which interact through exchange of gauge bosuns . However, he says these two theories do not fit with certain observations .... go to

Neutrinos ... real or imagined?

David de Hilster, in 'The Neutrinos: Doomed from Inception'  published in the Proceedings of the NPA, College Park, MD 2011, begins by saying some scientists are attracted to the neutrino as it adds desirable characteristics to new theories. However, neutrinos are clearly linked to special relativity. If special relativity is fiction then the neutrino cannot exist. The author, de Hilster, leans on the work of Argentine physicist, Ricardo Carezani.

Little Rascals

Neutrinos are rascally little devils according to Ask a Physicist at in reply to a query on why neutrino oscillations occur. At the actual existence of neutrinos is questioned and the recent experiment in which neutrinos were said to move faster than light involved something going into a mountain  and some shreds of something coming out the other side - but was it neutrinos?