• guest post: a new physics?

    with all the recent talk about faster-than-light particles, we thought it timely to bring you selected excerpts from physicist Ben Still’s Neutrino Blog looking at how such speeds might be possible, what that means for physics and how we might have seen this all once before. illustration by Sister Arrow

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    The neutrinos released in supernova deaths of stars, such as SN1987a, a far less energetic than the neutrino beam used by the OPERA experiment. In fact, the energy of neutrinos fired from CERN to the OPERA detector in Gran Sasso, Italy, are of the order 1000 times as energetic as those seen from SN1987a.

    Einstein’s theory of relativity assumes that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, this property is known as Lorentz invariance. It is hard coded into the mathematics and it is the ratio of the squares of the mass and energy that determines how close to the speed of light a particle can travel. The smaller the ratio m2/E2 the closer to the speed of light a particle gets.

    The extremely small mass of the neutrino, means that it requires very little energy to travel at amazingly fast speeds. At an energy of 10 of MeV, neutrinos are traveling at 99.999999999998% the speed of light. The difference in speed when we raise the energy of the neutrino to 10GeV is a tiny 0.00000000001998%. If 10MeV (roughly that from SN1987a) and 10GeV (roughly the energy of OPERA) neutrinos were in a race all the way from the large Magellanic cloud, where SN1987a died spectacularly, then the 10GeV neutrinos would arrive just one tenth (0.1) of a second before the 10MeV energy neutrinos. Although the OPERA energy neutrinos would be faster, note that because of Lorentz invariance they would not travel faster than light.

    New Physics

    The only way in which this can explain faster than light neutrinos would be if a new physics, beyond our current understanding, ‘switches on’ at high previously unexplored energies. ‘Switches on’ is a phrase that theorists like. New physics may exist at scales of energy over the horizon of our previous experiences as it is in these lands that theories lie. The GeV energies used by the OPERA is indeed a new frontier in our understanding of the neutrino.

    The forerunner of theories which allow the neutrino to travel faster than light is that of quantum gravity. Here the neutrinos interact differently than light does with the backdrop of the Universe; the foamy space-time upon which Nature in played out. This difference in interaction, effectively sees particles of light – photons – and neutrinos traveling through different subsets of extra dimensions.

    I would not claim any great knowledge in quantum gravity, but I understand that as yet there is no evidence for extra dimensions or the quantum space-time foam talked of. If the OPERA results do withstand the rigorous tests and scrutiny they will most certainly be under then it may be the first hint of quantum gravity. Only time, repeat results, and a lot of hard work will tell.

    Deja vu?

    The Kamiokande-II experiment was used to detect neutrinos in a massive tank of 3000 tonnes of ultra pure water – usually around six of the trillions upon trillions of neutrinos that passed through it every day. Imagine their surprise then, when asked by optical astronomers to check their data on 23rd February 1987, in seeing a spike of 12 neutrinos in just 12.4 seconds! With so many neutrinos seen in such a short space of time there must have been a huge intensity of neutrinos passing through the Earth – far greater than that from the Sun and atmosphere combined.

    Intensity of neutrinos equates to intensity of energy, as it is the neutrinos that take energy away from the supernova. The intensity of neutrinos and energy was calculated and found to agree well with theoretical models. In these models the energy taken away from supernova accounts for 99% of the total energy emitted. The energy released in forming a neutron star comes primarily from essentially the difference in mass between the normal core and the new neutron star. This is a value that is well constrained. So I argue that if the intensity of neutrinos see just hours before SN1987a accounts for 99% of the theoretically modeled energy released, then there could not have been neutrinos missed 4.14 ±1 years previous.

    Of the three neutrino observatories that saw antineutrinos from SN1987a, only the IMB and Baksan detectors were active in 1983, both of which started operation in 1982. Kamiokande in Japan was the largest of the three but did not begin operation until the second quarter of 1983. As far as I am aware there was no neutrino spike such as that seen in 1987 – after this detection of a supernova in neutrinos was made all historical data was scrutinised and nothing appears in publication.

    The neutrinos seen by these detectors were electron antineutrinos. The reason for this is that the likelihood for electron antineutrinos to interact with the normal stuff around us is far far higher because they have the possibility to interact by inverse beta decay p + anti-νe → n + e+. One could then make the argument that perhaps the other types of neutrino traveled faster than light and then we missed them four years previous because we did not see them.

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    Ben Still is a research associate at Queen Mary, University of London and works on the Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) neutrino oscillation experiment based in Japan. You can find out more about his research at benstill.com

    Sister Arrow is an artist and illustrator working with drawing, painting and animation. Her inspirations include nature, metaphysics, sci-fi, primitive life, caves and Japan. A selection of her recent work is currently on show at Beach London.

    deep impact

    Meteor Crater by Joe King

    in the first in a series of articles, we explore some of the places we’ll be visiting on our upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Expedition this August. first up is Meteor Crater, a massive hole in the ground in Arizona that helped scientists establish techniques for identifying meteor strikes…

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    ✺ solar eclipse expedition


    14-22 August 2017

    join a small group of creative explorers as we travel across the spectacular deserts, forests and mountains of Western America to witness one of nature’s most incredible sights: a total solar eclipse

    click here to register

    after meeting in Los Angeles, we’ll head out into the high desert to explore the natural beauty of Joshua Tree and camp overnight under the stars. we’ll then venture into Arizona to visit the Biosphere 2 experiment and spend a night at Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri’s ecological city in the desert. after stopping at the legendary Lowell Observatory for a briefing about the eclipse we’ll visit Meteor Crater, a massive impact site with an awesome gift shop. next up is the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, after which we’ll spend the night amid the iconic sandstone buttes of Monument Valley

    from then on in it’s all about the total solar eclipse – a surreal sight that everyone should witness at least once. as the Moon slowly covers the sun during this rare alignment, the morning of 21st August will slowly dim until the face of our nearest star is completely obscured. the sun’s faint corona and the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury will become visible in the daytime, and birds might start singing again thinking it’s dawn

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    seeing science


    launched in September last year, Seeing Science is a year-long project at the University of Maryland that examines and documents the ways in which science is represented through the visual medium of photography

    with online platforms, essays, events and exhibitions, the project looks at the ways in which science is represented as an industry and as an academic subject; the people involved and its myriad interactions with our everyday life. from Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering studies of animal locomotion to NASA’s rich photography archive through to augmented reality goggles for surgeons, Seeing Science seeks to examine the various forms scientific images take, what they reveal and how they transform the disciplines they serve. Bobby Jewell spoke with the project’s curator and producer, Marvin Hieferman, to find out more

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    a planet of oceans


    from the depths of the Marianas Trench to the remote beaches of the Chagos Archipelago, we’ve rounded up five incredible places from around the planet in honour of World Oceans Day

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    L’Indifférence Des Etoiles

    L'Indifférence Des Etoiles

    88 pages / 26 × 19 cm / hardback
    41 photographs / full colour offset
    first edition of 500

    L’Indifférence Des Etoiles (The Indifference of the Stars) is French photographer Julien Mauve’s first book. filled with juxtaposed images of deep space and our world, it is about the quest for meaning and the difficulty to live with the knowledge that we exist. somehow, the stars become a shelter for the mind and help us bear the briefness of human life

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    the cosmic desert


    stretching more than 7000 square kilometres across the barren deserts of Western Tunisia, Chott el Djerid is a vast salt lake that extends to the stars. an ‘endorheic’ basin, it floods in winter with rainwater and run-off from the distant Atlas Mountains, with dissolved minerals forming delicate pinks, soft greens, baby blues and other subtly beautiful colours. as spring turns to summer, crystalline structures emerge as the fierce Saharan heat turns the shallow waterways into glittering desert once more…

    read more about Chott el Djerid’s cosmic connections in our latest Where On Earth column for AnOther



    to mark the Hong Kong launch of our retrospective book, super/collider presented a two week pop-up shop at Book B, located inside the new mixed use space common room & co. in Hong Kong

    following on from this, our books have been now been added to the shop’s permanent selection, and we have more in the pipeline. next time you’re in Sham Shui Po, stop by to browse a selection of publications at the intersection of art and science…

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    Time Traveller by Seana Gavin


    34x34cm glicée print
    limited edition of 50

    our collaborative collage series with artist Seana Gavin is inspired by our mutual love of vintage science books, world encyclopaedias and other educational treasures. combing the super/collider library for inspiration, Gavin’s meticulous hand-made collages reposition and reinvent Earth and space-based objects as new forms in surreal, otherworldly landscapes – strange realms devoid of a fixed time and place

    full series here

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    art and sci-fi in the Atacama


    in one of the highest, driest and most remote landscapes on the planet, astronomers have constructed a series of megalithic devices to peer deep into space. these complex, futuristic artefacts and the strange landscape that surrounds them are what drew French artist Caroline Corbasson to the Atacama, where she’s currently shooting a new short film. you can read more about the project in our latest article for Amuse and check out this series of exclusive location scouting photos…

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    104-page retrospective book (2006-2016)
    first edition of 1000
    170mm x 240mm
    printed with vegetable-based inks on FSC-certified paper made from 100% post-consumer waste

    in 2006 we published our first fanzine and began a journey into science and culture. from the depths of interstellar space to the limitless subatomic horizons of particle physics to the most beautiful places on our planet, we’ve been privileged to spend the past decade exploring the wonders and aesthetics of science from a creative standpoint

    full of short stories and facts, ten is more than just a retrospective of our work. it’s a visual record of where science has taken us all in the last decade – told through 100 beautiful images from the worlds of astronomy, chemistry, mineralogy, physics, ecology, biology… and beyond

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    Platular ring by Noemi Klein

    Platular ring by Noemi Klein

    inspired by the intersection of earthly geology and crystalline geometry, Noemi Klein crafts intricate pieces in a range of fine metals. in her Epoch 5 collection, geological structures in the form of precious mineral clusters crystallise the natural environment and provide a sharp physical alternative to the ethereal and sensory world of the eye

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    the in sound from way out

    GOES satellite

    researchers at Queen Mary University in London are inviting filmmakers and creatives to experiment with sounds from space, as part of a new competition launched today. to find out more about these cosmic noises, we caught up with project lead Dr Martin Archer…

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    islands of ice


    in our latest column for AnOther we overfly the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which is about to unleash one of the largest icebergs the Earth has ever seen



    unearthing and meticulously photographing artwork and images from 19th and early 20th century astronomy books, Print Science are working to showcase how people used to record the heavens. beyond lunar charts, hand sketches of the solar corona and an early photograph of the Pleiades, the collection includes early impressions of Mars and a beautiful drawing of a comet over London

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    ring world


    open up Google Maps and scroll over to Canada – then zoom in and take a look to the right of the ‘Québec’ label. notice something weird? a massive, circular lake? that’s an impact crater from a 5km wide comet or asteroid that hit the area over 200 million years ago, making it the oldest known and largest visible impact crater on Earth

    in our new column for AnOther, we look at Manicouagan Crater and other (potentially related) impact sites across the planet

    Liliane Lijn in conversation with Johanna Kieniewicz

    Ruins of Kasch, 2008, Liliane Lijn

    6 December 2016

    in this talk, artist Liliane Lijn will share her experiences exploring light since the 1960s. beyond discussing her artistic practice, Liliane will talk about her influences and historical understandings of light from the past millennia, drawing on her readings in Tibetan Buddhism as well as her interest in physics and astronomy

    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    tickets are free for Second Home members and £3 for non-members – please RSVP here

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    speaking into space


    20 October 2016

    humanity regularly sends information from Earth out into the universe that may be picked up by potential extraterrestrial intelligence – but should we be sending such messages? and if so, how do we represent ourselves? in searching the universe, what do we find out about ourselves?

    join us as we explore these ideas with Dr Jill Stuart – an academic based at the London School of Economics who specialises in the politics, ethics and law of outer space exploration and exploitation. beyond serving as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Space Policy, Dr. Stuart is a trustee of METI International, an organisation that focuses on sending messages from Earth to potential extraterrestrial life

    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    tickets are free for Second Home Members and £3 for non-members – please RSVP here

    is our universe a hologram?

    © Mr Div

    © Mr Div

    Tuesday 20 September 2016

    join Dr. Andrew O’Bannon on a journey to the cutting edge of theoretical physics. holography is the bold idea that all the information in our 3D universe may be contained in a mysterious 2D image, like a hologram. promising not only to unite Einstein’s relativity with quantum physics, it also has the potential to provide us with cleaner energy, faster computers, and novel electronics

    Second Home
    68 Hanbury Street / London / E1 5JL
    £5 | book here

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    rooftop astronomy at Ace Hotel

    with the skies getting darker earlier, our ever-popular astronomy nights are back high atop the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch. come take a close up look at the planets, the lunar surface and other wonders through the hotel’s in-house 203mm Dobsonian telescope, customised by super/collider

    the season kicked off on August 9th with a session featuring the Moon, Mars and Saturn overhead. the evening featured astronomer Jeni Millard, art installations from Isobel Church and Dario Villanueva and a talk by Louise Alexander, a planetary scientist from the University of Birkbeck

    sign up for updates on future events

    making plastic precious

    Studio Swine

    inspired by nautical craftsmanship and folk art, the designers at Studio Swine went in search of plastic in the ocean for their Gyrecraft project – and found a lot to choose from. sailing 1000 nautical miles from the Azores to the Canary Islands, they passed through through the North Atlantic Gyre: one of five points on the planet where swirling megacurrents concentrate vast quantities of floating debris, including plastic

    “it’s one of the biggest problems facing our civilisation,” says Studio Swine’s Alex Groves, “plastic is in every part of the ocean and the effect it’s having on plankton is only just beginning to be investigated. plankton are the base of the entire planet’s food chain, and they are responsible for producing one third of the oxygen we breath. if we lose plankton we are headed for another mass extinction. in the swirling gyre, most of the plastics have broken down into tiny fragments which are spread over massive stretches of the ocean. due to their size, they are incredibly difficult to recover in any large quantity – making this once disposable material very precious”

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