Physics World reveals its top 10 breakthroughs for 2011 The two physics stories that dominated the news in 2011 were questions rather than solid scientific results, namely "Do neutrinos travel faster than light?" and "Has the Higgs boson been found?". However, there have also been some fantastic bona fide research discoveries over the last 12 months, which made it difficult to decide on the Physics World 2011 Breakthrough of the Year. But after much debate among the Physics World editorial team, this year's honour goes to Aephraim Steinberg and colleagues from the University of Toronto in Canada for their experimental work on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. Using an emerging technique called "weak measurement", the team is the first to track the average paths of single photons passing through a Young's double-slit experiment – something that Steinberg says physicists had been "brainwashed" into thinking is impossible. We have also awarded nine runners-up (see below). 1st place: Shifting the morals of quantum measurement
Inflation (cosmology) In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation is a theory of exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10−36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds. Following the inflationary period, the Universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate. Inflation was developed in the early 1980s. In 2002, three of the original architects of the theory were recognized for their major contributions; physicists Alan Guth of M.I.T., Andrei Linde of Stanford and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton shared the prestigious Dirac Prize "for development of the concept of inflation in cosmology". Overview An expanding universe generally has a cosmological horizon, which, by analogy with the more familiar horizon caused by the curvature of the Earth's surface, marks the boundary of the part of the Universe that an observer can see. Space expands . . Few inhomogeneities remain Duration Reheating Notes
Quantum Diaries (Thoughts on work and life from particle physicists from around the world.) Lambda-CDM model The ΛCDM or Lambda-CDM model is a parametrization of the Big Bang cosmological model in which the universe contains a cosmological constant, denoted by Lambda (Greek Λ), and cold dark matter (abbreviated CDM). It is frequently referred to as the standard model of Big Bang cosmology, since it is the simplest model that provides a reasonably good account of the following properties of the cosmos: the existence and structure of the cosmic microwave backgroundthe large-scale structure in the distribution of galaxiesthe abundances of hydrogen (including deuterium), helium, and lithiumthe accelerating expansion of the universe observed in the light from distant galaxies and supernovae The model assumes that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity on cosmological scales. Some alternative models challenge the assumptions of the ΛCDM model. Overview Lambda-CDM, Accelerated Expansion of the Universe. , is currently  estimated to be 68.3%. History Successes
Gravitational lens A light source passes behind a gravitational lens (point mass placed in the center of the image). The aqua circle is the light source as it would be seen if there was no lens, white spots are the multiple images (or Einstein ring) of the source. A gravitational lens is a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant light source and an observer, that is capable of bending the light from the source as the light travels towards the observer. This effect is known as gravitational lensing, and the amount of bending is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. (Classical physics also predicts the bending of light, but only half that predicted by general relativity.) Although Einstein made unpublished calculations on the subject in 1912, Orest Khvolson (1924) and Frantisek Link (1936) are generally credited with being the first to discuss the effect in print. Description 1. 2. 3. History Notes
Big Bang According to the Big Bang model, the universe expanded from an extremely dense and hot state and continues to expand today. The graphic scheme above is an artist's concept illustrating the expansion of a portion of a flat universe. The Big Bang is the scientific theory that is most consistent with observations of the past and present states of the universe, and it is widely accepted within the scientific community. It offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background, large scale structure, and the Hubble diagram. The core ideas of the Big Bang—the expansion, the early hot state, the formation of light elements, and the formation of galaxies—are derived from these and other observations. As the distance between galaxies increases today, in the past galaxies were closer together. Overview Timeline of the Big Bang The earliest phases of the Big Bang are subject to much speculation.
Gravitational microlensing Gravitational microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon due to the gravitational lens effect. It can be used to detect objects ranging from the mass of a planet to the mass of a star, regardless of the light they emit. Typically, astronomers can only detect bright objects that emit lots of light (stars) or large objects that block background light (clouds of gas and dust). These objects make up only a tiny fraction of the mass of a galaxy. Microlensing allows the study of objects that emit little or no light. When a distant star or quasar gets sufficiently aligned with a massive compact foreground object, the bending of light due to its gravitational field, as discussed by Einstein in 1915, leads to two distorted unresolved images resulting in an observable magnification. Since microlensing observations do not rely on radiation received from the lens object, this effect therefore allows astronomers to study massive objects no matter how faint. How it works History . . . . .
Newton's law of universal gravitation Newton's law of universal gravitation states that any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. (Separately it was shown that large spherically symmetrical masses attract and are attracted as if all their mass were concentrated at their centers.) This is a general physical law derived from empirical observations by what Isaac Newton called induction. It is a part of classical mechanics and was formulated in Newton's work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("the Principia"), first published on 5 July 1687. (When Newton's book was presented in 1686 to the Royal Society, Robert Hooke made a claim that Newton had obtained the inverse square law from him – see History section below.) In modern language, the law states the following: History Early History Plagiarism dispute Hooke's work and claims Vector form
10 Strange Things About The Universe Space The universe can be a very strange place. While groundbreaking ideas such as quantum theory, relativity and even the Earth going around the Sun might be commonly accepted now, science still continues to show that the universe contains things you might find it difficult to believe, and even more difficult to get your head around. Theoretically, the lowest temperature that can be achieved is absolute zero, exactly ?273.15°C, where the motion of all particles stops completely. However, you can never actually cool something to this temperature because, in quantum mechanics, every particle has a minimum energy, called “zero-point energy,” which you cannot get below. One of the properties of a negative-energy vacuum is that light actually travels faster in it than it does in a normal vacuum, something that may one day allow people to travel faster than the speed of light in a kind of negative-energy vacuum bubble. Relativity of Simultaneity Antimatter Retrocausality
Usenet Physics FAQ Version Date: March 2013 This list of answers to frequently asked questions in physics was created by Scott Chase in 1992. Its purpose was to provide good answers to questions that had been discussed often in the sci.physics and related Internet news groups. The articles in this FAQ are based on those discussions and on information from good reference sources. Most of the entries that you'll find here were written in the days when the Internet was brand new. So because of their age, the FAQ entries that you'll find here have a great deal of academic credibility—but they are not always perfect and complete. This document is copyright. General Physics Particle and Nuclear Physics Quantum Physics Relativity and Cosmology Speed of Light Special Relativity General Relativity and Cosmology Black Holes Reference Topics There are many other places where you may find answers to your question. This FAQ is currently available from these web sites: Australia:
Special Relativity Special Relativity These pages are ok as far as they go, but they are missing the planned highlight, to show you what things actually look like when you travel at near the speed of light. I hope to have the opportunity to develop these pages further as time permits. Meanwhile, these pages comprise an animated introduction to the elements of Special Relativity. And don't miss Prasenjit Saha's Interactive Lorentz Transformations. © 1998, 1999 Andrew Hamilton. Forward to The Postulates of Special Relativity Hey, get me back to Falling into a Black Hole Unless otherwise stated, clicking on images gives you enlarged versions thereof, which may be easier to view in a classroom environment. Special Relativity: Index Andrew Hamilton's Homepage Other Relativity and Black Hole links