On October 15th 1991, astronomers recorded a cosmic ray that was moving faster than should be possible – and despite the fact they’ve found a whole lot since, they have no idea where they come from.
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Cosmic ray shatter animation – Sean Quinn
Magnetic field animation – Space.com
From 1983 to 1991 on the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, an experiment had been under way by the University of Utah called the Fly’s Eye Cosmic Ray Detector.
And this is how they found the Oh My God particle, but before I explain it, let me back up and talk about cosmic rays so you can fully grasp the Oh My God reaction here.
Cosmic rays are mostly made up of the nuclei of atoms, 90% of them are single protons – the nuclei of hydrogen atoms. These are much higher energy than solar radiation because unlike photons they actually have mass.
This was the first ultra-high energy cosmic ray discovered, which was shocking not just because of it had a lot of energy, but because it kind-of shouldn’t have been possible thanks to something called the GZK cutoff.
GZK stands for the scientists Kenneth Greisen, Georgie Zatsepin and Vadim Kuzmin, who set a speed limit for cosmic rays at 5 x 10 to the 19th electron volts, or 8 joules of energy. It was believed that particles couldn’t exceed this limit due to interactions with photons in the microwave background radiation.
This new class of cosmic rays became known as trans-GZK cosmic rays. They are super rare and believed to be from fairly close by in order to have that kind of speed – the less they’ve travelled, the less they would be slowed down by the CMB.
Since discovering the OMG particle, there have been a slew of new cosmic ray observatories like the Pierre Auger observatory and the Telescope Array Project, which is the successor to the fly’s eye.
There have also been efforts to focus on high-energy neutrinos with the belief that they may be created in a similar process to the high-energy cosmic rays. There’s an observatory underneath the south pole that specializes in that.
Andrew Lessman on the Monday Night Show – 1/22
Visiting Mars May Actually Become a Reality After New Discovery
Do you have dreams of one day settling on Mars? Then we have some pretty exciting news for you.
In the latest issue of Science, researchers confirmed the discovery of easily accessible water ice located beneath the planet’s surface. Though scientists have known about water on Mars for years, these deposits are much different than those previously discovered. How so? They’re relatively pure.
“At these locations its quite a thick ice sheet of rather clean ice,” said USGS planetary geologist Colin Dundas, who was involved with the discovery. “There’s certainly some amount of dust and debris in it, and there can be small amounts of salts or other things as well, but what we’re seeing at the scarps are predominately ice.”
The size and purity of these ice sheets can be extremely beneficial for future missions to Mars. Not only can this water be mined for drinking or growing crops for long-term visits, it can also be combined with carbon dioxide to create oxygen or be converted into rocket fuel, which would significantly decrease the payload.
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Incredible T-Rex Discovery Reveals Something Amazing
Incredible T-Rex discovery reveals something amazing. We take a look at the incredible discovery of a tyrannosaurus rex.
Aside from being one of the largest of the known carnivorous dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex is the dinosaur that has arguably received the most media exposure.
Due to tyrannosaurus rexs popularity it’s spawned a huge number of books, movies, TV shows, and even video games. What’s truly amazing, though, is how much about this carnivore that was once assumed as fact has lately been called into question, and how much is still being discovered.
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