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The Mystery Of The Oh My God Particle | Answers With Joe



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 –



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.

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  1. Rebecca Duncan

    December 10, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    damn nice looking man at 42 years old, I hope that Rebecca didn't ruin you for all Rebeccas!

  2. Jordan Archibald

    December 11, 2017 at 2:22 am

    Will you do a video on how the length of a meter is determined?

  3. Roberto Lora

    December 11, 2017 at 8:31 am

    What a wicked video Joe – thanks!!!

  4. Vincent Cleaver

    December 11, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I have the dumbs today… how do I buy your t-shirts? thanks in advance!

  5. Nathan Gibson

    December 12, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I love you. You are my favorite channel.

  6. Philipp Sesar

    December 12, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    What picture is this ? 0:16

  7. the hills have thighs

    December 13, 2017 at 6:17 am

    You're a good actor

  8. Bulcsú Farmasi

    December 13, 2017 at 6:35 am

    I like the intro. Very creative!

  9. Micah Metcalf

    December 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Joe, l have been subbed to your channel for a while now. While l cannot gift you financially, l do actively lobby for my university mates to view your videos on a regular basis. Just commenting here to let you know you’re doing a great job and hope your channel gets the recognition it deserves! Hope you have a great day.

  10. 45asunder1

    December 14, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I'm looking for a sailor…

  11. Mr.Meeseek! Look at me!!

    December 15, 2017 at 2:56 pm


    He's so cute

  12. Fighter4Freedom7

    December 18, 2017 at 2:23 am

    What if antimatter is still in our universe? What if all the massive voids that we see in between all the superclusters are where matter and antimatter annihilated each other? If any antimatter never came in contact with matter, it would still be there. What if what we see in the Observable Universe are clusters of antimatter just isolated from the clusters of regular matter? If you could make a video about what you think on that, that would great.

  13. Hazcool45

    December 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Best science channel this and kursgaezazt thanks joe

  14. Michael Hauser

    December 23, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    OMG Joe is acting again! Fml

  15. Shraga Mildiner

    December 31, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Oh my god! (Pun intended) you have What If!

  16. Awesome Guy

    January 3, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    he looks like christian bale sometimes

  17. Boomer0888

    January 13, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    That intro was incredible lol

  18. pluggie

    January 19, 2018 at 1:37 am

    something up with the mic in this video?

  19. Chris Pacman

    January 20, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Has anyone told you you sound like Charlie Day…

  20. Davut Tanir

    January 27, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I was looking for greisen zatsepin kuzmin limit but this came up. The closest thing in the whole list of results. YouTube is retarded

  21. Partho Bhattacharya

    January 29, 2018 at 8:13 pm


  22. Dhaval Brahmbhatt

    February 1, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    OMG you are 42?

  23. Finn sharp

    February 7, 2018 at 8:11 pm



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