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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Mysteries, Magnetars and Majoranas


Hey guys, Jon again, just letting you know how things are going here in the land of Things We Don't Know now I'm almost halfway through my internship here. It's been a busy few days. I have still been writing small pieces, and am learning to be more thorough in the manner in which I check facts and sources, thanks in no small part to substantial feedback and support from Ed.

You might be wondering what exactly it is that I've been writing about, well, the range of material I'm covering is very broad. Some of the things I've been looking at include the way black holes can spin, dragging the fabric of space-time with them, what Magnetars are and why their magnetic fields are so strong,  and why there is so much water here on Earth, yet so little on our close neighbour Venus. I think the area which I have enjoyed researching the most however has been in particle physics. I learned that in 1937, an Italian physicist named Ettore Majorana established that the equations which had predicted the existence of antimatter particles, could in some circumstances be solved such that a particle was it's own antiparticle. These hypothetical particles are known as Majorana fermions, but detecting them has thus far proven difficult. I find this theoretical approach to particle physics appealing, because it demonstrates the power of the underlying maths.

Last week I mentioned that I had begun work on a larger article, covering the topics of dark matter and dark energy. I am pleased to say that I have been able to make good progress on this front, having had exceedingly informative discussions with both Dr. Tim Clifton and Prof. Steve Thomas at QMUL. As a result of these conversations, I have expanded my own knowledge of the field, as well as being pointed in the direction of other useful areas of study. The Dark Matter piece is now in second draft form, and I am writing my next piece about Dark Energy.

The faculty at QMUL have been so helpful and it is my intention to speak to as many of them as possible, regarding the unanswered questions in their own fields. I would also be very happy to hear from anyone else who has something they think I should be writing about. Are there unanswered questions in Physics that you think are interesting, or that you'd like to see written about?

Feel free to get in touch with Things We Don’t Know about other sciences too – drop contact@thingswedontknow.com a message.