Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Time-Traveling Particles and Particles That Can Become Waves

Proof that tachyons exist: the second wave function registers first.
In physics today, we went straight into continuing our speed of light experiments. My group concluded, based on our data, that our laser was not, in fact, sending out photons, but was sending out a beam of tachyons. Tachyons are theoretical mass-less particles that travel faster than the speed of light and therefore go backwards in time. The first known observation of them happened today, at Penn. It actually took so long for everyone to get good data that we did that for the entire morning--about three hours.

After lunch, we got into our interest groups and continued where we left off yesterday. After re-measuring and adjusting everything (because the apparatus had been moved since yesterday) my group gathered data on the intensity of the light at different positions when it is going through a double slit. For nearly an hour, the only sound was this: "Four point one three millimeters. Three, two, one, start. Click. Three, two, one, stop. Click. Thirty-six thousand, four hundred and eight. Five point two five millimeters. Three, two, one, start. Click. Three, two, one, stop. Click. Seventy-nine thousand, fifty-two. Five point seven millimeters. Three, two, one..." Taking data is boring and routine, but a necessary part of most experiments. Tomorrow (and the next day if we don't finish tomorrow) we will gather the data for each single slit setup.

Too close for comfort. Not too close I didn't have time to pause and take a picture, though, of course.
After class, as I was walking to dinner, I reflected on the incredibly tame and fearless squirrels that run up to you as if expecting to be fed. You just have to wonder how many people were bitten before the squirrels realized that humans meant food and didn't attack them...

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