Cosmology below zero in the top ten of physics

Among the ten key findings of 2013 chosen by the magazine Physics World, three relate to astronomy: the cosmic neutrinos captured by IceCube, on top of the podium, the “modes B’ in the polarization of the cosmic background.prepare

Dr. James Derrickson of NASA/Marshall places photographic emulsions in a temperature- and humidity-control cabinet where the plates will cure after being poured by hand.

 Source: – Credit: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

The three experiments in astrophysics present among the top ten of the top ten of Physics World. From top, clockwise: IceCube, the South Pole Telescope and Planck.

Two are from the South Pole and the third from the cold of deep space. If there is one common trait that immediately strikes the eye between the three astrophysical results in the annual top ten of Physics World, is that all come from the cold: from the cold polar ice, as in the case of IceCube to the South Pole Telescope. And what’s even more glacial second Lagrangian point, 1.5 million km from Earth, where he was until a few months ago the Planck space telescope. On closer inspection, these three experiments, to have several traits in common other, starting from the importance of their results for groped to do a little light on that 95 percent of the universe that there is still quite obscure. But let’s order, and see how they are placed – and in the company of those who – in the list of “Breakthrough of the Year 2013 ‘ compiled by the magazine of the Institute of Physics in London.

The first place goes to the 28 cosmic neutrinos captured thanks to more than 5000 sensors lowered into a cubic kilometer of ice at the South Pole, by researchers at the IceCube collaboration. Their detection, opening a window different from those of electromagnetic radiation, it marks “the dawn of a new astronomy,” as explained by the INAF president Giovanni Bignami. On the other two steps of the podium, the strange “peroidal” shape of some atomic nuclei and the creation of the first “molecules of light”, pairs of photons that travel hand in hand.

In fourth place, according to astrophysical topics of the rankings, is “the universe almost perfect” of Planck’s’ presented to the world in March 2013. The recognition goes, to be exact, “the scientists of the Planck space telescope for the most accurate measurement that has ever been made ​​of the cosmic microwave background,” as the motivation on the certificate sent to all members of the collaboration. This result is largely European, because many among Planck’s’ scientists – from the head of one of the two instruments aboard the telescope, Reno Mandolesi – are still working at institutes and universities in Italy.

In the fifth, sixth and seventh positions are, respectively, the two experiments of quantum mechanics and the first computer made from carbon nanotubes. Still cosmology, and even Antarctica, in eighth place in the standings, awarded to researchers at the South Pole Telescope for being the first to detect “modes B” in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. Finally, close the top ten of the first Bose- Einstein -cooled laser and the identification of a kind of “butterfly effect” – a typical fractal pattern – in a real solid, three-dimensional .

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