Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Conference Impressions

Second day here at the APS. A guy is talking right now on MHD (MagnetoHydroDynamic) Turbulence. It is nice that they have wireless in every room, although it is quite choppy.

Yesterday although we tried to wake up early, we arrived at the conference at 9am (this is 6am in LA time...). We missed the review talk but we went by the poster section. I asked about and learned about Stellarators with weird coils (it is a device that people hope will achieve fusion one day), and also about MRI (not Magnetic Resonance Imagining, here in plasma people it means Magnetic Reconnection Instability). Magnetic reconnection happens when two magnetic field lines merge into a single one. It offers an explanation on the way that sun creates its solar wind from what I read in an earlier Scientific American article. It also affects the rotation of accretion discs which is right now a very popular topic in physics (unexplained fully). So MRI happens when a magnetic field seperates a fluid elemement (it can be anything from water to stars) radially, and once that happens each element moves at a different speed and they seperate even more. This is one explanation of the formation of the rotation in these discs. (Note that the out element moves faster and the inner element moves slower as is the case with every rotating item).

Today we saw an exciting talk on AntiHydrogen. A guy named Gabrielse, excellent speaker started by showing us how Dan Brown's Angels and Deamons tremendously affected negatively his field (as The Da VInci Code screwed up the catholic church). In the book some guy goes an steals antimatter from the heart of CERN and decides to use it to blow up the Vatican (antimatter explodes when in contact with normal matter). However Brown failed to mention that all the antimatter produced in all history can barely boil a cup of tea...

So Gabrielse explained how they have created antiprorons and positrons (generated at CERN),
and then they have to cool them down and merge them together to produce cold (slow moving)
antihydrogen. They could create "warm" (fast-moving) antihydrogen but then it's not very easy to use it for something. Anyway they are at a point now where they can create several cold atoms but only at excited states, i.e. the positron is not orbiting the anti-nucleus at the lower (closer to the antiproton) state. Eventually we will be able to create antimolecules. Now they just want to compare properties of the normal atom and the anti-atom to verify (or disprove) the Standard Model of physics. It is a very exciting field I believe.