Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New "Twilight Zone" Dimension Sought

This report forwarded by T Peter Park. Lovecraft would be fascinated with this. I wonder at the stories he might write based upon this science.

New "Twilight Zone" Dimension Sought

Link: an episode from "Twilight Zone," scientists are exploring the possibility "that the universe has an imperceptibly small dimension (about one billionth of a nanometer) in addition to the four that we know currently," according to Michael Kavic, one of the investigators on the project at Virginia Tech. "This extra dimension would be curled up, in a state similar to that of the entire universe at the time of the Big Bang."The team of physicists at Virgina Tech is looking for small primordial black holes created a fraction of a second after the beginning of the universe that, when they explode, may produce a radio pulse that could be detected here on Earth. A black hole larger than the extra dimension would wrap around it like a thick rubber band wrapped around a hose. As a black hole shrinks down to the size of the extra dimension, it would be stretched so thin it would snap, causing an explosion, which would produce a radio pulse. Under a National Science Foundation grant, the Virginia Tech group is preparing to set up an Eight-meter-wavelength Transient Array radio telescope to search the sky for these radio pulses from explosions up to 300 light years away. They have a similar telescope in southwestern North Carolina that has been looking for events for the past several months.

Why search for extra dimensions? One reason has to do with string theory, an area of physics that postulates that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are small strings of matter that oscillate much like a guitar string, producing various harmonics. "String theory requires extra dimensions to be a consistent theory," Kavic said. "String theory suggests a minimum of 10 dimensions, but we're only considering models with one extra dimension."Some theorists believe the Large Hadron Collider, a giant particle accelerator being constructed near Geneva, Switzerland, might be able to detect an extra dimension. The Virginia Tech group hopes to detect them via radio astronomy over a five-year period, a much less elaborate and costly endeavor."If we had evidence there is an extra dimension, it would really revolutionize how we think about space and time," Kavic said. "This would be a very exciting discovery."

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