Dark matter, cosmic rays, open access, antimatter and LHC protons

abernard102@gmail.com 2012-08-20


“This weekend I was on BBC Radio 4 Today programme chatting about two interesting astrophysics results which came out recently. You can listen to it here if you are so inclined. Here are some pointers to more background information than we could squeeze in to those few minutes. The dark matter result: Dark matter is supposed to constitute about 80% of the matter in the universe, and it is only revealed by its gravitational influence. It was postulated in the first place is because it is needed to explain the rotational speeds of stars around the centre of galaxies. The new result is a study of the velocities of the ‘local’ stars - within about 13,000 light years. (As Douglas Adams said, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.) The analysis seems to show that at least in the region around us there is not much dark matter at all. Peter Coles, the blogging Cardiff cosmologist, has done a better job of explaining the nuances than I could, and I recommend his article if you are interested in knowing more. The cosmic rays: This is also really interesting and surprising, and I want to say more about it later. But there's already a good summary on these pages from Robin McKie, and I'm short of time so I won't say any more for now. Except this: the dark matter paper has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal and is available free on the arxiv. The cosmic ray paper is published in Nature and is also freely available on the arxiv. This indicates that high profile journals and practical, open access to scientific results are not utterly incompatible, whatever problems there are with the costs involved. As has been mentioned elsewhere and often, basically all particle physics and astronomy results are available on the arxiv, as well as in journals. I find it astonishing that more scientists don't use such services, and I really thing they should. I grumped here that the recent antimatter result from Alpha at CERN was not so available; it still isn't on arxiv, but it is now available from the experiment's web page, which is great. Here's the link. Again, I think this shows there's no real excuse for scientists not making their results available free of charge even if for other reasons they want to publish them in high impact journals as well. Meanwhile back at the day job, the LHC restarted earlier this month has already delivered about 20% as much data we got in the whole of last year, and is running really well. Which is one reason this was supposed to be a ‘quick catch up’, though it turned out a bit longer than I expected.”




08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 18:08

Date published:

04/24/2012, 13:25