Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Confirming Einstein, Scientists Find 'Spacetime Foam' Not Slowing Down Photons from Far-Away Gamma Ray Burst

17.03.2015

One hundred years after Albert Einstein formulated the Theory of Relativity, an international team has proposed another experimental proof. In a paper published today in Nature Physics, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Open University of Israel, Sapienza University of Rome, and University of Montpellier in France, describe a proof for one of the theory's basic assumptions: the idea that all light particles, or photons, propagate at exactly the same speed.

The researchers analyzed data, obtained by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, of the arrival times of photons from a distant Gamma-Ray Burst. The data showed that photons traveling for billions of years from the distant burst toward Earth all arrived within a fraction of a second of each other.


Prof. Tsvi Piran, the Schwartzmann University Chair at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics (Photo by Sasson Tiram for Hebrew University)

This finding indicates that the photons all moved at the same speed, even though different photons had different energies. This is one of the best measurements ever of the independence of the speed of light from the energy of the light particles.

Beyond confirming the General Theory of Relativity, the observation rules out one of the interesting ideas concerning the unification of General Relativity and Quantum Theory. While these two theories are the pillars of physics today, they are still inconsistent and there is an intrinsic contradiction between the two that is partially based on Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that is at the heart of Quantum Theory.

One of the attempts to reconcile the two theories is the idea of “space-time foam.” According to this concept, on a microscopic scale space is not continuous, and instead it has a foam-like structure. The size of these foam elements is so tiny that it is difficult to imagine and is at present impossible to measure directly. However light particles that are traveling within this foam will be affected by the foamy structure, and this will cause them to propagate at slightly different speeds depending on their energy.

Yet this experiment shows otherwise. The fact that all the photons with different energies arrived with no time delay relative to each other indicates that such a foamy structure, if it exists at all, has a much smaller size than previously expected.

“When we began our analysis, we didn’t expect to obtain such a precise measurement,” said Prof. Tsvi Piran, the Schwartzmann University Chair at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics and a leader of the research. “This new limit is at the level expected from quantum gravity theories and can direct us how to combine Quantum Theory and Relativity."

The research paper, 'A Planck-scale limit on spacetime fuzziness and stochastic Lorentz invariance violation,' appears on the Nature Physics website (DOI 10.1038/nphys3270).

This research was supported by an ERC advanced grant; the I-CORE Israeli Centers Of Research Excellence; the Israel Space Agency; the joint Israel Science Foundation (ISF) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) program; and the Templeton Foundation.

Albert Einstein was a founder of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He bequeathed his writings, intellectual heritage and the rights to his image to the Hebrew University.

For information, contact:

Dov Smith
Hebrew University Foreign Press Liaison
+972-2-5882844 / +972-54-8820860
dovs@savion.huji.ac.il

www.huji.ac.il

Dov Smith | Hebrew University

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>