Of Particular Significance

The Smoking Gun for Extra Dimensions

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 01/13/2012

We’re in the midst of a turning point in scientific history, with many different types of discoveries reported of planets around other stars. It certainly is starting to appear that planets around stars are the rule, not the exception.  This is an enormously important development in our understanding of our universe… so a hearty congratulations to the planet hunters!

I hope there are some good articles out there outlining the diverse array of methods being used in these discoveries; there’s a lot of good physics and astrophysics being exploited.  Since this isn’t my area of expertise I’m inclined for the moment to leave this to others… especially since I have some very urgent research going on, which is why posts have been sparse since the New Year.  (I’ll describe that research later; it’s nothing earth-shaking or exciting, but I feel it is very important for LHC operations in 2012.)  If any readers have found an article of this type, please leave a comment.

Meanwhile I’m continuing to develop the Extra Dimensions series of articles, and I’ve now followed up my examples of extra dimensions with a next installment, a first discussion of what scientists would look for in trying to identify that our world actually has one or more extra dimensions .  The new article describes one of the key clues that would indicate their presence.  But this is far from the end of the story: I owe you more articles, explaining why extra dimensions would generate this clue, outlining how we try to search for this clue experimentally, and mentioning other possible clues that might arise.  All in due course…

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6 Responses

  1. Strange Plato. Your link works fine. Clicking on the title gives you the the abstract at the address I gave. Thanks for the help.

  2. Actually, Matt referenced an article published in Nature, online, January 11, 2011. It isn’t getting much press considering, but it is quite a big deal. Astronomers from some 24 universities and institutions, from Osaka to Caltech, NASA and groups all over Europe participated in a 6 year statistical analysis of microlensing data gathered by telescopes from 2002-2007 to identify the frequency of planets around stars. They found stars are orbited by planets as a rule (est. 1-2 avg per star) rather than the exception. They also estimated there are about 10 billion planets orbiting stars in the “habitable zone” in our galaxy. The article may be purchased at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v481/n7350/full/nature10684.html. The ESA, European Space Agency apparently has an article also, but as yet I have not read it.

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