Nav: Home

Physicists and engineers search for new dimension

March 10, 2008

Blacksburg, Va. -- The universe as we currently know it is made up of three dimensions of space and one of time, but researchers in the Department of Physics and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech are exploring the possibility of an extra dimension.

Sound like an episode from the "Twilight Zone"" Almost, but not quite; according to John Simonetti, associate professor of physics in the College of Science and Michael Kavic, graduate student and one of the investigators on the project.

"The idea we're exploring is that the universe has an imperceptibly small dimension (about one billionth of a nanometer) in addition to the four that we know currently," Kavic said. "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 group is looking for small primordial black holes that, when they explode, may produce a radio pulse that could be detected here on Earth. These black holes are called primordial because they were created a fraction of a second after the beginning of the universe.

Black holes are expected to evaporate over time, losing mass and therefore shrinking. 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.

The explosion could 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 in Montgomery County 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 several months.

"We have a number of things in mind that have been predicted to produce radio pulses, which have not been seen," Simonetti said. "One of them is a primordial black hole explosion."

"Basically we're looking for any exotic, high-energy explosion that would produce radio waves," Simonetti said. He said the establishment of the second radio telescope would help the two telescopes validate one another.

"If a pulse is detected in both instruments at about the same time, that's a good indication we're talking about something real as opposed to a pulse from manmade interference," Simonetti said.

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, a much less elaborate and costly endeavor.

The Virginia Tech research team plans to run the search for at least five years. Others involved in the project include physics graduate student Sean Cutchin; College of Engineering professors Steven Ellingson and Cameron Patterson; and graduate students Brian Martin, Kshitija Deshpande, and Mahmud Harun.

"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."
-end-
For more information about the project, view the project online at http://www.ece.vt.edu/swe/eta/.

Virginia Tech

Related Black Holes Articles:

Staining cycles with black holes
In the treatment of tumors, microenvironment plays an important role.
Black holes sometimes behave like conventional quantum systems
A group of Skoltech researchers led by Professor Anatoly Dymarsky have studied the emergence of generalized thermal ensembles in quantum systems with additional symmetries.
Scientists may have discovered whole new class of black holes
New research shows that astronomers' search for black holes might have been missing an entire class of black holes that they didn't know existed.
Growing old together: A sharper look at black holes and their host galaxies
The 'special relationship' between supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their hosts -- something astronomers and physicists have observed for quite a while -- can now be understood as a bond that begins early in a galaxy's formation and has a say in how both the galaxy and the SMBH at its center grow over time, according to a new study from Yale University.
Are black holes made of dark energy?
Two University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers have identified and corrected a subtle error that was made when applying Einstein's equations to model the growth of the universe.
Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes
Astronomers have just managed to take the first image of a black hole, and now the next challenge facing them is how to take even sharper images, so that Einstein's Theory of General Relativity can be tested.
Can entangled qubits be used to probe black holes?
Information escapes from black holes via Hawking radiation, so it should be possible to capture it and use it to reconstruct what fell in: if given time longer than the age of the universe.
How black holes power plasma jets
Cosmic robbery powers the jets streaming from a black hole, new simulations reveal.
The orderly chaos of black holes
During the formation of a black hole a bright burst of very energetic light in the form of gamma-rays is produced, these events are called gamma-ray bursts.
Mystery of coronae around supermassive black holes deepens
Researchers have used observations from the ALMA radio observatory to measure, for the first time, the strength of magnetic fields near two supermassive black holes at the centers of an important type of active galaxies.
More Black Holes News and Black Holes Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.