Strange Unexplained Cosmic Rays (ft PhD Comics) | Summary and Q&A

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June 21, 2017
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Physics Girl
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Strange Unexplained Cosmic Rays (ft PhD Comics)

TL;DR

Physicists discover mysterious high-energy particles called cosmic rays, including the record-breaking Oh My God Particle, but their origins remain unknown.

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Key Insights

  • 👾 Cosmic rays are high-energy particles that constantly bombard the Earth from outer space and cause various effects.
  • 🙌 The Oh My God Particle is a cosmic ray with extreme energy levels, surpassing any particles produced on Earth.
  • 🖤 The origins of cosmic rays remain a mystery, with possible explanations including supermassive black holes or unknown forces in the universe.
  • 🙌 The detection and study of cosmic rays are challenging due to their rarity, but advancements like smartphone particle detectors offer potential solutions.

Transcript

ANNOUNCER: This episode is brought to you by Curiosity Stream. OK, dad, I want to talk about the mystery metal thing. What do you remember about that? Well, I remember pretty clearly. I was coming back from the sawmill, and I just heard a loud bang in the back of my truck. I looked in the back, and there was a round piece of metal that was kind o... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What are cosmic rays, and how do they differ from rays of light?

Cosmic rays are actually high-energy particles, like protons and atomic nuclei, that can be ejected from stars or supernovas. Unlike rays of light, they have mass and can cause chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Q: What is the Oh My God Particle, and why is it significant?

The Oh My God Particle is a cosmic ray particle discovered in 1991 with record-breaking energy levels. It travels at nearly the speed of light and possesses more than two million times the energy of particles produced by the Large Hadron Collider.

Q: Where do cosmic rays come from, and why are their origins still a mystery?

The origins of cosmic rays are unknown. While they can be generated by processes like supernovas or supermassive black holes, scientists have observed that they do not originate from the known areas in space where these phenomena occur.

Q: How can smartphones help in detecting cosmic rays?

Scientists have proposed using the cameras in smartphones to create a particle-finding app. By encouraging people worldwide to run this app, scientists hope to increase the chances of detecting high-energy cosmic rays.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Physicists in the 1980s built an observatory in Utah to study the flashes of light produced by cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.

  • In 1991, they discovered the Oh My God Particle, a submicroscopic particle traveling at an extraordinary speed and possessing immense energy.

  • Cosmic rays are high-energy particles that constantly bombard the Earth, causing phenomena like the northern lights, but their sources are still unexplained.

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