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The Aerospace Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about aeronautics, astronautics, fixed-wing aircraft, future space travel, satellites, NASA, and much more.

Exploring the Mysteries of the Universe through Particle Physics

Posted March 26, 2015 1:16 PM by Quasar

Artist's rendition of a high-energy collision inside a particle detector (Image: CERN)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland is being restarted after a two year period of maintenance.

It will operate with nearly twice the energy it was capable of handling during the discovery of the Higgs boson. The first run of the LHC operated for 3 years until 2013 with a collision energy of 7 to 8 TeV. The second run will start at 13 TeV.

Scientists anticipate that the higher energy levels will allow investigation of a number of areas of theoretical physics:

New exotic particles

  • There might be exotic particles that up until now have not been identified because they do not interact through the electromagnetic force. If they have mass, they could interact with the field associated with the Higgs boson.

Dark matter and supersymmetry

  • Currently scientists don't really know what dark matter is. We can detect it only by its gravitational effects. If one theory is right, "supersymmetric" particles that are paired with those already known in the Standard Model of physics might be detected. These theoretical particles might be a part of the makeup of dark matter.

Extra dimensions

  • It's not understood why gravity is such a weak force compared to other elementary forces like the electromagnetic force. One explanation postulates that gravity seems weaker because a portion of it extends to other dimensions. If extra dimensions exist, theories predict that they would contain heavier versions of standard particles, just as atoms have low-energy and high-energy states. The higher energies of Run 2 might reveal the presence of these heavy particles that indicate there are extra dimensions than the four that are currently known.


  • Another mystery of the universe is the imbalance of matter and antimatter. There is far more regular matter, but the Big Bang should have created both types in equal measure. With the higher energies of the second run of the LHC, more antimatter can be produced, allowing scientists to look for differences in the properties of matter and antimatter.

Quark-gluon plasma

  • During the milliseconds after the Big Bang, the universe may have existed as a "quark soup" of asymptotically free quarks and gluons. This unique state of matter only exists at extremely high temperatures and densities. The high energy collisions of the LHC will allow scientists to examine the properties of this quark-gluon plasma that dominated the first moments of the universe.
4 comments; last comment on 03/28/2015
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Greener Aviation Needed to Reduce Global Pollution

Posted March 17, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

When someone refers to "emissions," you immediately think of automobiles and trucks, or perhaps power plants. Yet according to this piece, commercial aviation generates more greenhouse gases than all but six countries worldwide. And, if present trends continue, global greenhouse gas emissions will triple by 2050. This report from Engineering360 examines steps that the industry can take to reduce emissions, including modernizing aircraft fleets, adopting more direct flight routes, and researching cleaner propulsion technologies.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Aerospace Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox

8 comments; last comment on 03/20/2015
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New Ground Collision Avoidance Systems

Posted March 09, 2015 12:00 AM by joeymac

I just read an article that I found very interesting. The Air Force has a new ground collision avoidance system that has officially saved its first pilot. Since this new technology has already saved a pilot's life, it's being considered a big success. According to the Air Force, 26% of aircraft losses and 75% of pilot fatalities are caused by ground collisions. The system is called Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) which was developed by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works and NASA.

What this system does is it temporarily takes command of the aircraft from the pilot and executes an automatic recovery maneuver when it detects that an impact with terrain is imminent. The system constantly compares the trajectory of the aircraft with a terrain profile generated from the onboard digital terrain elevation data.

If the system detects a threat, an evasion command is issued and if the pilot takes no action the system automatically assumes control of the plane. The recovery process issues an abrupt roll-to-upright followed by a 5g pull until clearance of the terrain is assured. The system can also be overridden by the pilot at any time. I'm thinking that this must have been required by pilots to make sure they can have control of their aircraft at any time.

Currently this technology is only available in the F-16 fighter jets.

1 comments; last comment on 03/13/2015
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Hardware's Role in Aircraft Lightweighting

Posted March 04, 2015 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

It's important to consider the subjective experience of end users when designing lightweight materials into aircraft. For example, torque hinging can impart a feeling of sturdiness to items such as lightweight seatback trays. Standardizing on components such as hinges and latches throughout the aircraft can also offset some of the expense of redesign and retooling. Since engineers will be familiar with the capabilities of the component they will know what to expect when they use it in different applications. Beside hinges, another example is remotely actuated safety latches, which can be used throughout the cabin for access control.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Aerospace Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox

3 comments; last comment on 03/05/2015
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Lasers Speed Space Communications

Posted February 22, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS GlobalSpec eNewsletter

To continuously stream data from its Sentinel-1 Earth-observing instruments to ground-based receivers - regardless of location - the European Space Agency is testing laser data link-ups with geostationary satellites. Similarly, NASA is using laser communications to transmit text and images to Earth from the International Space Station. In demonstrations, the system required just seven seconds to downlink a video that required 12 hours to uplink by radio transmission, the current technology.

Editor's Note: This news brief was brought to you by the Aerospace Technology eNewsletter. Subscribe today to have content like this delivered to your inbox

1 comments; last comment on 02/22/2015
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Pulse Detonation Engines

Posted February 14, 2015 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

Talking about engines is a mechanical engineer's treat and we are sure that this one is going to be a special one for you. We are talking about the pulse detonation engine (PDE).

It can be defined as a type of propulsion system in which detonation of the air-fuel combustible mixture is done to generate super power. Detonation here means compressing the air-fuel mixture prior to the ignition process. Due to this, a compressor is not used in this engine. The pressure can go as high as 10 MPa. This is done for creating a pulsejet that can detonate the mixture.

This process is different from deflagration which is used in car engines, where low pressure is required for gentle ignition. But here the ignition is violent. It is so violent that mechanical shutters that are widely used in engines are of no application. To counter that, a series of valves is used to carefully time the process.

PDE can be operated with many fuels. We can use bio-gas, natural gas, propane, coal, kerosene, octane and jet fuels. By the way, this engine can be operated on literally any fuel but it will take a high level of engineering to make such adjustments.

A PDE is an engine where the main scientific attraction is its design and versatility. Because of its design that offers power, it finds many areas of application, especially in defence services.

  • In missiles and UAVs
  • In the USA military aircraft Rutan Long-EZ (pictured)
  • For electric power generation in both civilian and military work fields
  • In both small scale and large scale power plants

PDEs are our future. A lot of research has been conducted and more research needs to be carried out in order to increase its area of application and make it a 'real' household name.

image - Wikipedia

5 comments; last comment on 02/16/2015
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