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Space Science

Do Strangelets Pass Through Earth? 555

Weirdolet writes: "Ananova are reporting that ultra-dense, pollen sized strangelets (aka nuggets of strange quarks) travelling at 900,000 miles per hour hit the earth, violently pass through it and have done on at least two occasions already. It's also reported, allegedly, in the Sunday telegraph but I haven't found it there yet :P Coming to a particle accelerator near you soon ... ?" Another reader has found the story at the Telegraph.
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Do Strangelets Pass Through Earth?

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  • by mochan_s ( 536939 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @10:56PM (#3508379)
    For those of you freaking out, here's a link Strangelets are strange but not dangerous [aip.org]
    • Okay, tell me that again when a 1-ton strangelet rips through the roof of your house and goes through you from head to toe. Which part of that doesn't sound dangerous, or plausible (albeit unlikely)?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2002 @02:43AM (#3508940)
        It's really not even worth considering, much like being hit by a meteor. OK, a bit of quick, incredibly inaccurate math:

        Let's assume, for a second, that you're Joe Average. You have a 32-inch waist, so your cross-sectional area (assuming you're perfectly circular) is pi*(32/(2*pi))^2, or 81.5, square inches (using 3.14 as pi).

        The Earth is about 24,000 miles around. Assuming it's a sphere, that makes its surface area 4*pi*(24,000*5,280*12)^2, or 2.90 x 10^19, square inches.

        Assuming an equal distribution of strangelet hits over the surface of the Earth, you will be hit by 2*(81.5 / 2.90 x 10^19) of the strangelets that hit the Earth's surface, which rounds off to approximately a 2 x 10^-17 chance of an impact per strangelet.

        Assuming 2 is the average number of strangelet events in a given year, your odds of being hit by a strangelet are 1 in 3 x 10^15 (3 quadrillion) or so in your lifetime (if you live for 80 years). Those odds are equivalent to winning the lottery back-to-back, then rolling a pair of dice once and getting snake eyes. To put it another way, it's equivalent to getting hit by two bolts of lightning at the same time and then rolling a 00 on two consecutive D100s.

        (Disclaimer: I am not a statistician, and I don't even have a calculator, so this was all back-of-the-envelope math and is probably grossly inaccurate.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And then ends it with "humans are unlikely to be harmed." We can't make Hollywood blockbusters with those types of "facts." Killer Strangelets from Outer Space needs to have KILLER Stragelets!
  • statistical data (Score:2, Interesting)

    by doubtless ( 267357 )
    I would really like to see the statistical data of earth quakes, What are the possibilities of that happening just by chance, as compared to stranglets or any other 'unconfirmed' theories.

    Sometimes human has the tendencies to take coincidence and correlations as evidence, not that I am saying this is the case.
    • ok, I see 500,000 detectable earthquakes a year (earthquake.usgs.gov) but they found earthquakes in 1993 so we presume their 1,000,000 earthquakes sampled happened over the course of maybe 10 years (knowing this would help)? So out of 5 million they studied 1m.

      Total area of earth = 500,000,000 km^2. 10 years is 3650 days (5,250,000 minutes) so the average number of earthquakes per minute is, conveniently, one and the distribution is 1 per 100 sq km.

      What's the chance of 2 earthquakes happening at opposite sides of the world? Howabout within 30 seconds of eachother? See, I never got statistics, I have no idea how to figure this out. Anyone?
  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gangibson ( 82032 )
    ...seismometers recorded a violent event in Antarctica that packed a punch of several thousand tons of TNT ... The small size of strangelets means the blast is only big enough to have a very localised effect and humans are unlikely to be harmed.
    Oh.... okayyyyy... Huh. It's a very small incredibly powerful explosion, I guess. Must be like how there is a very low chance of a person being hit by lightning, but getting hit by lightning would still suck!
  • by AnimeFreak ( 223792 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @11:08PM (#3508412) Homepage
    The second event in November started in the Pacific Ocean travelling through Earth to appear in Antarctica 19 seconds later.
    For some reason Neon Genesis Evangleion comes to mind.
  • Then you reach the end of the article and they write "The small size of strangelets means the blast is only big enough to have a very localised effect and humans are unlikely to be harmed." to reassure people and stop them panicking!
  • I have often wondered what are the chances that these things could come to Earth.

    Considering we have seen (or measured) two instances I wonder when we will see more? Not just with these particles but other such strange or heavy particles.

    It's kind of cool - of all the space out there, literally, two (maybe the same one) has come through Earth. Very exciting indeed. I wonder what the implications of an encounter are. Are there anything that such a particle would change?

    I wonder though what would happen if it rips through your body, would you feel it? Imagine looking down on the scale in the morning and seeing it explode.

    One at a time please!


    [Karma Whores please reply with good information on Strangelets - Google isn't giving me great sites]
    • Two came through in the year 1993. Unless 1993 was special I would expect that this has happened more than twice.

      Somewhat similar to this story is the idea that the Tunguska explosion might have been caused by a small amount of antimatter or even a small black hole hitting Siberia.

      Tim
      • Last I heard, the thinking on Tunguska was that
        it was either a chunk of CO2 ice or Methane Ice
        that made it down to about 1 mile above ground before breakingup and vaporising. The Methane hypothesis also mentions the possibility of a HUGE fuel-air detonation...
        • Black hole and antimatter are ideas but they are less likely ideas :P.

          They are at least sensible ideas to hold, unlike the various ideas about UFOs, time travelling guys with a nuclear bomb, and a forgotten invention of Tesla's (which already has two replies!).

          Tim
      • Nope, I dont think that at all. I have another theory about the Tungsta explosion.

        It was man-made. Do you know when that happened (event wise, mind you?). It was when scientists went to the north pole for the first time. Another little fact: the Magnetic north pole and The Tungsta explosion center are on the same degree horizontal. Also, given the devastation of the area, and lack of debris, a comet could not have hit it. Next, having a black hole is preposterous. Instead, It looks like a nasty lightning storm hit it.

        Well, it could have been hit by electricity. Static electricity. Personally, I thing Tesla was behind that one. Why so? he was there then, and he needed proof that he could do nasty stuff. What better than to blast the north pole. He missed. We know he was messing around with directing electricty through air and ground (we have the patents that correspond).

        I'd be the first to think a rock or ice cube would clobber that area, BUT where is the debris? That black hole idea sounds like Hawking-ish crap.
  • From the article: "Just a single pollen-sized fragment is believed to weigh several tons... The small size of strangelets means the blast is only big enough to have a very localised effect and humans are unlikely to be harmed."

    "Unlikely" because the tiny blast is statistically unlikely to be near a person, I assume. So any theories on if these would actually damage a human if it DID pass through them?
    • So any theories on if these would actually damage a human if it DID pass through them?

      I dunno. From the article, it "packed the punch of several thousand tons of TNT." If you put several thousand tons of TNT on the head of a pin, would it really matter how many angels there were?

      Think back to high school physics.. F = 1/2 mv^2. From the article, if you get several tons up to 900,000 mph, that's going to leave a mark if it hits you...
      • by damien_kane ( 519267 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @01:20AM (#3508781)
        I don't think so.
        If you shot a bullet at a piece of cloth or paper that was held taught, it would merely put a hole in the paper, not obliterate it.
        If you shot it at point-blank, the explosion from the initial firing of the shell would have more effect on the paper than damage caused by the shell itself.
        If such a strangelet shot through matter, it would probably do two things (both, not one or the other)...

        1. It would create a tiny pin-sized hole in what it was passing through (as the only way matter can go through other matter is to push said other matter out of its way).
        It's not like the particle would mushrooom like a hollowpoint round, think of it more as an AP round (DUC maybe?).
        If a person gets shot with a depleted uranium shell (at a far enough range with a high velocity) It will merely pass through said person, whereas a hollowpoint (because of the mushrooming) would either leave a big exit wound or bounce around for a little while turn said person's guts into pudding... (no, don't say blood pudding... that's just a bad pun)...

        2. A lot of the matter it passes through would be converted to some other form of matter, as the strangelet particle loses/gains other quarks from the surrounding matter it passes through. If effect, passing through something like a planet would probably take half its mass and at least some of its velocity as the energy is expended.
    • So any theories on if these would actually damage a human if it DID pass through them?

      Unfortunately, the energy released just from the localized destruction of the tissues would be enough to instantly vaporize any poor soul who were to find themselves in the path of one of these things. Luckily, as noted, the odds of this are infinitesimally small.

      Knock wood, I guess. :)

    • Well they weigh several tons. One article said they would leave a crater. My body typically reacts violently when craters appear in it. (And that hasn't regularly occurred for 15 years now...)
    • by dragons_flight ( 515217 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @02:15AM (#3508881) Homepage
      Well, I'm hardly an expert, but off hand I'd say it's worth seriously asking whether you would even notice?

      Obviously these carry huge kinetic energies and it would only take only a small percentage of that energy to totally fry a human being. The real question is how much of the energy can a human actually absorb?

      These things have enormous amounts of momentum, and keep in mind that the whole EARTH isn't enough to stop one of these. How much could the soft tissues or even the bones of a human really do to stop one? Passing through at 900,000 mph, these would certainly leave a pollen grain sized hole straight through your body, but how much does it disrupt the surrounding tissues?

      I have been told (though perhaps someone can verify this?) that exit wounds decrease in size as a) bullet size decreases, b) velocity increases, c) less tissue is disrupted along the bullet path. In fact, IIRC exit wounds are larger primarily because of fragementation of the bullet and fragments of bones that get carried out with it. Entry wounds of course just reflect the cross-section of the bullet.

      So a very tiny, very massive, and very fast projectile might well have an exit wound of similar size to the entry wound. In which case the soft tissues of the body might just fill in and you'd never actually know that a pollen grain hole had been made through your body.
      • In fact, IIRC exit wounds are larger primarily because of fragementation of the bullet and fragments of bones that get carried out with it. Entry wounds of course just reflect the cross-section of the bullet.

        I'm sure you have heard the expression "Hollow Point" in regards to ammunition rounds. The way that most ammo works is it mushrooms as it makes contact. Having a hollow point round means it mushrooms larger, and you also have rifling (which causes the bullet to spin) in some cases. This is the primary factor in exit wound sizes. The amount of tissue damage that is done is directly associated with the compression (force of the bullet, hydrostatic shock is what it is called, IIRC) of the bullet moving through, and the current size of the round (remember, after it makes contact it expands.)

        Most bullets do not fragment, unless they are designed to do so. I knew someone who had rifle rounds that had tips that were designed to break into eighths after contact with a hollow point center. The reason why I wouldn't worry about a pollen-size object travelling 900Kmph is because it's entrance and exit wounds would be nearly identical, because it's A) Going very fast, B) Very dense and C) theoretical :) I would worry about compression shock though, which would result in having a lot of bones break and lungs collapse and what not. Very mysterious death, I would say.
      • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @07:07AM (#3509320)
        The problem with your estimate of the damage caused by a strangelet to a human being is that it is based on theories that only apply to projectiles made of normal matter. Strangelets are both extremely dense, and charged. To a strangelet, a human being would present a target as insubstantial as the foam in you bathtub is to you. However, any charged particles (electrons or protons) orbiting the strangelet would be stripped off, which would result in a huge potential difference between the strangelet and most of your body. In other words, you'll get electrocuted, and your body will be ripped apart by the rapidly changing electric and magnetic fields.
  • Dark matter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Man of E ( 531031 ) <i.have@no.email.com> on Sunday May 12, 2002 @11:16PM (#3508439)
    So, each of these strangelets weighs tons, and at least two of them hit our tiny little speck of a planet within one year. That means there must be quite a lot of mass contained in these -- could they be possible dark matter candidates?
    • Re:Dark matter? (Score:3, Informative)

      by ndevice ( 304743 )
      the telegraph article seems to think so:

      ---

      Scientists say that the discovery of strangelets would be a significant breakthrough, solving several long-standing mysteries. These include the nature of "dark matter", which, astronomers say, makes up more than 90 per cent of our galaxy. With their high density and stability, strangelets may account for much of this invisible matter.

      • if 90 of the universe's mass consists of super dense high speed particles, than this universe is really much more dangerous than we thought.

        what if a cloud of those passes our solar system. It will be like some one shot up the earth with a thompson gun.
  • by Slurpee ( 4012 )
    The scientists looked through "millions" of records of earthquakes, and find two examples where a disturbance occurs kinda on the other side of the world, approx 20 seconds later.

    And from this they are able to determine the speed, size and effects of the particles.

    The lack of specific data disturbs me, as does the jumps in logic.

    Does anyone have links to anything with more specifics?
  • get hit by strangelet on the head.

    Now if a nuclear warhead gets hit by a strangelet, well then its the unluckiet way to die for some unlucky city, or state.

    • I don't think nuclear weapons go off just by being hit, even if you hit them really hard.
      • If it was in True Lies then it must be true? I thought that a nuclear weapon was two halves of a suitably-processed radioactive material that was rammed together by conventional explosive -- giving it the mass and energy it needs for a runaway reaction. (Hence the term "critical mass".) Surely a stranglet would contain enough energy to at least set off the conventional explosive if not the nuclear material directly.
        • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <robert.merkel@be ... a.org minus city> on Monday May 13, 2002 @01:37AM (#3508816) Homepage

          Only the "gun" uranium fission design works like that, and they are the simplest, most primitive form of nuclear weapon. None of the known nuclear powers uses these any more (the Hiroshima bomb worked like this, but not Nagasaki, and the only other use since was allegedly in South Africa's covert nuclear program because all they were interested in was a proof-of-concept). Implosion designs (the basis for later fission weapons and fusion-boosted designs) rely on multiple chunks of uranium and plutonium to be forced together by precisely-shaped bits of chemical explosive into a superdense, supercritical mass. If they don't go off in precisely the designed pattern, they don't explode.

          Therefore, I'd expect the bomb to be turned into molten slag rather than explode.

          IANA Nuclear Physicist, so I could be horribly wrong :)

          • You are mostly right - The first pakistani nuclear weapon was a 'gun' type. The key difference between the two is that the implosion bomb is more 'efficent.' It is also extremely hard to design and build.

            One of the key problems is getting all the chemical explosives to detonate at precisely the right time. I'm talking within nanoseconds of each other, otherwise you get partial yield. Furthermore, you need to 'shape' the explosives into 'lenses' to focus the detonation wave. Once you do that you MUST insure that the entire thing will collapse as a perfect sphere. Any deviation and you won't get a full yield explosion. One of the critical secrets that Klas Fuchs passed on to the russians was the lense design of the explosives - invented by a Army Seargeant (sp?) whose name escapes me and probably the hardest part of the whole bomb design. Finally, you need a small 'starter' source of nuetrons at the center of the bomb to give off enough nuetrons to cause an explosion at precisely the right time. The whole bomb is constructed like an onion, with the Explosive lenses on the outside, Natural uranium tamper in the next layer, pu239 core, and an 'initator' at the very center.

            The 'gun' type of Nuke weapon (little boy) consists of a Cordite explosive at one end followed by a U235 'bullet'. At the end of the cylinder are u235 target rings embeded in a steel tamper. A velocity of 3,000 Feet per second is needed (at least for little boy). When the bullet hits the rings.. bam.

            All the above is taken from Richard Rhode's The Making of the Atomic Bomb (pulitzer prize winner). Very interesting - I would recomend reading it if you want to learn more.
        • Somewhat correct... but the explosives must -perfectly- slam the subcritical masses together. That's why making a nuke is still hugely expensive.
      • I'd say they definitely would (at least the trigger nuke) if hit by something that small and dense, travelling that fast. After all it's smashing a bunch of heavy stuff together really hard that creates the inital fission reaction in the first place.
    • It depends on how it hits... but really, with it's mass, and speed..... If it hit any fissionable material... it would be bad... very bad.... It may not be as bad as the full effect of a nuke going off, but lets say 1 ton, in at the size of a pinhead... hitting an unstable decaying nuclear material. I wonder what has happened when one of these things has hit fissionable material underground...

      Maybe this is something for all those supercomputers my tax dollars go to.
  • "Strangelets were formed in the Big Bang. They are predicted to have many unusual properties, including a density about 10 trillion (10 million million) times greater than lead. Just a single pollen-sized fragment is believed to weigh several tons."

    Or approx. the same density as Cowboy Neal, although I'd bet he can't move nearly as fast as these little suckers do.

  • another theory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Romancer ( 19668 )

    Couldn't these earthquakes be a result from internal shifting within the Earths core? If a small inner-earth bubble/rupture/explosion/quake/etc occured and was slightly off center then the two resulting earthquakes would be a result of this internal verifiable cause. One directly following another. Rather than a mysterious super dense non detectable string of big-bang aftermath.
    As they are looking at the effect only, without other data (as far as I saw) this explination fits as well as theirs and doesn't involve unverifiable cosmic strings.
  • by Perdo ( 151843 ) on Sunday May 12, 2002 @11:55PM (#3508581) Homepage Journal
    Tell the military they can weaponize this. See how long it takes them to allocate the funds to restart the superconducting supercollider. Just fire a negatively charged strangelet at the chinese and watch the entire country dissapear... sure, the entire planet would be destroyed too, but that was the case with nuclear weapons, and it never stopped their deployment.
  • what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RayBender ( 525745 )
    Let me get this straight - these guys combed through a database of ??? earthquakes and found a whopping two instances where two earthquakes hapened within a few seconds of each other on nearly-opposite sides of the world. Given how frequent these small earthquakes are I'm surprised they only found two - just from random chance.

    And they use this rather sketchy data to make claims about a very extraordinary discovery... an until now completely unknown form of matter.

    This isn't the first time I wish a bit more critical thought had been applied by the journalist. Or the reviewer for that matter.

    • They weren't earthquakes -- they were explosions that can be picked up by earthquake monitoring equipment.
    • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tconnors ( 91126 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @01:21AM (#3508782) Homepage Journal
      RTFP:

      http://xxx.adelaide.edu.au/abs/astro-ph/?0205089

      What, you trust everything the popular media says? You don't watch to CNN, do you?
    • As far as the antarctica bit, there is a very sensitive seismograph at the south pole. Two reasons: very sparsely populated area (fewer false readings) and it probably makes it easier to triangulate where seismic events happen since it's far away from the rest of the seismographs.

  • First of all, some basic particle physics:
    There are 6 kinds of quarks (in increasing mass):
    up, down, strage, charm, bottom (beauty), and top (truth).
    The last of which was experimentally verified only recently.

    All matter is made up of combinations of quarks, usually either in pairs (mesons), or trios (baryons).
    For example, protons are made up of two ups and one down; neutrons are made up of one up and two downs.

    Strange quarks are named such because the particles that contain them are produced fast and decay slow (ie., they have very long lifetimes), which is very odd considering that they are much more massive (heavier things tend to decay faster).

    Strangelets now, are an odd beast. They usually contain more than 2 or 3 quarks, and can contain quarks other than strange quarks.
    One variety (the more common one) contains a large mixture of up and some down quarks along with the strange, and has a net positive charge.
    These are quite safe as they will bond with a pair of electrons and act like an unusually heavy helium isotope.
    One that is mostly strange will have a net negative charge, and (I don't quite understand the process) gobble up all the positively charged atomic nuclei that it encounters.

    As a side note, strangelets are supposed to only occur in conditions of high pressure and (relatively) low temperature, like inside of a neutron star.
    • by stevelinton ( 4044 ) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Monday May 13, 2002 @03:05AM (#3508981) Homepage
      To explain a bit more, a system is only stable, if it can't get to a lower energy state without breaking some rule. Since one kind of quark can turn into another pretty freely, this favours systems made up to the lowest energy quarks, namely up. However, two things combine to make the proton stable (uud) rather than the particle with three up quarks, whose name I can't recall:

      One is ordinary electrostatics. up quarks have positive charge (2/3 of a unit, as it happens), down quarks negative (-1/3) so cramming three u quarks together involves overcoming more electrostatic repulsion that forming a proton.

      The other is a litle subtler. Many of you will be familiar with the idea of "shells" of electrons inside an atom, representing groups of possible energy levels for an electron, each able to hold just one electron. Something similar goes on in any compact collection of quarks: isolated baryon, atomic nucleus, strangelet or neutron star core. Each energy level can be occupied by at most one quark <emph>of each flavour</emph>. This favours structures with reasonably equal balances between the types of quarks. So a proton, uud with the us in the two lowest energy states and the d in the lowest state, ends up with lower total energy than uuu, which would have to use three enegry states.

      OK. Now what happens when we try and compute the stable options for clusters of quarks.

      With small numbers of quarks, we have to strike a balance between the fact that u are lighter and the goal of balancing u & d to keep the energy levels low and the electrostatic problems to a minimum. Solutions to this make up all the stable atomic nuclei from 1H (uud) to lead nuclei with 250--300 quarks of each type.

      Somewhat larger stable clusters do not form, the electrostatic repulsion and the high energy states into which the quarks would be forced mean that they can lose energy by splitting into two smaller clusters, so they do, hence nuclear fission.

      When cluster sizes get very large, then gravity starts to play a role. Solar mass sized clusters of u and d quarks (2 downs to 1 up, so the whole thing is neutral) can be stablized, despite the energy cost of all the down quarks, by the mutual gravitational attraction. The result is a neutron star. The fact that quarks are in different spatial locations also helps with the energy level problem.

      It is suggested that collections of quarks intermediate in mass between nuclei and neutron stars may be stable, if they contain a significant portion of strange quarks. Although basically heavier and so more energetic than u and d quarks, they would be free to occupy the lowest energy levels. Estimates of how massive these clusters would need to be to be stable vary wildly. One the one hand people are looking for extra-compact neutron-star like objects on the other hand for "stranglets" a few microns across and massing tons.
  • as they tore through Earth at up to 900,000 mph

    Formed in the Big Bang and inside extremely dense stars,

    Any ideas why anything moving that fast, formed in the big bang would still be important?

    Unless the universe is closed, wouldn't they be further out than anything less crazy?

  • Horseshit. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @12:23AM (#3508668) Homepage


    A pollen-sized grain of anything weighing over a ton and travelling at 900,000 miles an hour would leave a crater so large that it could fit the entire quantity of bullshit pseudo-science that comes out of Southern Methodist University.

    Amazing.

    Cheers,
  • out of curiosity... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 7-Vodka ( 195504 )
    What would happen if one of those hit someone in the head?
    • Imagine a hole through your head that is wide as a grain of pollen. So small, but would still do a lot of damage for sure. There might be an exit wound the size of a pin head, at the largest.

      This would be fatal, as the brain would probably just seize until you are dead.
    • its an interesting question.

      It depends how much energy those things will release inside your body. That basicly depends how much you slow it down.

      If you slow it down even a litlle bit ud probably evaporate right then and there.

      But maybe beceuse it is so damn small and fast and humans are nice and soft, it will just cut trough you without changing its speed at all and then you may get lucky. (of course you wil have to worry about the seismic event when it hits the ground).

      As a way of comparison imagine cutting a tomato with a fast swing of a supper sharp japanese sword - the tomato wont be damaged much (aside from being cut in half) now if you try that with a dull knofe you will have one bruised up tomato.

      But this is a very interesting question and i dont think the answer is trivial.


  • Yet another reason for your insurance company to jack up your rates.
  • by oldzoot ( 60984 ) <morton.james@comcast . n et> on Monday May 13, 2002 @01:31AM (#3508806)
    I wonder what kind of neat science tricks one can do with managable amounts of extreme density matter. The strangelets are one example, the problem of interacting with them has more to do with their speed than with their mass. If we could find a way to slow one down it could be very interesting to study. Perhaps we could magnetically contain it to prevent contamination with "regular" matter. The interesting thing would be to study the interaction of time and gravity. We have lots of things in the world which weigh many tens, hundreds or thousands of tons, however becauseof their more normal density we can not get close enough to the center of their mass to really study localized gravitational effects. With extreme density matter, we should be able to measure intersting things getting much closer to the center of gravity of a significant mass. Matter of this type might make an interesting component of a ground based anti-balistic missile system. The bullet would be microscopically small, but would have incredible mass and could hold significant kinetic energy, suitable for the destruction of a warhead. The energy source for the prime mover could be any typical huge ground based power plant. Because of the microscopic size of the projectile, air resistance would be insignificant relative to the kinetic energy.

    Zoot
    • Matter of this type might make an interesting component of a ground based anti-balistic missile system. The bullet

      would be microscopically small, but would have incredible mass and could hold significant kinetic energy, suitable for the
      destruction of a warhead. The energy source for the prime mover could be any typical huge ground based power plant.
      Because of the microscopic size of the projectile, air resistance would be insignificant relative to the kinetic energy.


      Unfortunately, the target would offer little more resistance than the intervening air. You would drill a micron-sized hole right through the target warhead, depositing almost none of the strangelet's KE in the process. Like trying to shoot down a smoke-cloud with a rifle.
  • How did they know at what angle the stranglets hit the earth at?

    Ripping through the earth at what angle makes a large difference. Imagine 2 stranglets hit NY NY at the same time. One is comming from a north west direction and the other is comming from south east. The one comming from north west will exit the earth thousands of miles from where the south east one will...

    This tells me that the scietists just looked for any seismic activity that resembled the first (entry) hit. Seismic measurment tools are not all that precise, especially equipment 10 years ago (I had a 486 10 years ago just to give you an idea) and the fact that they are looking for the impact of a particle that is 1/10 of a hair in size. There "proof" relys on the fact that in the past ten years there were two seismic activitys on different parts of the planet that were similar to eachother. Not much proof if you ask me....

  • by Observer ( 91365 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @02:30AM (#3508909)
    <Sinatra>
    Strangelets in the night....
    </Sinatra>

    It's OK, I was just leaving anyway.

  • Anyone with the density handy want to cobble up the Schwarzchild radius of one of these puppies and see if it fits inside?

    In case you need it,

    r = 2 G m/c^2.

    c = 2.998e+08 m/s
    G = 6.672e-11 N m^2/kg^2

    --Blair
  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @05:11AM (#3509156)
    The team analysed more than a million earthquake records for signs of strangelets hitting Earth, reports The Sunday Telegraph.

    Oooh, I'm sure the authors of the scientific paper had a tough bunch of high-energy-particle physicists at The Sunday Telegraph reviewing their submitted paper :-)

    I mean, it's nice to see something having to do with physics make the Sunday Paper (at least I'm not listening to the Joe Jackson [amazon.com] song that disparages that media) but shouldn't we have slightly higher standards for something to make the Slashdot front page?

  • in other words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shren ( 134692 ) on Monday May 13, 2002 @10:55AM (#3510396) Homepage Journal

    According to Prof Herrin, the two events agree with predictions for strangelet impacts, which are expected to occur about once a year. He added, however, that finding more would be difficult, as seismic databases now automatically remove all signals not linked to earthquakes. He said: "To find more events we need to get at the data before that happens."

    In other words, various governmental sources have gotten tired of seismologists finding underground nuclear testing and told them to quit revealing the secrets. And they did.

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