A Major Einstein Theory Was Just Proven Right, 106 Years Later

Zeedox

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The paper is just two pages long, and it outlines how special relativity might explain a strange aspect of radioactive decay.
As Marie Curie most famously demonstrated, some materials such as radium salts can emit particles with much more energy than is possible from simple chemistry.
Einstein’s little paper speculated that the excess energy might be balanced by a loss of mass of the nuclear particles. This idea eventually led to Einstein’s most famous equation, E = mc2.

One consequence of this relation is that, under the right circumstances, objects should be able to produce energy via a loss of mass. We now know this is exactly what happens in radioactive decay. The effect is also how stars create energy in their cores via nuclear fusion.

If you can convert matter entirely into energy, you should be able to do the reverse. It’s known as the Breit–Wheeler process and involves colliding two photons to create an electron-positron pair. While we have used light to create matter several times, converting two photons directly into the matter is very difficult.

But a recent experiment shows it can be done.

The team used data from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and looked at more than 6,000 events that created electron-positron pairs. They didn’t simply beam two lasers at each other but instead used high-energy particle collisions to create intense bursts of photons.

In some cases, these photons collided to create an electron-positron pair. From the data, they could show when a pair was created directly from light.

Matter from light!
 

Gomez Adams

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Interesting.

But it occurs to me: If that really holds water, then with the sheer amount of light in the universe how is it possible for it to end? One would think that as it decays it creates at least as much matter as it loses, right?

Mind boggling stuff.
 

Gomez Adams

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dark matter....
That thought had occurred to me, but I didn't want to say it for fear of looking like an idiot.

Another thought that occurred to me was Hawking's discovery of radiation actually escaping black holes. How would that tie in to the creation of matter? Is there a great deal more going on there than we're giving credit for?
 

Zeedox

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That thought had occurred to me, but I didn't want to say it for fear of looking like an idiot.

Another thought that occurred to me was Hawking's discovery of radiation actually escaping black holes. How would that tie in to the creation of matter? Is there a great deal more going on there than we're giving credit for?

It's why Einstein was looking for a unified theory to explain it all.
 
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