The Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), after one delay and two scrubbed attempts to launch, lifted off of Space Launch Complex 41 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 4:05am this morning, right at the opening of its launch window. The two spacecraft, RBSP-A and RBSP-B, were stacked one on top of another, in the nose cone faring of an Atlas V rocket with a Centaur second stage booster to lift the two spacecraft into their final orbits.
It is RBSP’s mission to explore the trapped radiation belts, also known as the Van Allen Belts named after James Van Allen, an early pioneer in space science and exploration from the University of Iowa. Dr. Van Allen first predicted the existence of bands of trapped solar wind particles within Earth’s magnetosphere and his prediction was verified with our first mission to space, Explorer 1, for which Dr. Van Allen was the Principle Investigator.
A meeting at Cern, the world’s largest physics lab, has addressed results that suggest subatomic particles have gone faster than the speed of light.
This could be big! News from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research have created what seem to be neutrinos traveling faster than light. Its too early to get too excited, but if it turns out to be right, it will shake up one of the pillars of modern physics, Einstein’s relativity! It is likely to be some kind of unaccounted for process or systematic error in the experiment, but it may not be. A good scientist will remain skeptical until all other possible explanations are ruled out.
If these measurements turn out to be right, and if it turns out that some physics has to be rebuilt from the foundation, it will be an exciting time for young physicists. Any time there has to be a reconstruction at the foundations of physics is a fun time to be working physicist. Sting Theory has consumed many theoretical physics careers in the last couple decades, but this would give new minds something of major importance to work on…and likely win some Nobel Prizes in the effort. Who wants to be the next Einstein, Bohr or Heisenberg? Any takers? Go out and earn those PhD.s in physics and go get it!