YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=rOztrDmFFWM
Previous: How Weed Works: THC
Next: Mind-controlling Parasites!

Categories

Statistics

View count:173,442
Likes:3,409
Dislikes:26
Comments:902
Duration:02:58
Uploaded:2012-04-18
Last sync:2018-04-29 21:40
Hank reports on some new discoveries: one which points towards the existence of dark matter with the "majorana particle" and another, which points towards the existence of life on Mars. Exciting stuff!

Like SciShow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scishow
Follow SciShow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scishow

Sources:
http://www.nature.com/news/a-solid-case-for-majorana-fermions-1.10174
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2012/04/11/science.1222360.abstract
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/04/majorana-fermions-found.html?ref=em
http://ijass.org/PublishedPaper/year_abstract.asp?idx=132
http://ijass.org/On_line/admin/files/2)(014-026)11-030.pdf
Image:
http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA01522 {Public Domain]
We've been seeing a lot of comments and questions about dark matter, that matter that makes up 23% of the stuff in the universe, but we can't see it and have no idea what it is. Well, this week, we got a big step closer to understanding that stuff better with the discovery of new particles, called majorana fermions.

These particles, first theorized by Italian physicist and kind of crazy dude Ettore Majorana, who in the 1930s proposed that if antimatter exists--that is, if for every particle there is a mirror opposite with the opposite charge--then there must also be a particle that is its own anti-particle.

I don't know if this concept totally blew his mind or what, but soon after he proposed it, Majorana mysteriously disappeared after boarding a boat for Sicily, never to be seen again. Seriously.

Now fast forward to this week, when Dutch physicists say that they may have solved Majorana's conundrum by finally detecting traces of this strange particle. I'm gonna tell you how they did this; don't worry if you don't understand. The team connected an ultra-thin wire to a superconductor, ran an electric current through it, and then exposed it to a magnetic field.

What they found weren't bits of matter, but rather two groups of electrons that began acting the same way, and the same time as Majorana predicted. Trust me, it's a big deal.

Since these particles exist on the brink of matter and antimatter, some physicists think that they could be the key ingredient of dark matter. Which, if true, would change everything.

Majorana! We finally have news for you, come home!

New research, led by the former director of the space shuttle program Joseph Miller suggests that the Viking landers may in fact have found life on Mars after all. The study looked at data from all four of the tests that the landers performed on the Martian soil in 1976. At the time, only one of them came back positive: nutrients with a radioactive signature were added to soil samples and some of those samples gave off gas with the same signature, suggesting that the nutrients had been metabolized.

But other tests looking for large amounts of organic molecules and signs of photosynthesis seemed to come back negative, so the conclusion was: no life on Mars. Aww.

The new study doesn't question how the experiments were done, but rather how the numbers were crunched. Using an approach called complexity analysis, experts compared all of the Viking data with similar experiments done on Earth soil, and sorted them by which were the most mathematically complex.

The data from the Viking nutrient experiment ended up grouping together with data from Earth soil experiments. Meaning that they were more complex than the data from the negative results. The team's thinking is that any biological system, even if it's massively different from one that we would find here on Earth, would still be much more complex than non-biological ones. So 36 years later, we may have figured out life on Mars, there is still a lot that Viking is teaching us.

Bad news is, we're never gonna really know until we go back. But what do you think? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below, and we'll see you next week.