back to article We spent billions building atom smashers – and now boffins think nature's doing the same thing for free?

The cores of massive binary neutron stars are crushed under such immense gravitational pressures, the particles inside split apart to create a hot soup of quark matter, according to a study published in Nature Astronomy this month. Quarks and gluons – subatomic particles nestled inside hadrons such as neutrons and protons – …

  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Fascinating stuff

    First dark matter, now quark matter. I look forward to further work trying to confirm this theory. Even if the quark matter turns out not to exist, a form of matter in which the speed of sound is close to the speed of light is mind-blowing in its own right

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Fascinating stuff

      It does beg the question of whether it might even be possible for the speed of sound to be faster than the speed of light.

      I know - Einstein et al reckon that nothing could ever be faster, but that was without closely studying this sort of stuff.

      1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        Re: whether it might even be possible

        The phrase "speed of light" is often used in a way that is context dependent. Here, it means an intrinsic property of the spacetime, which cannot be exceeded, since that would make no sense whatsoever. Since light in vacuum travels at this maximum speed, the two are often conflated. Generally, unless you are doing optics, "speed of light" always means this maximum.

        In other contexts, it might mean that speed that electromagnetic signals (light) happen to be travelling in a particular medium (in glass, e.g., light travels more slowly than the spacetime-maximum "speed of light"). If you slow the propagation of light down enough, by coupling it strongly to something (e.g. a cleverly prepared gas of atoms matched closely to the frequency of your light), then you could possibly make the speed of those light signals in your medium slower than the speed of sound in that medium. Pedants may then annoy you by noting that with the (strong) light-matter coupling required for this, your signals are no longer just electromagnetic, and as such are not longer really just "light".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Magic ratio

          1) Do you imagine that mechanism of motion of matter and of light are different? Why? Lets assert that the motion is the same mechanism since you can convert matter to light and light to matter, they move the same way.

          2) You can detect the position of matter and see its in motion. e.g. where is the electron? measure it twice and its moved between the two times.

          3) So everything is in motion, including matter.

          4) But stationary matter does not move overall, relative to a nearby stationary reference object, so the motion of matter results in no net movement over time. It just traces out the scale and shape of the object. In this case the electron.

          5) So the scale/size of the electron that it traces out, depends on the mechanism of motion that also moves light.

          6) And if the scale of matter was 2x larger, then the motion of light would move 2x as much. Because the mechanism of both motions is the same, see 1.

          7) And if the scale was 2x larger in one axis, then the motion of light in that axis would be 2x larger.

          8) So the apparent evenness of space in all directions is an illusion. It can be different and we would not measure any difference.

          In other words, the speed of light is just a fixed arbitrary ratio. You measure it relative to matter, and matter can change size and the speed of light would change with it.

          We chose a value for second (atomic clocks measure oscillations in a chosen nucleus) and so we set the value of that ratio when we chose that unit of time.

          @"Pedants may then annoy you by noting that with the (strong) light-matter coupling required for this, your signals are no longer just electromagnetic, and as such are not longer really just "light"."

          It is light and its always electromagnetic. Even when passing through a medium, even when that medium is the space between planets. Your magic lighty-matter thing needed to differentiate the light-through-matter case does not exist. Anymore than a light-planet motion exists that bends light with a different mechanism.

          A few other things:

          Your detector is made of matter and is also in motion. You never see the real shape of an electron you only measure the difference between the electron and the detector. The shape and size you imagine these particles are, is the difference between your detector and the particle.

          This is also true of light (I'm not just talking about red shift, a zero hertz EM wave would have the same motion as the matter you detect it with, its true of all the components of its motion, its polarization, and many more complex oscillations, they are all the difference between the motion in the detector and the motion in the light).

          Two atomic clocks in motion over the same field in the same way oscillate at the same rate. i.e. they are in *resonance*.

          You have never really made an electric field. You only ever make an *oscillating* one, complete with the motion of the electron. Its has the universe oscillating resonance pattern. Since the electron is in motion, then the field it created is also oscillating with that motion.

          Hence electric_oscillating force propagates per-oscillation the same as light motion is per-oscillation of that field. This is why forces appear to propagate at the speed of light.

          There are no neutral particles, only sum(charged) = 0 particles. Everything is moving in the field. There is no strong force, its electric_h0, its the one and only force.

          The actual *underlying* electric force propagates infinitely fast, it must, because its the only way to get the that resonance. All paths through space must take zero time, so that all paths meet together.

          Space is not even. You just perceive it that way. The speed of light is not even, you only perceive it that way if you're in the same field as its traveling over. This is because you're made of matter and the scale of of your matter matter and scale of speed of light is directly related.

          How to prove it.

          Well, I've asked before for you to go look. Space will not be even. An anomaly in the Universe to the North will be mirrored with an opposing anomaly to the South. But that's impossible unless we are in the center of the Universe! To appear as if the anomaly is built around us, requires be at the center of everything!

          We are not in the center, such a thing is ridiculously improbable. No, it's a observation effect caused by our motion over the Universe field. (This mechanism of motion where everything is motion over a oscillating resonant field). Event at universe level our motion is an oscillation over the universe resonant electric field.

          aka the peasoup model, the simulation of matter as electric oscillations that may or may not still exist when Corona Virus restrictions are lifted and I can get back to my office and see if my kit has been nicked or not!

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Re: Magic ratio

            That is one massive pile of gluon.

          2. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Magic ratio

            When articles like this are published the Electric Universe nutters always grab the opportunity to demonstrate their inability to express themselves clearly in simple English.

        2. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: whether it might even be possible

          The speed of dark is obviously faster than the speed of light; it's always there first.

        3. Quando

          Re: whether it might even be possible

          Cherenkov Radiation - - is what you get when a particle ends up travelling faster than the local speed of light in material that is making that lower than c. Used in neutrino detectors.

      2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating stuff

        "It does beg the question of whether it might even be possible for the speed of sound to be faster than the speed of light.

        In order for a pressure wave to pass through a medium, the particles have to react to each other. That reaction---the force that causes them to move---is typically communicated through light (photons) so particles can't react to each other faster than photons can shuffle between them.

        Light isn't the only option. But all massless bosons (e.g. gluons) are limited to the speed of light. And massive particles always travel slower than massless ones. So particles can't react faster to each other than light can move between them. And if they can't react faster than light, then a sound wave can't propagate faster than light.

        There are probably issues close to the Planck scale. But I'm not sure they apply here.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating stuff

        Mass-energy equivalence (e=mc2) precludes it. Anything with mass effectively gets heavier and heavier the faster it moves and at the speed of light, it would be infinitely massive.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating stuff

          No, it doesn't effectively get heavier. You're confusing what happens in the object's reference frame with what appears to happen in your reference frame.

      4. jake Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating stuff

        The only people who think that sound can't exceed the speed of light have never observed gossip moving through a village.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    You already get extremely odd effects due to pressure and gravity in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn. But in a neutron star I'd be surprised if you could really tell the difference between "sound" and anything else. Once gravity is sufficiently strong to overcome nuclear forces, comparisons really don't make a lot of sense and it's all just maths.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      A mechanical pressure wave nearly always makes sense and is a useful physical property of a medium.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I'm struggling to see the use, for us, in a neutron star.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          There is a whole field devoted to understanding the sound of stars - astroseismology. There's even a wiki page covering it for neutron stars.

          If you're being pedantic, and depending on the field, you might restrict sound waves to longitudinal modes of pressure waves. But they'll be in any medium. And the speed of sound is going to be important to analysing these and/or allow you to deduce important information about the medium and it's internal structure.

        2. Detective Emil
  3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    The universe is weird, we want a refund

    Sorry, your two year extended warranty ran out a while back.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The universe is weird, we want a refund

      No way! The gravity was so intense it distorted space-time to the point only six months passed where I was. Imagine the wrangling such a counterpoint would cause...

      1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        Re: The universe is weird, we want a refund

        It's unlikely to be any consolation, but knowing something of how general relativity works can only make things even weirder; e.g.

        (I particularly recommend Fig. 3.1 in the latter :-))

        1. Allan George Dyer

          Re: The universe is weird, we want a refund

          Fig. 3.1 is entertaining, but Fig. 3.2 tells you how to do it!

          It's all fun and games until Godzilla arrives.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The universe is weird, we want a refund

            If you read down to page 88 you'll see the results.

            Favorite quote: "The idea is that we can cozy up to naked singularities without fear of being infected by the ghastly pathologies of naked singularities since GTR implies that, under reasonable conditions, Nature exercises modesty and presents us only with singularities that have been clothed in some appropriate sense." Thank Gawd/ess for that, I'll sleep better now.

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: The universe is weird, we want a refund

      Back when HP still made instruments they released a new model of atomic clock, guaranteed to lose or gain no more than one second in 234,000 years.

      The guarantee lasted five years...

  4. Scott Broukell

    Atom Smasher

    Just keep banging those rocks together guys! (with thanks to one D.Adams)

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