Catching the strange strangelets

17 September 2010

How about starting this school year with a new hobby: find the missing part of the Universe. We see only a fraction of all the 'stuff' in the cosmos, while the rest is lurking somewhere. A new ESA video shows how scientists are trying to do it.

The video tells a thrilling story about the quest for the missing Universe.

Around 600 scientists from all over the world, led by Samuel Ting, particle physicist and Nobel laureate, have built a huge scientific instrument called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer – AMS for short – to catch the cosmic rays and particles speeding by in space.

Those particles may reveal if there are even stranger particles known as neutralinos and strangelets, so far only predicted by theory. If we find them, they could give us a hint where the missing mass and energy of the Universe are hiding. As a byproduct, they can show us new worlds made of antimatter.

AMS will be delivered to the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle STS-134 mission, riding along with ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori.

To find out what this all is about, watch the video on ESA’s website.

A complete educational package

The 'Searching for the Missing Universe' video is part of a series of short video lessons called 'Space-in-Bytes' for upper secondary school students and their teachers.

The series presents bite-sized scientific chunks, offering a starting point for further individual or classroom investigation.

The video is accompanied by lesson notes that explain some of the scientific concepts shown. The notes provide teachers and their students with more information on the topics covered in the video, and suggest class exercises.

'Searching for the Missing Universe' and the previous Space-in-Bytes videos, are available for download in 13 languages of the ESA Member States.

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