2007-2008 Supercomputing Challenge New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge


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Challenge Team Interim Report

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    Team Number: 057

    School Name Kirtland Central High School

    Area of Science : Physics

    Project Title The Orbits of WIMPS and Anti-WIMPS


Initially, our team was going to do a project on monopoles. We began by asking the questions – what are monopoles and do they exist? Research was done on the internet and we discovered a project called MACRO (Monopole, Astrophysics, and Cosmic Ray Observatory) located in Italy. We searched for an advisor through the internet and came across Anders Sandberg. However, he felt that he “…didn’t fit the bill…” and that we should keep searching. So we did and we came across a page that seemed to match expertise criteria of a certain individual associated with MACRO. His named was Chris Walter. Chris took the time to read our abstract on the Supercomputing Challenge web site and e-mailed us with helpful information that we should consider while doing our supercomputing project. He suggested that we find an advisor whom we could meet with frequently and work on a project that that advisor is already doing (this way we learn what research is all about). At a meeting in Japan, Chris Walter spoke with a colleague of his, Todd Haines, who is working on a project called the Milagro. Through the help of Chris Walter, Todd Haines has now become our supercomputing advisor. He has explained through email a project that we can do.

Through Keplar’s law, as an object orbits another object (such as the earth around the sun), the mass of the central object (the sun) can be calculated by the measure of the orbit (the earth's orbit). There have been attempts to calculate the masses of galaxies through the orbit of stars that orbit the galaxy (this is called rotation curve). After the calculations, the answers were different than other measurements of the same galaxy. So, somehow, something in the galaxy wasn’t accounted for. There is an uncertainty of what it is. Some suggest that this extra matter may be black holes, comets, asteroids, brown dwarfs or leftovers from the big bang. As it was explained to us, if a type of massive particle from the big bang still remained today and collapsed along with normal matter (normal matter being matter that we can see) because of its size, then it must be something different because we can’t see it. This is what “dark matter” is, something we can’t see.

In 1928, English physicist P.A.M. Dirac predicted antimatter. Imagine that for every particle, there was an anti-particle of the opposite charge. If these anti-particles got together making anti-atoms and finally anti-matter, and collided with their counterpart matter, they would annihilate each other.

Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS) seem to fit the bill as a particle that makes up dark matter. It does not give off any light or form of radiation and their collisions with anti-WIMPS produce high-energy positrons which were detected by HEAT. HEAT was a balloon launched by NASA in 1994 that measured cosmic rays (electrons, neutrons, and positrons). It detected high amounts of positrons (more than expected) which are accounted for by the collisions of WIMPS with anti-WIMPS, creating positrons.

What all this means is that there is a good chance that WIMPS exists. Supposing that WIMPS do exist, and that they interact all around us, how would Keplar’s Law or other laws in physics be in effect if the WIMPS orbited the sun? Our Physics teacher, Mr. McLaughlin also suggested perhaps stimulating the WIMPS orbit around something smaller, such as a hydrogen atom with a computer.

The orbit of an anti-WIMP would be interesting because it follows the path of a helix which is a few light years in diameter. The path of this helix follows the magnetic flux lines between galaxies or other objects with mass (such as the sun). There are many things to take into consideration in our program which we will soon begin writing, such as the orbit of a WIMP, an anti-WIMP, and what happens after they collide. We also still need to continue our research, write our program and find out what data if any needs to be collected. We also hope to visit the Milagro site and learn from our advisor in person and on-site.

Team Members

Team Mail

Sponsoring Teachers

Project Advisor(s)

  • Todd Haines
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