So far, the year 2020 has been quite dramatic. This is not something any of us expected. But crisis brings new challenges which in turn create opportunities. We believe this crisis only makes us stronger by leveraging the opportunities it created. With this determination let us not worry too much and focus on our favourite subject, Physics. Here I’m going to tell you about what we might expect to happen in the field of physics in the next 10 years.
Before discussing the next 10 years, let us assess what we have witnessed in the last 10 years from 2010 – 2019. We find several breakthroughs that physicists long been hoped to achieve. In a span of 4 years we have seen, the discovery of Higgs boson (in 2012), spotting of the cosmic neutrino in ice cube detector (2013) and the gravitational waves (in 2016). Double quantum teleportation has also been observed in the same period. This is remarkable indeed!
In the next 10 years, we hope at least some of our long-standing mystery will be solved, which includes, detection of dark matter, signatures of physics beyond the standard model, proliferation of quantum computing and communication, wireless communication through LiFI system. And last but not the least it to the effective management of data generated by physics experiments through artificial intelligence and machine learning. All these topics are interesting and vital, but due to space constraint, I am going to focus only two of the topics mentioned above. The topics are: Wireless communication through LiFi system and dark matter detection. So without wasting any more time, let’s find out.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Wireless communication through LiFi system:
Data is playing a vital role in our daily life. It is so important that a new subject is developing around it, known as Big Data. In the coming years, we are expecting a sea change in the ways we are communicating with each other. I am talking about LiFi (Light Fidelity) system of wireless communication. In this method, the light wave is used to transfer data wirelessly. Thus a simple LED bulb can be used as a device to access the internet. Let us see how does it work: LED bulb is used to capture data in modulated form. Its frequency lies in the range of visible light. The LED bulb then transmits the data and received by the device, such as a smartphone. The receiving device contains a photosensitive detector which would demodulate the light and converts it into electronic data for ready use. (Image Credit @ PureLiFi)
It has various advantages over traditional WiFi. In terms of speed, LiFi can be up to 100 times faster than WiFi. Because of light frequencies are used for data transfer the interference is also much less and can be used where traditional WiFi system can not be used. For example, salty seawater or chemical plants where the use of radio-frequency can be dangerous. It is more secure as we can limit its range by physical barriers, such as walls. However, its most unfavourable feature is the coverage distance, which is roughly 10 meters. And for that reason, it is not a replacement technology for WiFi. But rather it is being considered as a companion technology.
Various companies are competing to harness its potential. Among them, pureLiFi is at the forefront. It is founded by Professor Harald Haas, who coined the term LiFi and considered to be the founder of this particular technology. Other companies which are working in this field to build LiFi products for daily use are: Signify, Oledcomm, VLNcomm, Velmenni, LumEfficient, General Electric, Panasonic, Wipro etc.
It is being predicted that the general public would be able to test LiFi technology in 2022.
Dark Matter Search:
The fate of our Universe depends on its matter-energy content. An important clue regarding the amount of matter energy present in the universe was unveiled by Hubble Space Telescope in 1998. It was found that the universe was expanding at a rate which is faster than what was thought it to be. That was puzzling as the known matter content of the universe could not explain such expansion rate. Intense research led to this realisation that our knowledge regarding the universe is very limited. Current estimates show that to explain the expansion rate we need, 68% Dark Energy, 27% Dark Matter and the rest, only 5% is the visible matter. This subtle balance of matter and energy is what required for the observed cosmic acceleration.
Dark energy can be said to be a property of empty space or vacuum. It generates a reclusive force that drives the acceleration of the expanding universe. Since it does not have a local gravity effect, it is hard to detect. But it does produce a global effect like acceleration on a cosmic scale.
Dark Matter, on the other hand, tries to slow down the expansion because of gravitational attraction. The name “dark” comes from the fact that it can not be seen through our naked eyes. This property leads to the understanding that the dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force. Our current understanding about it is much about what it is not rather than what it is.
Despite the challenges, several dozen experiments are methodically searching for signatures of the Dark Matter. In these experiments, they search for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS) or a (theoretical) particle called the axion, which is basically dark matter version of the light particle (photon). These searches can be broadly divided into two categories: Direct detection and indirect detection. For further information on these experiments please visit: https://www.interactions.org/hub/dark-matter-hub.
Although there is no strong evidence from direct dark matter search experiments, various indirect detection experiments have got encouraging result. That gives us hope that may be in the coming years we will be able to uncover the enigma of the dark matter. This hope is amplified by the promising result coming from the XENON experiment in June 2020. Though this result is yet to be peer-reviewed, scientists are eagerly waiting for the reviewers’ opinion. If found true, it would be considered as one of the first breakthrough results. However, this result is not statistically significant to be called as a discovery but will act as inspiration for future attempts.
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