New Ways to Test Gravity

Sep 09, 2016

IMG_20160818_000751Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Tigran Kalaydzhyan is making a name for himself in the field of particle physics. In a series of papers published in 2015-2016, Dr. Kalaydzhyan proposes new methods for gravity tests that could help unlock new information about antimatter and cosmic rays.  

Although antimatter was discovered 80 years ago, many of its behaviors and properties remain mysterious. We still do not know, for example, if it is attracted or repelled by the Earth. The same holds true for relativistic particles, such as those in cosmic rays or particle accelerators like the Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider. Because gravity exerts a relatively weak force on these particles, it is difficult to directly measure its effects. If a change in a particle’s behavior is detected, how can it be determined if this is due to gravity or some other, stronger force? Dr. Kalaydzhyan has found a new way for researchers to isolate the effects of gravity on relativistic particles. He analyzed data from experiments run on modern particle accelerators, looking for patterns that followed changes in the total gravitational field of the Earth and other celestial bodies as the Earth moves closer to and further away from the sun during its orbit. He found a way, for the first time, to rule out gravitational repulsion or “antigravity” in the behavior of relativistic particles and antiparticles. With the processes Dr. Kalaydzhyan developed, scientists will be able to understand the behavior of these particles much more clearly.

Dr. Kalaydzhyan will soon begin working for NASA, testing the laws of gravity in experiments run on atomic clocks in space and analyzing spacecraft data on gravitational waves.

Open-access versions of the papers, including a paper published last April in Physical Review Letters, are available here


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