23 June 2006

Here We Go Again...

It has finally been cemented, after months of discussion amongst ourselves. The topic for our SP2172 Exploring Science project has been finalised after much deliberation among ourselves: Orbits of Massive Particles Around a Kerr Black Hole. Okay, I made that title up, since the semester has yet to start, which means the module has yet to be allocated to us, which means we do not officially have a title for our project yet. But that title should capture the general idea of what we're doing.

So what we are dong is to use the equations of motions of particles around a Kerr black hole (which is simply a black hole that rotates) and throw them into a programme to generate the values of its positions at different times, then plot them out on a 3D diagram. We will be doing it for massive particles (i.e. particles with mass, like electrons, as opposed to particles without mass, like photons), building on an old SPS project that does the same but for photons. That's basically the whole idea.

The usual practice is that SP2172 will follow up on last semester's SP2171 Investigating Science project, which we did about cosmological inflation. Since SP2172 is more about experiments (including computer simulations) and discovering new ideas or data instead of SP2171's learning of the theory behind a certain topic, it made sense to have SP2172 on a similar topic as SP2171. The latter will provide the necessary theoretical knowledge for the group to embark on the experiments.

Unfortunately for us, it seems that inflation is such a cold topic in NUS that no professors were willing to take us in, so we had to change our topic. Moreover, there is little experiments we can do on inflation, since most simulations are either trivial, out of our expertise or already done. But to avoid re-learning the necessary theoretical knowledge, we stayed in the area of cosmology and astrophysics, since our prior knowledge of general relativity will not go to waste.

Eventually, we came up to Prof Edward Teo, who is rather well known in the astrophysics community. After a few exchanges of emails and meeting up with him, he proposed the topic and we found it suitable (probably because, in a way, we are somewhat desperate that we could find no professors to take us in).

And now with an aim, we can get ourselves started on our project. Which is a bit long overdue, since many other groups have already started theirs. Time to stock up my tea supplies!

No comments: