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A $2 billion particle detector stars in fresh Disney Plus docuseries ‘Amongst the Stars’: Q&A with valuable investigator Sam Ting


With World Set Week in pudgy swing all the way in which through the globe, Disney Plus is taking center stage with its arresting fresh docuseries “Amongst the Stars” lighting the fuse on all six episodes starting up this day (Oct. 6).

Filmed over the route of two years shapely sooner than the pandemic erupted, this at the serve of-the-curtain hotfoot begins out following primitive NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy as he slips on his spacesuit for a third and closing flight to the International Set Set (ISS) to are trying a courageous repair on a $2 billion a part of tools called an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). As the rescue operation goes a bit sideways, this fascinating series transforms into a highlight on the total NASA floor team and their dedication to the mission dreams.

Overseeing most of the integral aspects of the AMS cooling unit replace is MIT physicist Sam Ting, a Nobel Prize-worthwhile physicist whose visionary mission seeks to unlock the mysteries of the universe by recording subatomic particles called charged cosmic rays, which is in a space to fabricate proof of dark topic — mysterious, invisible stuff that makes up about 80% of the topic within the universe. In “Amongst The Stars,” paying consideration to him take sitting by a pond as a boy along with his grandmother, staring up at the heavens to wonder what’s available within the market, is to piece in his unbridled passion.

“It’s miles a extraordinarily entire detector with seven ingredients that measure the price, the mass, the rate” of these subatomic particles, Ting, the AMS valuable investigator, instructed Set.com. “The entirety is measured. There are a entire of 650 microprocessors and 300,000 channels. In ten years, we now own measured 180 billion charged cosmic rays.”

Connected: Antimatter-hunting AMS experiment in dwelling (pictures)

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan works on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer during a spacewalk at the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan works on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer at some stage in a spacewalk at the International Set Set. (Image credit: NASA)

His 7.5-ton dwelling magnet was as soon as before all the pieces set build in on the ISS in 2011 as the first precision particle physics detector working in dwelling. Led by MIT, the endeavor is an global effort relying on the assist of 44 diversified establishments, along with the European Group for Nuclear Review (CERN) and subsidized by NASA and the Department of Energy.

Set.com spoke with Ting on the eve of the series’ premiere to learn extra about his particle detecting machine, how he adopted his curiosity as a profession path, and what advice he’d provide aspiring scientists hoping to unlock secrets and tactics of the cosmos.

Set.com: What was as soon as the filming route of savor for you on “Amongst the Stars?”

Sam Ting: The cameras were now not following me extra often than now not. I used to be as soon as principally watching from the retain a watch on room in Geneva, Switzerland while they were realizing the repair work and tranquil gathering recordsdata for the experiment. But I did wait on your entire significant conferences and had of us from NASA attain to Switzerland to search advice from me about what they’re doing.

A view of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) experiment on the outside of the International Space Station.

A specialise in about of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 experiment on the exterior of the International Set Set. (Image credit: NASA)

Set.com: In simple terms, can you indicate how the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer operates?

Ting: There are two forms of cosmic rays: of us who secure now not lift a collection aside, savor light waves and neutrinos, after which there are charged cosmic rays: electrons, positrons, protons and atomic nuclei. Because they lift a collection aside, they must own a mass. Because they’ve a mass they are absorbed within 100 kilometers [62 miles] of Earth’s atmosphere. So you may perhaps perchance well now not measure the intrinsic property of charged cosmic rays on the floor. 

To measure the property of charged cosmic rays in dwelling you’ve to set a detector in dwelling. Since you could measure the price, you wish a magnet. Inside of the magnet the obvious particles toddle one plot and the detrimental toddle the replace plot. Striking a magnet in dwelling is anxious, and we figured out how to set a spacious magnet in dwelling. It’s the first of its kind and we decided to set the top likely instrument likely inner. 

It’s miles a extraordinarily entire detector with seven ingredients that measure the price, the mass and the rate. The entirety is measured. There are a entire of 650 microprocessors and 300,000 channels. To this level, in 10 years, we now own measured 180 billion charged cosmic rays. That is a gigantic amount of signals, measured to an accuracy of 1%. The properties attain now not believe the sizzling theoretical units. What we now own got identified about cosmic rays wants a significant modification.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan works on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer during a spacewalk at the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan works on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer at some stage in a spacewalk at the International Set Set. (Image credit: NASA)

Set.com: What was as soon as the defining 2nd for you when picking a profession path?

Ting: I began at the University of Michigan in mechanical engineering. After one twelve months, my consultant said that I used to be as soon as no mechanical engineer. Because at that time, there were no computers. You had to comprise drawings looking from the tip, looking from the facet, looking from the air. So my consultant said I must toddle into physics and skip the undergraduate classes and toddle win classes in graduate college. The consultant was as soon as Professor Robert White, a thoroughly identified engineer. And that is how I changed into a physicist.

Set.com: What keeps you impressed and motivated on your mind-rising discipline?

Ting: Curiosity. To select a subject and build a matter to the shapely search recordsdata from is a extraordinarily significant a part of a physicist. Most frequently, my experiments will procure critical amounts of objections from the scientific community. Of us specialise in that it is too anxious and no-one can attain it. Mighty extra of us specialise in it is very ineffective. Physics does now not rely on votes. Public notion is indispensable, however now not the largest. Must you substitute public notion along with your pause results, then you no doubt comprise a contribution to the discipline.

Set.com: What advice would you give to these desirous to survey physics and astronomy?

Ting: From my fetch skills, I specialise in each person’s ability is cramped. In expose to comprise a contribution it is critical to savor it is top to take into account of one thing handiest. Whereas you are trying to attain physics, you could understand here’s the largest thing for you. Other issues are now not significant.

All six chapters of “Amongst the Stars” are truly on hand for streaming on Disney Plus.

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