Of Particular Significance

Category: General Relativity

This evening, Thursday June 6th at 6:30 pm, I’ll be joined at the Boston Public Library by Sarah Demers, professor at Yale and member of the ATLAS experiment, and Katrina Miller, Ph.D. in neutrino physics and writer for, among other publications, the New York Times. We’ll serve on a panel entitled “Particle Physics: Where the Universe and Humanity Collide”, talking about the future of particle physics and about how we got into physics in the first place. This event, intended for the general public, is part of the international scientific meeting that I’m attending this week, the 12th annual Large Hadron Collider Physics conference. I hope to see some of you there!

Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON June 6, 2024

At a conference like LHCP12, covering all of Large Hadron Collider [LHC] physics and beyond, there’s far too much to summarize: hundreds of talks, with thousands of incremental experimental results and theoretical insights. So instead, today I’ll draw attention to one of the longest-running puzzles of the LHC era, and to a significant step that’s been made toward resolving it. The puzzle in question involves a rare decay of bottom quarks.

[All figures in this post are taken from LHCP12 talks by Zhangqier Wang and Eluned Smith.]

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Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON June 5, 2024

The 12th Large Hadron Collider Physics conference is taking place this week in Boston, and for the first time in a several years, I’ll be able to attend in person. I’ll post about it all week.

As part of the conference activities, I will be participating in a public event Thursday night at the Boston Public Library, a panel discussion entitled “Where the Universe and Humanity Collide.” The other panelists are Yale Professor Sarah Demers, a member of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, and Dr. Katrina Miller, a particle physicis and a writer and essayist for the New York Times and other publications. We’ll be discussing the future of particle physics, talking about how we got into the field, and answering whatever questions the audience might have for us. If you’re in Boston, please consider attending!

Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON June 3, 2024

At the core of every atom lies its nucleus, where protons and neutrons are found. As their names suggest, these two subatomic particles are profoundly different.

  • Protons carry positive electric charge, and can attract negatively-charged electrons, making atoms possible.
  • Neutrons have no electric charge and are thus electrically neutral, hence their name; they have no impact on the electrons in atoms.

The distinctions extend to their magnetic effects. Both protons and neutrons have a “magnetic moment,” meaning that in a magnetic field, they will point like compasses. But neutrons point in the opposite direction from protons, and less agressively.

Nevertheless, the proton and neutron have almost identical masses, differing by less than two tenths of a percent! If we ignored their electric and magnetic effects, they’d almost be twins. Why are they so different in some ways and so similar in others? What does it reflect about nature?

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Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON May 29, 2024

A couple of months ago, I was on Daniel Whiteson’s podcast, which is called “Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe“. During the two-part episode in which I appeared, entitled “Is the Universe Made of Waves?” (Part 1 and Part 2), I explained some of the key points made in my book, “Waves in an Impossible Sea.”

One thing I emphasized is that while photons [“particles” of light] moving across empty space are always traveling waves moving at the speed of light c, electrons are different. When in motion they too are traveling waves, but unlike photons, they can slow down, and even be stationary. When stationary, they are standing waves, of a somewhat unfamiliar sort (as described here and here). All of this is discussed in detail in the book’s chapters 16 and 17.

Whiteson has sent me a couple of questions that listeners raised with him, and since I imagine some of you might have similar questions, I decided to answer them publicly here.

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Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON May 21, 2024

For forty years, the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) has had a famous science radio show called “Quirks and Quarks“; it is currently hosted by science journalist Bob McDonald. I’m pleased to tell you that I was invited onto that show this past week. In my conversation with McDonald, I explained how the Higgs field actually works, avoiding the “molasses”/”snow”/”crowd” analogies that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

(This all happened while I was spending a few days in Ontario. I was meeting all sorts of wonderful people at the Perimeter Institute’s 2024 science communicators conference SciComm Collider 2, organized by Katie Mack. More on that at a later time.)

If you’d like to hear the Quirks and Quarks conversation, or one of the other detailed podcast conversations I’ve had about my book, you can find them here:

Picture of POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON May 17, 2024

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