Hi all, and welcome! On this site, devoted to sharing the excitement and meaning of science, you’ll find a blog (posts begin below) and reference articles (accessible from the menus above.) The site is being upgraded, so you’ll see some ongoing changes; if you notice technical problems, please let me know. [Sep. 6: I’m aware spam filtering has been too aggressive today.] Thanks, and enjoy!
A few weeks ago, the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] ended its 2015 data taking of 13 TeV proton-proton collisions. This month we’re getting our first look at the data.
Already the ATLAS experiment has put out two results which are a significant and impressive contribution to human knowledge. CMS has one as well (sorry to have overlooked it the first time, but it isn’t posted on the usual Twiki page for some reason.)
A number of people have asked why the blog has been quiet. To make a long story short, my two-year Harvard visit came to an end, and my grant proposals were turned down. No other options showed up except for a six-week fellowship at the Galileo Institute (thanks to the Simons Foundation), which ended last … Read more
As promised, I’ve completed the third section, as well as a short addendum to the second section, of my article on how experimenters at the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] can try to discover dark matter particles. The article is here; if you’ve already read what I wrote as of last Wednesday, you can pick up … Read more
To fill in another important detail that will be important later, I added a short section to the end of my article about quantum tunneling. Specifically, suppose you have an electron, placed in one of two traps, such that the electron can tunnel from one trap to the other. What happens if one of the traps is deeper … Read more
[Note Added: I have been unable to confirm the story described below from any source other than the original one — the lawyer who stands to benefit from it. At this point, based on remarks by my readers, I’m inclined to think the story is implausible.] It’s been a little quiet on the blog, … Read more
This post is a continuation of three previous posts: #1, #2 and #3. When the Strong Nuclear Force is Truly Strong Although I’ve already told you a lot about how we make predictions using the Standard Model of particle physics, there’s more to the story. The tricky quantum field theory that we run into in … Read more
This week and next, I’m very busy preparing and delivering a new class (four lectures, 1.5 hours each), for a non-technical audience, on the importance of and the discovery of the Higgs particle. I’ll be giving it in Western Massachusetts (my old stomping grounds). If it goes well I may try to give these lectures elsewhere (and please let me know if you know of an institution that might be interested to host them.) Teaching a new class for a non-technical audience requires a lot of concentration, so I probably won’t get too much writing in over that period.
Still, as many of you requested, I do hope soon to follow up last week’s article (on how particle physicists talk about the strength of the different forces) with an article explaining how both particles and forces arise from fields — a topic I already addressed to some extent in this article, which you may find useful.
Now — a few words on the flap over the suggestion that math Ph.D. and finance expert Eric Weinstein, in his mid-40s, may be the new Albert Einstein. I’ve kept my mouth shut about this because, simply, how can I comment usefully on something I know absolutely nothing about? (Admittedly, the modern media, blogosphere and Twitter seem to encourage people to make such comments. Not On This Blog.) There’s no scientific paper for me to read. There’s no technical scientific talk for me to listen to. I know nothing about this person’s research. All I know so far is hearsay. That’s all almost anyone knows, except for a few of my colleagues at Oxford — trustworthy and experienced physicists, who sound quite skeptical, and certainly asked questions that Weinstein couldn’t answer... which doesn’t mean Weinstein is necessarily wrong, only that his theory clearly isn’t finished yet. (However, I must admit my expert eye is worried that he didn’t have ready answers to such basic questions.)
What I do know is that the probability that Weinstein is the new Einstein is very low. Why? Because I do know a lot about how very smart people with very good ideas fail to be Einstein. It’s not because they’re dumb or foolish.