Of Particular Significance

Tag: supersymmetry

[Note Added: 9:30pm Eastern] Unfortunately this storm has consisted of a very bright spike of high activity and a very quick turnoff. It might restart, but it might not. Data below shows recorded activity in three-hour intervals — and the red or very high orange is where you’d want things to be for mid-latitude auroras.

The current solar storm has so far only had a high but brief spike, and might be over already.

Quick note: a powerful double solar flare from two groups of sunspots occurred on Friday. This in turn produced a significant blast of subatomic particles and magnetic field, called a Coronal Mass Ejection [CME], which headed in the direction of Earth. This CME arrived at Earth earlier than expected — a few hours ago — which also means it was probably stronger than expected, too. For those currently in darkness and close enough to the poles, it is probably generating strong auroras, also known as the Northern and Southern Lights.

No one knows how long this storm will continue, but check your skies tonight if you are in Europe especially, and possibly North America as well. The higher your latitude and the earlier your nightfall compared to now, the better your chances.

The ACE satellite, located between the Earth and Sun at a distance from Earth approximately 1% of the Sun-Earth distance, recorded the arrival of the CME a few hours ago as a jump in a number of its readings.
POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 24, 2024

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a book or blog about the universe (as physicists currently understand it) is that both writer and reader must confront the concept of fields. The problem isn’t that fields are intrinsically that complicated. It’s that they are an unfamiliar abstraction — and novel abstractions of any sort are always difficult both for a writer to describe and for a reader to grasp.

What I’ll do today is give an explanation of fields that is complementary to the one that appears in the book’s chapters 13 and 14. The book’s approach is slow, methodical, and detailed, but today’s will be more of an overview, brief and relatively shallow, and presented in a different order. You will likely come away with many unanswered questions, but the book should help with that. And if the book and today’s post combined are still not enough, you can ask a question in the comments below, or on the book question page.

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POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 21, 2024

After my post last week about familiar and unfamiliar standing waves — the former famous from musical instruments, the latter almost unknown except to physicists (see Chapter 17 of the book) — I got a number of questions. Quite a few took the form, “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Strassler! Obviously, if you have a standing wave in a box, and you remove the box, it will quickly disintegrate into traveling waves that move in opposite directions! There is no standing wave without a container.”

Well, I’m not joking. These waves are unfamiliar, sure, to the point that they violate what some readers may have learned elsewhere about standing waves. Today I’ll show you animations to prove it.

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POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 19, 2024

A quick note today about developments here at the website. The Reader Resources section of the site is slowly coming into being. These resources will supplement the book Waves in an Impossible Sea, providing answers to questions, opportunities to explore topics more deeply, access to endnotes (convenient for the upcoming audiobook and for readers who hate flipping back and forth between main text and endnotes), and access to figures (also convenient for the audiobook.)

First and foremost, though: readers’ questions!

  • If you’re confused about something in the book, ask about it here.
  • If you have a question that is related to the book but goes somewhat beyond its topics, consider asking about it here. (That will help me keep things better organized.)

I’ll be collecting questions and answering the most common in the reader resource materials. Those materials will be organized by book chapter. As an example, the post from last week on standing waves, which focuses on a central ingredient in the book, is already linked from the Chapter 17 section of the Reader Resources.

It’s going to take the better part of a year to fill out this new section of the website. I’ll be posting about it here on the blog as stuff comes available, so that you can check it out when it arrives.

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 18, 2024

Recently, the first completed search for what is nowadays known as SUEP — a Soft-Unclustered-Energy Pattern, in which large numbers of low-energy particles explode outward from one of the proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] — was made public by physicists working at the CMS experiment. As a theoretical idea, SUEP has its origin in 2006-2008, but it was this paper from 2016 that finally brought the possibility to widespread attention. (However, the name they gave it was unfortunate. To replace it, the acronym “SUEP” was invented.)

How can SUEP arise? If a proton-proton collision produces currently-unknown types of particles that

  • do not interact with ordinary matter directly (i.e. they are immune to the electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear forces),
  • but do interact with each other, via their own, ultra-powerful force,

they can cause that collision to turn to SUEP.

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POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 15, 2024

On April 8th, 2024, a small strip of North America will witness a total solar eclipse. Total solar eclipses are amazing, life-changing experiences; I hope you have a chance to experience one, as I did.

Everyone else from Central America to northern Canada will see a partial solar eclipse. What good is a partial solar eclipse?

Astonishingly, the best thing about a partial solar eclipse seems to have essentially disappeared from public knowledge. We’ve got three weeks to change that, and I hope you’ll help me — especially the science journalists and science teachers among you.

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POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON March 14, 2024

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A decay of a Higgs boson, as reconstructed by the CMS experiment at the LHC