Today I collected in my mailbox the hefty "Review of Particle Physics", the publication of the Particle Data Group which contains a summary of everything we know about subatomic particles. For the first time, the publisher is a Chinese journal: Chinese Physics C. This might be considered a detail, but it is a sign of times: China has been increasing its involvement in fundamental physics research in the last decade, and it may well become the leading country in this business in the future.

In this post, I will provide the ultra orthodox fringe view (translation: just my view) on the problems that face physics when doing classical problems with gravity.  The difference between this blog and a more conventional presentation is that I will emphasize the problems instead of starting off with the leading proposals of the day.


The mysterious, distant and yet unexplored by any probe world of Pluto and its moons, located on the edge of our solar system, is about to get visited.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14 will perform the first ever close-up flyby of the fallen planet. Downgraded in 2006 to dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Pluto holds key clues to our understanding of the formation of our solar system.
There are some students in the department I work in who made a music video because they don't have enough funding to do experiments.

http://wp.vcu.edu/somdiscoveries/2014/11/student-scientists-parody-video...

As another parody, I am bringing up the recent biosketch controversy. Basically, Republicans are absolutely convinced that scientists just waste taxpayer money all day, even though they need us to prove their points as long as we agree with them. Democrats also are involved with the latter part of that, but they don't complain as much. You can read about the biosketch change here.

I am a firm believer that physics is the One Science To Rule Them All and can accomplish almost anything, but I had not predicted that the "fourth state of matter" - non-thermal plasma - could show immunology how it's done and kill off noroviruses, the most common cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis around the world that gets fame far too often for making people sick on things like cruise ships.
Me

Me

Jan 30 2015 | 6 comment(s)

This blog - which, in different sites, has been online since 2005, hence for over 10 years now - enjoys a core of faithful readers, who over the years have learnt more detail on my personal life than they probably thought they'd need. But it also occasionally attracts larger crowds of web navigants with an interest in particle physics. They have all rights to not know who I am and whether I am a 20yo geek or a retired professor, male or female, etcetera. 
Apparently, PLANCK says that BICEP2 did not detect gravitational waves.  The signal was mostly intergalactic dust.   That is my reading of a Google translate translation of an official Planck website.   This is even more tentative and un-reviewed than the arXiv postings that often set off a big story.  However, if this holds true it seems that BICEP2 did not indeed detect gravitational waves.  This may have officially finally settled the matter of BICEP2.  

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To put it briefly, the habitability of a planet depends on it's distance from its star, the composition of its atmosphere, and the type of star its orbiting.  If our own solar system is at all typical then planets like those known around Kepler 444 and reported in the paper  arXiv:1501.06227 do not have atmosphere or have a Venus like atmosphere. 
If there is another Earth size planet to be found, father out, where it's a bit cooler it could be a home for life.    If it did have life that life could, due to the age of the planet, have been in existence long before life on Earth. 
Oh, yes.  I absolutely adore meeting with the media, it's my chance to give something back, don't you know, to give aspiring young journalists a paw up, as it were.  It's the least I can do.

I understand, dear.  Of course you feel that way.  I'm sure I would too, if I were in your shoes.  Sorry! I can't resist these little jokes.

Yes, I think we should.  What would you like to ask me?