Physics

In the early morning hours of March 4th, 2002, a reconnaissance team of US Navy SEALs became pinned down on the ridge dividing the Upper and Lower Shahikot valley in Afghanistan.

A Chinook helicopter with 21 men on a mission to rescue them was heading for the snowcapped peak of Takur Ghar  when U.S. military officers in Bagram radioed them with a message not to land on the peak, because the mountaintop was under enemy control. 

The rescue team never got the message. Just after daybreak, the Chinook took heavy enemy fire and it crash-landed on the peak. Three men were killed in the ensuing firefight.


Last Friday Samuel Ting, the winner of the 1975 Nobel prize in Physics for the co-discovery of the J/ψ particle, gave a seminar in the packed CERN main auditorium on the latest results from AMS, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer installed on the international space station.

Physicists at the University of Geneva have succeeded in teleporting the quantum state of a photon to a crystal over 25 kilometers of optical fiber.

The experiment shatters the previous record of 6 kilometers achieved 10 years ago by the same  team. Passing from light into matter, using teleportation of a photon to a crystal, shows that, in quantum physics, it is not the composition of a particle which is important, but rather its state, since this can exist and persist outside such extreme differences as those which distinguish light from matter.

The latest experiments have enabled verifying that the quantum state of a photon can be maintained whilst transporting it into a crystal without the two coming directly into contact.


How is this for some exciting news, straight from the same source as “I Let My Computer Use My Brain” three years ago, but much advanced in the ways artificial intelligence (AI) has integrated itself further so that most anybody can now work with it, or better, play with it and do cutting edge research nevertheless:

 

What is dark matter? No one can say because it can't be detected or measured, but in science inference can help and we know that something is making gravity not work properly at the large scale.

What we know as matter - stars, planets, us and other organisms - is baryonic matter, but it is only a small fraction of the universe. The rest gets lumped under blanket terms like dark energy and dark matter. Dark matter must be a form of matter the particles of which move slowly in comparison with light and interact weakly with electromagnetic radiation.


Being at CERN for a couple of weeks, I could not refrain from following yesterday's talks in the Main Auditorium, which celebrated the 90th birthday of Herwig Schopper, who directed CERN in the crucial years of the LEP construction.

A talk I found most enjoyable was John Ellis'. He gave an overview of the historical context preceding the decision to build LEP, and then a summary of the incredible bounty of knowledge that the machine produced in the 1990s.
After four months of frenzy by over 1500 teams, the very successful Higgs Challenge launched by the ATLAS collaboration ended yesterday, and the "private leaderboard" with the final standings has been revealed. You can see the top 20 scorers below.


I just read with interest the new paper on the arxiv by my INFN-Padova colleague Massimo Passera and collaborators, titled "Limiting Two-Higgs Doublet Models", and I thought I would explain to you here why I consider it very interesting and what are its conclusions.
The field of physics attracts crackpots. It is impossible to completely avoid them, and after a nasty incident in 1952 with an actually mentally ill individual who was upset no one would listen to his theories concluding electrons don't exist, the American Physical Society decided to give up trying to avoid them. A membership and willingness to pay a fee will guarantee you the opportunity to share your ideas at major APS meetings.
One year ago I had the pleasure to spend some time with George Zweig during a conference in Crete (ICNFP 2013). He is a wonderful storyteller and a great chap to hung around with, and I had great fun in the after-dinners on the terrace of the Orthodox Academy of Crete overlooking the Aegean sea, drinking raki and chatting about physics and other subjects.