Physics

I just received by Matin Durrani, editor of Physics World, a link to a fun game, and thought I'd give it a try. The game consists in guessing which among two titles of physics papers is right, and which one is instead artificially generated by the snarxiv, a witty endeavour which aims at showing just how arcane and odd-looking may physics abstracts be.

Try it for yourself here, it is not as easy as it sounds, but at least it is fast and immediate to play. I cannot avoid bragging about my own result here, which is more or less in line with my actual qualification as a professional physicist:
Researchers in China have created an electromagnetic absorbing device for microwave frequencies. The device, called an “omnidirectional electromagnetic absorber”, is made of a thin cylinder comprising 60 concentric rings of metamaterials and is capable of absorbing microwave radiation, so they compared it to an astrophysical black hole which soaks up matter and light.
Not even a week has passed since the announcement by Carlo Rubbia that the ICARUS experiment is collecting its first neutrino interactions, that another experiment at the Gran Sasso Laboratory claims the international scene of neutrino physics. And this time with a real reason. Not the observation of the first events - the experiment in question, OPERA, has been active for more than three years now- but for the observation of a fundamental process that had never been seen before!


In a mail message sent to the INFN president Roberto Petronzio and a few other distinguished particle physicists (not me, I got it third-hand), Carlo Rubbia announced today at 3.53 PM that the ICARUS experiment has begun operations. Below is the unamended text, which I excuse myself if I distribute freely, given the scientific value of the information and my conviction that I am not harming in any way the experiment nor the people involved (leave alone my own employer, INFN):

"We have the pleasure to announce that today at 12:14. immediately after turn on of the detector, tracks have been observed by one of the cryostats of T600 triggered by the internal phototube counters.
And after all, it is just a matter of language.

I am convinced that 99% of the reason why a person with no scientific background cannot follow the developments of a particular research topic, despite a strong will, is language. Not the lack of ten years of specialization, nor the dearth of basic knowledge. Anything that can be explained in plain English -anything- can be understood by an English speaker willing to listen.

So why is it so hard then? Cannot we, the scientists, just make that little extra effort and step down a bit from our self-erected podium? Or is it not really needed, given the number of science reporters out there, who actually do a pretty good job in most cases?
"Leptons interact only with photons, and with the intermediate bosons that presumably mediate weak interactions. What could be more natural than to unite these spin-one bosons into a multiplet of gauge fields ? Standing in the way of this synthesis are the obvious differences in the masses of the photon and the intermediate (boson), and in their couplings. We might hope to understand these differences by imagining that the symmetries relating the weak and electromagnetic interactions are exact symmetries of the Lagrangian but are broken by the vacuum".

Steven Weinberg
Listening to music based on the genre it belongs to may lead you away from songs or albums you would actually enjoy, say the authors of a study in the New Journal of Physics.

The research shows that searching for the temporal aspects of songs – their rhythm – might be a better way to find music you like than using current automatic genre classifications.

By studying similar and different characteristics of specific rhythmic durations and the occurrence of rhythmic sequences, the group of Brazilian researchers found that it is possible to correctly identify the musical genres of specific musical pieces.
Albert Einstein said scientists would never be able to observe the instantaneous velocity of tiny particles as they randomly shake and shimmy, so called Brownian motion, but physicist at the University of Texas say they have done so.

In 1907, Einstein likely did not foresee a time when dust-sized particles of glass could be trapped and suspended in air by dual laser beam "optical tweezers." Nor would he have known that ultrasonic vibrations from a plate-like transducer would shake those glass beads into the air to be tweezed and measured as they moved in suspension.
Finally, the Bose-Einstein Correlations article by CMS to which I have personally contributed during the last few months is now an arxiv entry, and has been sent to Physical Review Letters. This is a success for the CMS collaboration, since we are the first to measure this effect in the new LHC proton-proton collisions, at 0.9 and 2.36 TeV of center-of-mass energy.
If you follow the blogosphere as a source of information on cutting-edge high-energy-physics results, you certainly by now know that the DZERO collaboration has produced a new exciting result. They find a 3.2 standard deviation effect in a study of charge asymmetry of muon pairs, which can be due to a unexpected, large source of CP violation -one which constitutes a very good shot at explaining the origin of the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the Universe!