Physics

I just read with interest some slides portraying the situation of male/female differences in the employment at the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics, the institute I myself work for. I do not wish to make a summary here, but just paste a graph which I find interesting. The graph compares male and female employment in the University with the one in the INFN, for corresponding levels of employment.
At PhyStat 2011, currently being held at CERN, talks are informal and the atmosphere is friendly, but I have heard very few jokes from the participants so far. Just a minute ago I witnessed what might be a pretty strong bid at the best joke of the conference.

Kyle Cranmer was showing results of very CPU-intensive calculations of renormalization-group equations used to derive measurable parameters of Supersymmetry from the value of basic parameters at a high-energy scale. He was mentioning that the original calculation used to take 720 CPU-days, but that they had found a series of shortcuts using neural networks, and the result was a huge improvement in speed: this was now a 1-minute calculation!
Looks like particle physicists have finally digested the food of Christmas break by now. Just as I was reviewing a new paper on the arxiv on the Tevatron Higgs limits, I ran into another hot preprint, titled "The Reactor Antineutrino Anomaly".
While listening to highly interesting talks on cutting-edge statistical issues at PHYSTAT 2011, I have casually been reading this morning a paper recently posted on the arxiv, which was pointed out to me by a Cypriot friend, Alex (thanks, Alex!).

The authors (J. Baglio, A. Djouadi, S. Ferrag,

Remember the neat little experiment whose result may be counter intuitive to some of those who embrace the “all bodies fall the same way inside earth’s gravity” ‘doctrine’ without quite understanding it? Here it is again - if the video should not come up fast enough, here it is on the MIT website.

When physicists working in a collaboration want to publish the observation of a new effect in the data, they need to first convince their peer that what they are observing is real, and not the product of a weird fluctuation.

Statistical fluctuations are everywhere, and they sometimes do produce weird results. We are only human, and when facing unlikely fluctuations we are invariably tempted to interpret them as the manifestation of something new and unknown.
Thanks to the Tevatron Facebook account manager, R.M. (Ron, tell me if I can disclose your identity here), I can offer to you today an exceptional plot of historical significance.

Before I paste below the plot in question, let me discuss what it is about. The Tevatron collider has operated since October 1985 -about a couple of geological eras back, in particle physics terms. The W and Z bosons were newborn babies back then, the top quark was thought to have a mass in the 30-50 GeV ballpark, and, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, "Carlo Rubbia raged and the bodies stunk".
This just in. The Tevatron collider, proud and glory of Fermilab, the leading high-energy lab in the US, will stop collider operations for good at the end of FY2011. This means that CDF and DZERO will collect roughly 1800 additional inverse picobarns, reaching a total of about 10 inverse femtobarns of collected data (the delivered and acquired integrated luminosities differ due to downtimes as well as voluntary dead time of the triggering system).
New important information on high-energy particle physics has recently been released by the CDF experiment, one of the two detectors scrutinizing the 2-TeV proton-antiproton collisions copiously produced by the Fermilab Tevatron collider located near Batavia, Illinois (see aerial view of the site below). The CDF experiment has ruled out the existence of so-called "Z' bosons" (particles extraneous to the Standard Model which are predicted by a number of new physics models) for Z' masses below one Tera-electronvolt.
I am sorry, this is not yet supposed to be published, but I also do not want to delete the content. This is work in progress, somehow the option to keep an "yet unpublished version" disappeared.
You are thus welcome to follow my editing process (the version you read
now is already somewhat complete, but still not well organized).


In part one I promised to show that the trilobite molecule does not look at all like a trilobite but rather as a pine cone. I had some pictures, I wanted to upload them for later editing - but here it all became public.

Here is the Physics News original message with the trilobite molecule: