Physics

As I promised a week ago, I am posting answers to a few of the 42 questions which constituted the first part of an the exam selecting experimental particle physicists for the INFN (the italian institute of nuclear physics) four years ago. Next week, a similar exam will take place to "qualify" post-doctoral scientists which aspire at a temporary position with INFN.
In a few days, scores of Italian post-doctoral researchers in experimental particle physics will get tested on their knowledge of the matter, without any promise of a position, but just to get one further "stamp" on their curriculum, testifying that they are competent enough to be worth offering a temporary position by INFN, the Italian Institute for (sub)Nuclear Physics. So this is a  national exam, with the sole purpose of giving a green light to be admitted to two-year positions , which are typically paid less than 1400 euros a month, and which are so far not available. Frankly, I feel ashamed, since I myself work for INFN, and I strongly disagree with its current recruitment policies.
From Prof. Chad Orzel's Graduation Speech:

Science isn't a body of facts, science is a process for figuring out how the world works: you see something interesting, come up with an idea of why that might happen, and test you're idea to see if you're right. You repeat this process until you figure out why things happen the way they do, and then you use that knowledge to explain new things, or to do things that you couldn't do before.
If you have followed this blog for long enough, dear readers, the words "multi-muons", "anomalous muons", or even "lepton jets" are not foreign to you. They all refer to a paper appeared on the ArXiv on the evening of Halloween last year. In the paper the CDF collaboration published the results of a detailed analysis which described how a component of collider data containing two or more muons could not be explained by known Standard Model processes.
In a few days italian post-docs working in high-energy physics will be asked to gather for a nasty exam, held by the INFN -the italian institute for nuclear physics- to qualify valiant researchers for future hiring in the institute.

The exam generated a wave of outrage among the very pool of people at which it is aimed: the scores of "precari" (temporary workers) who are spending the best years of their life to try and make a career in particle physics.  Let me explain why that is so.
Prologue
For a long time, recreational computer users all over the world have benefitted from improvements to computing systems that were invented in order to facilitate research in fundamental physics. The foremost example is, of course, the World Wide Web which you are using to read this.

Now the time has come for the gamers to give back to physics. Of course, nobody would buy that as a moral argument, but money talks louder than most ethicists, and the market for games consoles and graphics cards has become huge and strongly driven by increases in computational performance, leading to ever faster graphics processors being developed to please the gamers. If you have a moderately recent desktop computer, odds are that the graphics card has more computational power than the CPU.
Below I offer a preview of the slides I will show tomorrow at an invited seminar on the rather technical topic of  "The b-jet energy calibration with Z-->bb decays", which I have come to CERN to give at a meeting of the LHCb collaboration. As I mentioned already in the first part of this two-part article, the topic is rather technical, and I do not expect a large audience -but I will nonetheless make an attempt at explaining the meaning of the slides pasted below. Then, of course, I am available to provide some additional light on any specific issue among those dealt below which you may want to understand more about.
Tomorrow I am traveling to CERN, where I have been invited to give a seminar at a meeting of the LHCb experiment. My talk will discuss the issue of the energy calibration of b-quark jets, a topic to which I have devoted a good part of my research time for the last thirteen years. The talk will of course be centred on the explanation of the analysis Julien Donini and I, together with a few colleagues, performed in CDF a few years ago, the search for Z boson decays to b-quark jet pairs.
Created in a Bose Einstein Condensate, sound may enter these acoustic black holes but it may not leave.  This creates an system we can experiment with on a table top level and learn about black holes from it.  

The strange and unique features of the Bose condensate never cease to surprise us.  A while back they were used to slow a beam of light almost to a standstill. Now a research team out of the institute of technology in Haifa Israel claims to have created "A sonic black hole in a density-inverted Bose-Einstein condensate." by O. Lahav, A. Itah, A. Blumkin, C. Gordon, and J. Steinhauer (Arxiv link to PDF).