Physics

Today is a good day: I can rest in peace without working out my daily share of science popularization here, because I have something better to do, which will have a much more sizable positive effect for the diffusion of particle physics. In fact, I hold in my hands a brand new copy of Gian Francesco Giudice's book, "A Zeptospace Odyssey - A Journey into the Physics of the LHC". All I have to do is to explain to you why you really should buy, read, and give as a present this book to all your friends.

Gian Francesco Giudice
Is David Beckham a keen physicist?   Though he wouldn't know how to do the equations on a chalkboard, he certainly does it in his head and then with his feet - so perhaps he is an experimental physicist at heart.

I've often used baseball to talk about concepts such as drag, the Bernoulli principle, Reynolds number and the Magnus effect but Beckham's ability to curve the football so much can teach the same things.

The Bernoulli effect tells us faster moving air reduces pressure and a pressure difference is on either side of the ball  creates a net force called the Magnus effect:

   Velocity      Drag

In my friend Peter Woit's blog I read an interesting account of an interview to Greene and Kachru, two leading string theorists. Here is an excerpt, which Peter got from the World's Science Festival:

John Hockenberry, the panel’s moderator, asked Greene if he thought experimental evidence would come during his lifetime.

“I’d be surprised,” said Greene.

“And in your lifetime?” Hockenberry asked Kachru.

"I do not understand why journalists and others want to know about the latest discoveries in physics even when they know nothing about the earlier discoveries that give meaning to the latest discoveries"

Richard Feynman (quoted by G.F.Giudice, "A Zeptospace Odyssey", Oxford University Press 2010)
CMS Bosons!

CMS Bosons!

Jun 08 2010 | 9 comment(s)

Ah, the joy to see bosons in our first 7-TeV proton-proton collisions at LHC! The CMS experiment has released two days ago its first results on W and Z bosons, plus many other riches. Of course, these plots are only demonstrative, since the statistics is still ridiculously poor if compared with the wealth of data available at the Tevatron. But still, these are collisions at 3.5 times more energy, and the machine is doubling its luminosity every week or so, so I expect that very soon the distributions will stop looking rough and will start containing real information, to be converted in meaningful measurements of the relevant physical quantities.

J/Psi mesons
It is Sunday morning, and I am about to leave for a day on the beach, the first of this busy 2010; so this post will be shorter than I would like it to be... There would be lots to say about exclusive physics at colliders. But I still want to share with you a figure extracted from a recent 4-page preprint article by James Pinfold, who nicely summarizes the signals and searches for exclusive processes at the Tevatron proton-antiproton collider.
After two years spent saying that Italy has a strong economy and is doing better than the rest of Europe, and strongly criticizing whomever tried to warn that the economical crisis was not over yet, the Italian government led by Silvio Berlusconi has made a sharp turn. The buzzword is now "avert the Greek risk", and while painting dreadful scenarios Berlusconi and his ministers have crafted a finance law that drags over 30 billion euros mostly from salaries. The anti-Robin-Hood strikes again.
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!