Physics

A very important new theoretical study appeared yesterday in the hep-ph preprint arxiv.
Titled "Precise Predictions on W+4 Jet Production at the Large Hadron Collider", it is signed by a strong team of theorists: C. Berger, Z. Bern, L. Dixon, F. Febres Cordero, D. Forde, T. Gleisberg, H. Ita, D. Kosover, and D. Maitre. I will try to summarize its importance for the physics of the Large Hadron Collider in accessible terms tomorrow; for the time being I just wish to point it out for those who are capable of reading the paper but are too lazy to check the arxiv daily. I know, you belong to this set but you won't admit it!
What happens to the laws of physics if a fundamental constant turns out to be not a constant after all?   The 'magic number' known as the fine-structure constant, called 'alpha' by physicists,  appears to vary throughout the universe, according to a team of astrophysicists.

That means the laws of physics would vary throughout the universe also.

The arXiv preprint describes how they determined that the fine-structure constant 'alpha' varies by measuring light from a quasar as it red-shifted due to universal expansion.
To physicists, nothing is really a coincidence.   Even cats in quantum boxes can be explained in mathematical terms, not to mention roulette or the success or failure of an attack in Dungeons&Dragons, but researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Light in Erlangen say they have constructed a device that is truly random and generates random numbers that cannot be predicted in advance.

The researchers exploit the fact that measurements based on quantum physics can only produce a special result with a certain degree of probability, that is, randomly. True random numbers are needed for the secure encryption of data and to enable the reliable simulation of economic processes and changes in the climate. 
Sean Carroll writes that in GR “spacetime can give energy to matter, or absorb it from matter, so that the total energy simply isn’t conserved”.

He probably means “space” here, not “space-time”, because space-time already includes time and thus has no further time to do anything, let alone absorb stuff. Let us nevertheless do a sympathetic reading and firstly show what he may mean with a simple example:

No, it is not a typo. I do mean "quirks": these are hidden-valley brothers of quarks predicted to exist in some fancy new physics scenarios. These particles have been sought by the DZERO experiment in a large dataset of proton-antiproton collisions, making use of a neat technique which I thought could be interesting to briefly explain today.
Bantam Books must be happy. Prior to going on sale, Stephen Hawking's* new book 'The Grand Design' has attracted considerable media attention. (See for instance: CNN, BBC, Yahoo, Telegraph, and LA Times.)

What's this fuzz all about? 
I like to guide your attention to the work of Denis Sciama who in his article "On the origin of inertia" (see reference below) has put a very interesting view not only on the origin of inertia, but also on the origin of gravity. His approach is only very very indirectly related with entropy. However, his approach includes the influence of the whole of the universe.
A Labor Day special: I am offering you to have a short virtual tour of the CDF Control Room today, free of charge. I am currently on shift there, and we are taking data. If you send me an email with your skype account coordinates, I will call you and show you the place with a web-cam. No audio though, since I cannot disturb my colleagues here. I will complement the visual roundabout tour of the monitors with a few short text explanations. The service is subject to abrupt interruptions or delays due to possible emergencies I need to take care of.

My email is firstname.lastname (at) google.com . Beware of the spelling of my first name - 30% of English natives put one M and two S in it.
Back to breathing the air of Fermilab after a full year away, I got to gauge a bit better the aftermath of the little incident created by a posting of mine in July. As often happens with internet bubbles, they look quite dramatic as they inflate, but they leave no big scars. Two months have passed, and this looks like a good time to post here some ruminations about the general issue.

Physics Experiments And Confidentiality
Since today, and for a full week, I will be serving as Scientific Coordinator (SciCo) of the crew operating the CDF experiment at Fermilab. This honorable task (or in alternative, the serving as "Consumer Operator" or "ACE") is required to all collaborators once or twice per year, in order to provide 24/7 operation of the detector and supervision of the data-taking activities.

The crew is formed by a SciCo, a CO, and an ACE.