Physics

This just in: Carl Brannen (here his blog) got a paper on gravitation published in a scientific magazine. Carl, who is the typical amateur who many "established scientists" in the blogosphere have labeled a crackpot in the last few years, does not actually fit the bill very well: he is a deep thinker who knows the literature of what he studies, and the fact that he is not salaried by a research institute means as little as this: he does it for Science, and not for a pay.
"Quidquid oritur, qualecumque est, causam habet a natura. Cum autem res nova et admirabilis fieri videtur, causam invetigato, si poteris, ratione confisus. Si nullam causam reperis, illud tamen certum habeto, nihil fieri potuisse sine causa naturali. Repelle igitur terrorem quem res nova tibi attulit et semper verbis sapientium confidere aude: sapiens enim facta, quae prodigiosa videntur , numquam fortuito evenisse dicet, quod nihil fieri sine causa potest, nec quicquam fit quod fieri non potest: nulla igitur portenta sunt. Nam si portentum putare debemus id quod raro fit, sapientem esse portentum est: facilius esse enim mulam parere arbitror quam sapientem esse."

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Quick and dirty translation:
To see the future, you must know the past: these nine words nicely summarize a syllogism which knows few exceptions. Turning to known data to check the power of one's extrapolations is a quite well-founded scientific approach. So if we are to try and guesstimate how much will the CDF and DZERO experiments manage to deliver in the next few years, we must check how well they delivered this far, by comparing results with early expectations.

But why bother ? Well, of course because there is a real challenge on: bookmakers need to tune the odds they offer!

Fermilab versus CERN
"Why three families ? Why the particular symmetry structure ? [...] If the Higgs particle turns out to exist as conventionally described, with a reasonably low mass (say less than 200 GeV) then that closes the Standard Model from a mathematical point of view. It is then quite conceivable that new physics, not contained in the Standard Model, will be way beyond the reach of any accelerator imaginable today. In this case, humanity might never get an answer to the questions posed above."

M.Veltman, Reflections on the Higgs System (1997).
Last Friday I was in Pisa, at the Scuola Normale Superiore (see picture), where italian members of the CMS Collaboration gathered for two days to discuss the status of their studies, exchange ideas, and try to coalesce common analysis efforts.
W bosons are amazingly interesting objects. Almost thirty years after their discovery -by Carlo Rubbia and his collaborators of the UA1 experiment at CERN- they continue to provide critical information on the theory of electroweak interactions. The front of particle physics has moved quite a bit further from 1983, and yet the weapons we use todat to try and conquer unexplored land have not changed much. Today I wish to summarize one particular search that has been done by the CDF experiment at the Tevatron proton-antiproton collider, one which tries to catch W bosons as they decay in a very uncommon way.
I have been lagging behind lately with my usual browsing of other physics blogs. So let me catch up here and suggest a few posts which should be interesting to read.

  • Peter Woit is always an extremely well-informed source of information. In a post titled "The Entropy Decade" he recently discussed how the 2010s appear to show a trend: entropy appears to be a concept that will yield more information about the universe and fundamental physics. In another he has a wealth of information on recent articles and sources.
I have many friends around the world. Some of them are far away, some live close by; but it is not the spatial separation what determines how often we meet, talk, or spend time together: it is rather a combination of chance, will, and expendiency. There are friends who live one block away which I have not seen in ages, since we do not even bump into each other, as we get out to work and return home at different times of the day. And friends who live in another continent, which I meet every time I travel there. And the Internet has simplified things, but not entirely removed the problem.
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"On the infrequent occasions when I have been called upon in a formal place to play the bongo drums, the introducer never seems to find it necessary to mention that I also do theoretical physics."

(Richard Feynman)