Physics

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 This is work in progress, somehow the option to keep an "yet unpublished version" disappeared.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:
Ok, I promise - my next post here will be a highly interesting article on the status of searches for new heavy Z bosons. In the meantime, however, I allow myself another "personal" post. After an evaluation of 2010 from the point of view of research activities and blog activities, I wish to report here on a few things I look forward to in 2011.

How does an electrical torch or flashlight work? According to the usual description, the lamp inside produces light, this light is shone on the objects we desire to see, partially reflected from their surfaces, and finally some of that light is captured by our eyes. This is not wrong, but it somewhat distorts the fundamentals of visual perception, which is not about perceiving light but about perceiving differences.

The Mystery of Entropy (1)

    What is entropy and what does entropy have to do with order and disorder? We know what order is. The concepts of order and disorder have been part of our consciousness since long before the notion of entropy was ever invented.
In case you haven't noticed, there is a new paper in the arxiv which you should not ignore if you are doing Higgs physics at the LHC. Of course, most of you are not involved in this, but still, it may feel good to know that there has recently been a collective effort of experimentalists and theorists to put together detailed and precise predictions for the Higgs boson production rate, in a way that can be easily used by the experiments.
Everybody knows that the orbital momentum  is "quantized" and its z-projection  has integer eigenvalues in units of  . Too few, however, know that it is, in fact, a quasi-particle angular momentum which is integer-valued, not the particle one!