My friend Peppe Liberti, a physicist and blogger
from southern Italy, sent me today a amusing list of essential biographies of scientists. I wish to share them with you here, after I explain what this is about.
The rules of the game are quite simple: find an amusing way to summarize as succintly as possible (usually not exceeding two lines of text) the life and works of a well-known scientist.
Here is Peppe's bid: five really good ones.
- Ludwig Boltzmann was one that sought an equilibrium. He died in an irreversible manner.
- Georg Cantor tried to order the infinities. Ended in a closed set.
Well, who exactly is DORIS? “She” is actually the first Doppel-Ring-Speicher (which translates neatly into English as “Double-Ring Storage”) at DESY, the Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron in Hamburg. It’s not the only one; the more recent PETRA (Positron-Elektron-Tandem-Ring-Anlage) and HERA (Hadron-Elektron-Ring-Anlage) are both storage rings.
Analogies are a powerful way to explain complicated scientific concepts. I use them as much as I can whenever I describe particle physics in this blog or when I give a outreach talk in a school. However, good ones are not always easy to find. One usually needs examples from everyday life, which are simple to describe and which do not possess distracting features.
Today I wish to try my luck with you, to see if you come up with an analogy which is better than the one I could find to explain a feature of weak interactions. I must say I am not dissatisfied with my own find, but it is always good to subject oneselves to external judgement.
This is to inform you of the new luminosity record set today by the Tevatron collider at Fermilab. The machine has been working excellently, improving its performance as the machinists found ways to obtain higher stacks of antiprotons, reducing inefficiencies in the transport of the beams from one accelerator to the other in the injection process, or finding better beam tunes. A painstaking work that brought increasing returns, it seems.
I was invited to give a talk and participate in a round table, at a conference on Physics communication in Frascati, a small town near Rome where the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics has its headquarters. The conference also has a poster session, so I produced a simple poster to advertise this site.
Here is the poster (in italian -sorry). The full-sized version is 10 Mbytes so I will avoid posting it here.
Below is a quick-and-dirty translation of what I write in a few of the frames:
Two new studies made using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have put Einstein's General Theory of Relativity to the test (again) and the results show it is still the best game in town.
Each team used observations of galaxy clusters, the largest objects in the Universe bound together by gravity, and one result undercuts a rival gravity model to General Relativity, known as "f(R) gravity", while the other shows that Einstein's theory works over a vast range of times and distances across the cosmos.
Lesson of the day: if the moderator falls asleep, the loquacious speaker will take advantage of it and will not stop talking. Net result: the coffee break remains a chimeric dream.
Today I am attending a conference on the communication of Physics, at Frascati. They invited me there to present this blog, and discuss my experience with it. I spent last night trying to put together something meaningful, and I am now approximately satisfied with the result.
While I was preparing my slides (which include a online navigation in the site), it occurred to me that it has been a long time since I last played the "top searches" game. If you own a web site, you can play it too: it consists in finding combinations of words that, input in the google search window, will get one of your pages as the first hit.
In two years the Higgs boson will be close to discovery, and its mass already known, or the particle will be already in the trash bin. That is the single line which best summarizes the scenarios I depicted yesterday, in the concluding slides of a seminar I gave at IFIC, in beautiful Valencia (below, placa de la Virgen on a pleasant evening, taken with my iphone).