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!
I know that some of the visitors of this blog are surprised to find personal stuff in my column every now and then. However, a blog is an online diary, and I do leave here my personal thoughts if I feel like it. This is one of those times. If you are not curious nor interested you are thus advised to visit some other physics-full post, for example this recent one here. In this post I wish to discuss my personal achievements and failures, my highs and lows of the past year.

All in all, 2010 was a good year for me, for several reasons. Let me provide some highlights in random order.

The old discussion about how an airplane, that is many tons of steel, can keep staying supported in mere air, is a perfect example for how discussions way too often polarize into two camps with both sides being wrong. Little headway is possible once any attempt at resolution is portrayed as either a dangerous accommodating that leads onto a slippery slope toward defeat, or worse belonging to the other, the evil side. There are too many such issues, not only in politics or largely yet to be explored scientific fields like climatology. Even in known physics, for instance in special relativity, there are these polarized debates where both sides are wrong. The theories are well known and their domains of applicability are well delimited by both mathematics and experiment.

In his book "Everything's Relative - And Other Fables From Science And Technology" Tony Rothman writes:

 "[The term] 'special relativity' is probably the greatest misnomer in the history of science"

I wholeheartedly agree. Amongst all scientific terms, the single word 'relativity' stands out as absolute record holder for triggering an astonishing amount of utter nonsense. 
Dynamics can be surprising at times, even when applied to well-understood and tested physical systems such as a basketball and a basket. Look what happened to a free shot executed by Kamyl Kawrzydek in a match between Idaho State University and  Utah State University, played at Gossner's Invitational: the ball bounces on the basket, and then stops there for three full seconds, before eventually dropping into the basket.
Betting a grand on the existence or not of new physics is cool, but one does not need to be that daring (or to be that daring every other day) to enjoy the game of making predictions for what the fundamental research in experimental particle physics will discover or measure in a future close enough that we can reasonably expect to experience ourselves. So here I am, at the end of this eventful 2010, to look forward rather than backward, with no additional grand to invest but some insight to use, some reputation to waste, and a bit of humour to stuff between the lines.

Some unforeseen Christmas-vigil blog activity bringing here a few visitors more than average was traced today back to BBC News, who discussed the 2010 science highlights here.

The incoming link is in this paragraph:

The evolving role of the blogosphere in science came to the fore as particle physicists were preparing to gather in Paris for their annual conference. Internet rumours suggested that the US Tevatron particle smasher had seen hints of the elusive Higgs boson.

A reader of this blog asked in the comments thread of a recent piece the following interesting question:

"Assuming mH = 201 GeV/c2, how many Higgses shoud have been produced at
the Tevatron by now with an integated luminosity of 10 inverse
femtobarns? And how many H -> ZZ -> µµµµ would one expect to see?"