Physics

In his article “The World Is Not Woven From Real Stuff” Sascha Vongehr raised the important matter of quantum physics and our perception of the natural world.

He argued that “the feeling that facts are just out there in a really existing world, is strictly wrong” and asked “However, how can a layperson best grasp that direct realism is wrong?”

The reader was then taken through the mental exercise of considering how familiar objects such as billiard balls behave, that is, they lose motion. This was used to demonstrate that “real things” cannot be made of smaller things inside smaller things because eventually “real stuff out of smaller real stuff slows down and collapses into a motionless heap over time.”
In his recent blog post "The World Is Not Woven From Real Stuff", Sascha Vongehr wrote:
Some merely claim that we need quantum mechanics so that the electron does not fall into the atom’s nucleus. Any classical electric charge would spiral into the atom's nucleus. The material that they make up would collapse.... Well, how convincing is this argument? Does it convince you? It would not convince me without a severe dose of already knowing at least a bunch of electromagnetism. Why could there not be some other, more intuitive explanation of why atoms do not collapse?
The interest for the tentative new signal of a Higgs decay to photon pairs does not seem to cease. Yesterday I gave a short interview to Fabio De Sicot, on the latest Higgs rumour. Fabio works for an Italian radio station, Radio Città Fujiko.

The interview is available as a podcast here, but be aware that it is in Italian...
Another comment on the ATLAS rumour is worth mentioning today, even if it comes a bit late, because it is written by Jon Butterworth, who is a ATLAS collaborator who also writes for the Guardian. You can find it here.

In particular here's a notable quote:

The thing is, CERN is an exciting place right now. New data are coming in as I write. There are lots of levels of collaboration and competition. Retaining a
Worth mentioning because of its irrelevance: that's my other choice for a post which points out a new preprint by H.Nielsen, the Danish physicist who became famous by hypothesizing that the future was influencing the past in order to prevent us from discovering the Higgs boson.
Spring is my favourite season in Batavia, watching peaks blossom in every distribution... A comment by Lubos Motl (in the thread of a post of mine on Higgs searches in ZZ decay modes) alerted me of a new result by the DZERO collaboration, where a significant (2.5 standard deviations) fluctuation of the data in the mass distribution of t-prime quarks makes its ephemeral appearance. Lubos already covered it in his blog.
What is sexy? That is in the eye of the beholder. The eye dominates, using roughly 40% of our CPU. We don’t ask movie stars to understand spread-spectrum communications technology, unless they do, like Hedy Lamarr.
The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory has detected the antimatter partner of the helium nucleus, antihelium-4. This new particle, also known as the anti-alpha, is the heaviest antinucleus ever detected, topping a discovery announced by the same collaboration just last year.  The new record will likely stand far longer, the scientists say, because the next weightier antimatter nucleus that does not undergo radioactive decay is predicted to be a million times more rare - and out of reach of today's technology.

Why should there not be ‘stuff’, or ‘real things’ instead of weird quantum mechanics at some microscopic scale? In other words, how can we accept that direct realism is wrong without getting too ‘difficult’.

Accepting that the world is in some sense in our minds is not aimed at encouraging ‘spirituality’ or whatever the euphemism for religious craziness is nowadays. I have none of that! Not even any switching on of consciousness once we add a little quantum magic to a zombie’s brain. There is indeed a deep connection* between consciousness and quantum physics, but for this article here, let’s forget about that connection.

It was bound to happen, and well predicted in advance, but it still feels good to report it here. The LHC last night exceeded by a good 15% the previous record instataneous luminosity for hadron collider beams, previously held by the Tevatron collider at 4.024x10^32 cm^-2 s^-1. The new record (soon to be surpassed by the LHC itself, anyway) is now 4.67x10^32.