Physics

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)
A weekly visit to the Cornell Arxiv is more than enough for a physicist like me, since my daily work is not affected too much by whatever happens to be published there. Oftentimes, when I browse the contents of hep-ph (the folder containing preprints on particle phenomenology) I do not end up actually reading any papers, and limit myself to "sniffing" what is going on, by looking at the titles and author names. But at times I venture to browse through the pages, with mixed results.
I have no energy today to put together a detailed discussion of a brand new, exciting search for supersymmetric Higgs boson performed in data collected by the CDF experiment at the Tevatron proton-antiproton collider. All I can do for you is to show the interesting result of the search, and give you some very general ideas of what this is and why it is interesting. Maybe tomorrow or Saturday I will be able to pay more justice to the analysis.
2010 has just started with the best auspices to bring us exciting new science, and there comes a pledge to forecast what will happen in 2020. Oh, well - rest is not what I became a scientist for.

Making non-trivial predictions today for how will basic research be in subnuclear physics ten years down the line is highly non-trivial. For exactly the opposite reason that it is equally hard in several other fields of research.
Our universe expands, and this expansion is accelerating. Current consensus is to attribute this acceleration to a mysterious form of energy: dark energy. This dark energy density is very tiny and therefore only notable at cosmic length scales. When expressed in natural units, the cosmic dark energy density has a value of 10-123. This tiny value presents a big mystery. Straightforward estimates for the dark energy density based on quantum field theoretical considerations result in values (again in natural units) close to unity.