What Is A Tipping Point ?

The term 'tipping point' is in widespread use in English, but what does it mean?

Imagine a child's seesaw with an empty bucket on each end.  The seesaw is initially at rest with one end touching the ground.  If left alone, nothing would happen - there would be no motion.  The whole mechanical contraption would be in a static configuration - in static, or stable equilibrium.


May 08 2010 | 1 comment(s)

Every two years particle physicists meet at a conference which is just a bit more important, more well-attended, and more prestigious than all the others that pester our agendas every other week. This conference is called ICHEP - the International Conference on High-Energy Physics - and it is usually the favourite and most favourable place where to present or to listen to groundbreaking results, important advancements, thorough review talks.
Courtesy gizmodo:

The typo we had been all waiting for. And there is already who fantasizes about the need for a Large Hardon Condom, to play it safe...

Sorry for the reblogging, but this time I did not resist...
Two years ago I discussed the results of a very interesting search performed by the CDF experiment in its dataset of 2-TeV proton-antiproton collisions, provided by the Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab.

The search focused on the hypothesis that a massive fourth-generation quark was produced in the collisions. What was assumed was that the quark was heavy -otherwise previous searches would have found it already-, and that it behaved similarly to the sixth quark, the top, which is by now a well-known animal of the particle zoo.
Physicists at Ohio University and the University of Hamburg in Germany have captured  the first images of atomic spin in action. 

The research indicates that scientists can observe and perhaps manipulate spin, a finding that may impact future development of nanoscale magnetic storage, quantum computers and spintronic devices.

The images have been published in a new Nature Nanotechnology study.
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.



Apr 21 2010 | 1 comment(s)

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.

Synchrotron Radiation