Physics

The popular description of virtual particles “borrowing” energy and popping in and out of existence all the time is very misleading. There are no such processes “really happening” in the way of a naïve, classically mechanistic physicalism. Instead, all potential partial processes consistent with the observations are together what the observation supervenes on.

Just a short entry to mention that the blog of my colleague Michael Schmitt, a professor at Northwestern University and a member of the CMS collaboration, is as active as ever, with several very interesting and well-written pieces recently published:
The Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratories in Geneva is currently in shutdown, finalizing the upgrades that will allow it to restart next year at the  centre-of-mass energy of 13 TeV - over 60% more than the last 8 TeV run. ATLAS and CMS have collected no more proton-proton collisions since almost two years ago; yet the collaborations are as busy as ever producing physics results from the analysis of the 2012 data.

Rather than focusing on any single result, below I give some highlights of the most recent publications by CMS. Another post will discuss ATLAS results in a few days.
"Two recent results from other experiments add to the excitement of Run II. The results from Brookhaven's g-minus-two experiments with muons have a straightforward interpretation as signs of supersymmetry. The increasingly interesting results from BABAR at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center add to the importance of B physics in Run II, and also suggest new physics. I will be shocked and disappointed if we don't have at least one major discovery."
I am spending a few days in Aix Les Bains, a pleasant lakeside resort in the French southwest, to follow the works of the second ECFA workshop, titled "High-Luminosity LHC". ECFA stands for "European Committee for Future Accelerators" but this particular workshop is indeed centred on the future of the LHC, despite the fact that there are at present at least half a dozen international efforts toward the design of more powerful hadron colliders, more precise linear electron-positron colliders, or still other solutions.

       For the sake of clarity, let us consider the two widely known, nonsensical scenarios: The first is one that many scientists charge ‘idealist’ philosophers with, although no thinker beyond the dorm room bong level holds this view: All is just a dream and there is no physical world. The second nonsensical scenario is that a physical world “really exists independently out there” and it happens to be the case that consciousness arises in it although it could have conceivably been otherwise, a physical universe just being without consciousness.

Yesterday the ATLAS collaboration published the results of a new search for dark matter particles produced in association with heavy quarks by proton-proton collisions at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Not seeing a signal, ATLAS produced very tight upper limits on the cross section for interactions of the tentative dark matter particle with nucleons, which is the common quantity on which dark matter search results are reported. The cross section is in fact directly proportional to the rate at which one would expact to see the hypothetical particle scatter off ordinary matter, which is what one directly looks for in many of today's dark matte search experiments.
The Nobel Committee has asked that the gents who won for blue LED's immediately surrender their awards to Stephen Hawking.  Just Kidding, but the confirmation of Hawking radiation by the work of Jeff Steinhauer is of an order of importance so stupendous that if such a line flashed across the newswires I'd want to believe it!  So what's the big deal about Hawking radiation anyway? 
Do you remember the E-Cat ? That is an acronym for "energy catalyzer", the device invented by the Italian philosopher Andrea Rossi. The E-Cat is claimed to produce nuclear energy through the heating of a "secret" powder made up of nichel, hydrogen, and lithium plus some additives. A new chapter was added to the saga of the E-Cat this week, with the publication of a new study by an allegedly independent group of Italian and Swedish researchers.

No one is seriously expecting to overturn Einstein's idea of time dilation, and instead the goal is often to find the possible limits. That means looking for deviations in experiments with increasing precision or under extreme conditions.