Physics

As explained in the previous installment of this series, these questions are a warm-up for my younger colleagues, who will in two months have to pass a tough exam to become INFN researchers.
By the way, when I wrote the first question yesterday I thought I would not need to explain it in detail, but it just occurred to me that a disclaimer would be useful. Here it is:
Today I wish to start a series of posts that are supposed to help my younger colleagues who will, in two months from now, compete for a position as INFN research scientists. 
The INFN has opened 73 new positions and the selection includes two written exams besides an evaluation of titles and an oral colloquium. The rules also say that the candidates will have to pass the written exams with a score of at least 140/200 on each, in order to access the oral colloquium. Of course, no information is given on how the tests will be graded, so 140 over 200 does not really mean much at this point.

The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment, which operates beneath a mile of rock at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has completed its search for the missing matter of the universe yielding no trace of a dark matter particle. 

LUX's extreme sensitivity makes the team confident that if dark matter particles had interacted with the LUX's xenon target, the detector would almost certainly have seen them. In a 'what you don't find is important also' sense, these new limits on dark matter detection will allow scientists to eliminate many potential models for dark matter particles. 


My book "Anomaly! - Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab" is slowly getting its finishing touches, as the second round of proofreading draws to a close. The book is scheduled to appear in bookstores on November 5th, and it makes sense to start planning some events for its presentation.
One such event will take place at the CERN library on November 29th, at 4PM. I am told that CERN already ordered the book to sell it in its bookshop, so it will be good to present the work to the community there - after all, the book is for everybody but I expect that it can be of higher interest to scientists and people in some way connected to research in High-Energy physics.
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Quantum Mechanics Started with Semi-Empirical Phenomenology –  Important Lesson

Gavin Salam's talk at the "Altarelli Memorial" session of the ICNFP 2016 conference, which is presently taking place in Kolimbari (Crete), was very interesting and I wish to report here about it. 
Is the expansion of the Universe a natural effect due to the internal dynamical properties of the physical vacuum? Can one rule out the possibility that the vacuum is unstable (or metastable) and naturally expands emitting conventional matter and energy similarly to a form of latent heat? Such a scenario based on new physics would deeply transform Cosmology and, in particular, make useless the notion of dark energy as well as the standard cosmological constant.

The instability (or metastability) considered here concerns the cosmic size of the physical vacuum. It is assumed that the vacuum "likes" to expand, expands permanently and releases matter and energy as it expands. How to check such a possible situation, or the contrary?

The concept origin of space-time itself as a emergent property of a collection of fundamentally quantum systems without a notion of space-time is not new. When this is done usually certain presuppositions are made about the nature of the underlying quantum system. In a recent paper posted to the arXiv by scientist out of Cal Tech develop aversion of this approach in which noting is assumed about the quantum system at the smallest scale. (Chun Jun Cao, 2016)

I am spending a week in Kolimbari, a nice seaside place in western Crete. Here the fifth International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics is being held in the Orthodox Academy of Crete. The conference gathers together high-energy experimentalists and theorists, nuclear physicists, neutrino physicists, and also other specialists. 
As I am not talking this year (I am here because I am co-organizing a mini-workshop on Higgs physics), I thought it was a good idea to ask the organizers if they needed help, and I got the task of organizing the poster selection committee. 26 posters have been presented, and will be on display tomorrow evening. We will have to select the best ones, whose authors will win a prize.

Diving deep into the foundations of physical reality requires a deep dive into advanced mathematics. Usually this goes together with formulas or other descriptions that are incomprehensible to most people.