Physics

By trapping a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla, roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet, in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBaCuO) superconductor, researchers not only beat the previous record by 0.4 Tesla, they harnessed  the equivalent of three tons of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. 


You wouldn't think that mechanical force, like kicking a ball in the World Cup or embossing letters on a credit card, could process nanoparticles more subtly than the most advanced chemistry but a current paper in Nature Communications describes a now patented method to use simple pressure — a kind of high-tech embossing — to produce finer and cleaner results in forming silver nanostructures than do chemical methods.

All without harmful byproducts to dispose of.


What is believed to be the smallest force ever measured, 42 yoctonewtons, has been detected by at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton and there are approximately 3 x 1023 yoctonewtons in one ounce of force.
 That's tiny. Using a combination of lasers and a unique optical trapping system that provides a cloud of ultracold atoms, the researchers detected the minute force.


The Higgs boson was detected using its decay into bosons but scientists from the CMS experiment at  the Large Hadron Collider have found evidence for the direct decay of the Higgs boson into fermions.

If the Higgs particle can decay into both bosons and fermions, we can exclude certain theories predicting that the Higgs particle does not couple to fermions. As a group of elementary particles, fermions form the matter while bosons act as force carriers between fermions.  


The Cornell arxiv is known to not accept preprints without a minimal screening of their contents. Still, I am sometimes led to wonder if a similar attention is paid to the liberty that authors at times take with the titles of their papers.

I am officially on vacation since yesterday, so you should not expect the list below to be a very comprehensive one. I just offer four examples of titles that might have been considered for some form of moral suasion toward the author by the arxiv managers, but apparently haven't. I just quote some titles below which struck me as kind of odd.
After great pains to simulate the foreground dust the Cosmic Microwave Background, gravitational wave result of BICEP2's B-Mode observations is still in question.  The simple fact is we do not really know what the foreground dust contamination really is right now.   The PLANCK collaboration will release that data, and sometime this year, their own map of CMB B Modes.   PLANCK's release of a real foreground dust map, not one based on a presentation slide, which is what the BICEP2 team first used, will settle this once and for all.    All of that said, the work of the BICEP2 team is good and worthy science, weather they are shown to be right, wrong, or only partially right  (i.e. if there is an effect but not as big as they claim).   
"Hell, if I could explain it to the average person, it wouldn't have been worth the Nobel prize. "

R. Feynman, People magazine, 1985

I sure cannot disagree more with Dick than on the above sentence !
The muon is a remarkable particle, and its characteristics continue to be of interest eighty years after its discovery despite the fact that we have measured them better than almost anything else around. So, for instance, the muon lifetime is known to better accuracy than that of any other unstable particle; and the muon anomalous magnetic moment remains at the top of our list of things to determine more precisely nowadays.
One and a half years ago ATLAS produced measurements for the Higgs boson mass using their selected sample of H->gamma gamma and H->ZZ*-> 4-lepton decay candidates, based on data collected in 2011 and 2012. That preliminary measurement was rather surprising as the two independent determinations appeared to disagree with one another at the 2.5-sigma level. The matter even spurred some online debate (see e.g. my blog entry) and a few gambling addicts waged $100 on the fact that those might be two distinct particle states.
With still three months to go and 663 teams participating, the Higgs challenge has not even entered a hot phase yet, and still there is a lot to watch in the leaderboard at the kaggle site.
In the last few days, there has been a total revolution in the leading position, and a considerable increase in the best scores. And Lubos Motl is again third (and he would be first if there had been no movement in the other positions), implicitly answering some detractors who wrote comments in a previous post on the matter here. See the standings below.