By Gabriel Popkin, Inside Science
(Inside Science) -- For all the progress physicists have made in figuring out the universe, they still don't know some pretty basic things. Why, for example, do fundamental particles possess the specific values of mass that they have? Presently, physicists have no explanation for this and similar questions.
This week I was traveling in Belgium so my blogging activities have been scarce. Back home, I will resume with serious articles soon (with the XVI Neutrino Telescopes conference next week, there will be a lot to report on!). In the meantime, here's a list of short news you might care about as an observer of progress in particle physics research and related topics.
It has long been accepted that large power output requires big-sized fusion reactors. But, based on calculations performed on beta plasma parameter1 by researchers from Tokamak Energy, UK, a company that builds compact tokamaks, size is not a significant issue when it comes to Fusion Power Gain2.
There is apossiblity of building lower power, smaller and cheaper fusion reactors than currently planned.
US firm, Lockheed Martin, has already declared its plan to build a compact fusion reactor the size of a truck by 2019. After this research by Tokamak Energy, more such projects may be possible.
An international team of physicists from Russia and Germany have successfully applied a theory from 2009 to cool a relatively large macroscopic mirror (1.2 millimeters across) with lower fundamental frequency (~136 kHz) from room temperature to 126 mK.
The team applied a novel use of quantum noise, which usually contributes to temperature raise. But destructive interference of noise on its path to the mirror prevented its heating while allowing for energy loss, thereby creating a stronger cooling effect.
The paper to read today is one from the ATLAS collaboration at the CERN Large Hadron Collider -my competitors, as I work for the other experiment across the ring, CMS. ATLAS has just produced a new article which describes the search for the CP-odd A boson, a particle which arises in Supersymmetry as well as in more generic extensions of the Standard Model called "two-higgs doublet models". What are these ?
Wikipedia's definition of energy
can only be qualified as useless. Here is mine:
A bird that flies, a molecule in a gas possess energy since they move: this is kinetic
A stone you hold still in your hand could
move and therefore acquire kinetic energy if you let it fall: this is potential
All forms of energy can transform into each other, their sum remaining always the same: this is the principle of conservation
"1. Interaction with matter changes the neutrino mixing and effective mass splitting in a way that depends on the mass hierarchy. Consequently, results of oscillations and flavor conversion are different for the two hierarchies.
2. Sensitivity to the mass hierarchy appears whenever the matter effect on the 1-3 mixing and mass splitting becomes substantial. This happens in supernovae in large energy range, and in the matter of the Earth.[...]
4. Multi-megaton scale under ice (water) atmospheric neutrino detectors with low energy threshold (2-3 GeV) may establish mass hierarchy with (3-10)σ confidence level in few years. [...]
Modern physics is not accidentally relativistic and quantum, or in other words, Einstein-relative as well as Everett-relative (Bell-violating Everett-relativity is the very core of quantum mechanics!). Modern physics becomes ever more relativistic still today, and description relativity has revolutionized fundamental physics (see string theory dualities, Maldacena conjecture, black hole complementarity/holography, and so on). Why? Because we must take the observer’s perspective, and this means the describer’s perspective, ever more into account.
Less than three weeks separate us from the XVI Neutrino Telescopes
, a very interesting conference held in Venice every two years. The physics of neutrinos is a very special niche in the realm of particle physics, one not devoid of cunning experimental techniques, brilliant theoretical ideas, and offering possible avenues to discover new physics. Hence I am quite happy to be attending the event, from where I will also be blogging (hopefully with the help of a few students in Padova).(NB this article, as others with neutrinos as a subject for the next month or so, appears also in the conference blog).
On Friday I traveled to Belluno, a town just south of the north-eastern Italian alps, to give a lecture on particle physics to high-school students for the "International Masterclasses
". This was the umpteenth time that I gave more or less the same talk in the last decade or so; but it's not my fault, as particle physics has changed very little in the meantime. Yes, we discovered the Higgs boson, and yes, we excluded many possible extensions of the standard model. But the one-line summary remains the same: we continue to seek, but are not quite sure we'll find, a hint of what lies beyond.