Physics

Our universe is eternal, expanding indefinitely, and not threatened by any form of 'heath death'. All evidence points into this direction. In fact, at the end of the nineteenth century Ludwig Boltzmann had collected all the evidence to draw such conclusions. His consistent reasoning on how to render the reversible laws of physics compatible with the second law of thermodynamics brought him close, but he failed to make the final decisive steps.

Ok, I realize that at Boltzmann's time our knowledge of the universe didn't stretch beyond the Milky Way, the island of stars that we inhabit. And yes, I admit reasoning here with the benefit of a heap of hindsight. But even now, in the twenty-first century, this hindsight is apparently not distributed uniformly.

The confirmation of the Higgs boson and what it can tell us about the origins of mass is getting all of the attention but there are scientific mysteries about less-understood forces that may also be keys to figuring out natural laws.

Among these is quantum turbulence, the chaotic motion - at very high rates - of fluids that exist at temperatures close to zero. Observers as far back as Leonardo da Vinci have studied turbulence, a complex state of fluid motion. He observed that water falling into a pond creates eddies of motion, thus realizing that the motion of water shaped the landscape.


Identifying the full extent of the nuclear landscape, essentially how many isotopes exist, is vital for nuclear physics.

There is a lot left to learn. Beyond the stable nuclei that we find on Earth, there are many unstable nuclei that are formed in stellar events such as supernovae, but which are short-lived. There is a limit to how many protons and neutrons a nucleus can hold – too many and the excess will literally ‘pop out’. These limits are known as the proton and neutron ‘drip lines’.

Although these drip lines can be calculated, getting experiments to agree is another issue. Even finding them experimentally can be a difficult prospect. 
Do BICEP2 data provide a proof of cosmic inflation? As early as March 17, a Stanford report asserted « New evidence from space supports Stanford physicist's theory of how universe began ».

A quasiparticle called the exciton is responsible for the transfer of energy within devices, such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits, and has been understood for decades, but exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed.


Below is a clip from a chapter of my book where I describe the story of the silicon microvertex detector of the CDF experiment. CDF collected proton-antiproton collisions from the Tevatron collider in 1985, 1987-88, 1992-96, and 2001-2011. Run 1A occurred in 1992, and it featured for the first time in a hadron collider a silicon strip detector, the SVX. The SVX would prove crucial for the discovery of the top quark.

The existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that cannot be classified within the traditional quark model - has been confirmed in a forthcoming article prepared by the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) Collaboration at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

Quarks are hard, point-like objects found within the nucleus of an atom. When quarks combine in threes, they form compound particles known as baryons. Protons are probably the best-known baryons. Sometimes, quarks interact with corresponding anti-particles (i.e., anti-quarks), which have the same mass but opposite charges. When this happens, they form mesons. These compounds often turn up in the decay of heavy man-made particles, such as those in particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, and cosmic rays.


U.C. Santa Barbara physicist Tarun Grover says he has definitive mathematical evidence for supersymmetry in a condensed matter system. Sought after in the realm of subatomic particles by physicists for several decades, supersymmetry describes a unique relationship between particles.

The fundamental constituents of matter — electrons, quarks and their relatives — are fermions. The particles associated with fundamental forces are called bosons. Several decades ago, physicists hypothesized that every type of particle in the Standard Model of particle physics, a theory that captures the dynamics of known subatomic particles, has one or more superpartners — other types of particles that share many of the same properties but differ in a crucial way.


Yesterday I was in Rome, at a workshop organized by the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), titled "What Next". The event was meant to discuss the plan for basic research in fundamental physics and astrophysics beyond the next decade or so, given the input we have and the input we might collect in the next few years at accelerators and other facilities.

In February, the University of California, Los Angeles held its 11th Symposium on Sources and Detection of Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe - "Dark Matter 2014" was aimed at discussing the latest progress in the quest to identify dark matter, the umbrella term for the unknown stuff that makes up more than a quarter of the universe yet remains a mystery.

So where does the hunt stand? Between sessions, three leading physicists at the conference spent an hour discussing the search for dark matter on several fronts.