Okay, this one was not about the umpteenth statistical fluctuation, hopelessly believed by somebody to be the start of a new era in particle physics. It's gotten too easy to place and win bets like that - the chance that the Standard Model breaks down due to some unexpected, uncalled-for resonance is so tiny that any bet against it is a safe one. And indeed I have won three bets of that kind so far (and cashed 1200 dollars and a bottle of excellent wine); plus, a fourth (for $100) is going to be payable soon.
After decades of theoretical studies and experimental measurements, forty years ago particle physicists managed to construct a very successful theory, one which describes with great accuracy the dynamics of subnuclear particles. This theory is now universally known as the Standard Model of particle physics. Since then, physicists have invested enormous efforts in the attempt of breaking it down.
It is not a contradiction: our understanding of the physical world progresses as we construct a progressively more refined mathematical representation of reality. Often this is done by adding more detail to an existing framework, but in some cases a complete overhaul is needed. And we appear to be in that situation with the Standard Model.
Expectations are rising for the 2016 run of the Large Hadron Collider. The machine has restarted colliding protons in the cores of ATLAS and CMS, where finally the reality of the tantalizing 750 GeV diphoton bumps seen by the two experiments in their Run 1 and 2015 data *will* be assessed one way or the other.
The flurry of papers discussing possible interpretations of the observed effect, first reported last December during a data jamboree at CERN, has slightly reduced in intensity but is still going rather strong in an absolute sense. Over 300 phenomenological interpretations have been published on the preprint Arxiv (but I wonder how many will end up with a publication on a refereed journal ? Maybe just a handful).
Funny how the internet gives you access to information on your own stuff before you know it. The book I have written, "Anomaly!", is still in production (we have not yet even finalized the book cover), and yet you can even apparently buy a copy already, at the World Scientific site. What is funny is that I discovered the page with the book data by chance, browsing through other books to get inspiration!
My book "Anomaly! - Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab" is in production at World Scientific, with an expected publication date somewhere in August or September. I have explained what this work is about in previous posts, but maybe what I can do here is to just paste here the few lines of description that have been put together for the back cover:
It's been a while since the last time I talked about myself in this column. I think that a blog must contain personal information to be interesting - otherwise why sticking around, when there's tons of good (yes, also bad) information in the web ? But here you can get some particle physics information mixed in with things that, although you need not know or care about, it's fun to share and comment on. Or at least I hope it's so, for the few of you who read this.
Long-time readers of this blog know that one of the recurrent topics has always been the precision measurement of the top quark mass. The reason for this is at least three-fold.
One, I started my career in experimental HEP with searches and measurements of the top quark properties, and the mass was one of the parameters I spent quite some time working on.
By Gabriel Popkin, Inside Science -- When leaders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, announced in February the first-ever direct detection of a gravitational wave, astrophysicists Scott Ransom from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Andrea Lommen at Franklin and Marshall University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had mixed feelings.
Technically it also creates a diboson final state - two photons - but no, here I am not going to talk about the tentative new particle of which ATLAS and CMS continue to see hints in their data, at a mass of 750 GeV and with characteristics that increasingly resemble those of a heavy higgs boson. Oh, see - I am doing precisely that. It is admittedly hard not to speak of that thing nowadays, but I will insist, as I think it is too good to be true, and so it must be false.
Leonard: "The holographic principle suggests that what we all experience every day in three dimensions may really just be information on a surface located at the farthest reaches of our cosmos. So it's possible that our lives are really just acting out a painting on the largest canvas in the universe."
Is our universe holographic? Is what is happening in the universe somehow encoded on its boundary? Are we 3D renderings of some distant 2D image? Black hole physics certainly suggests so. But how does such an encoding work? Can we visualize a system that "just acts out" a painting on its boundary?