Physics

You are the first to arrive to a dinner party and must choose the table where to sit, relying on your past experience of how handsome members of the opposite sex (you're straight) usually choose their seat. You need to buy stocks based on past performances and trends. You travel to some distant location and would like to know what's the weather like there, but there is no forecast for that particular place. What do you do ?

Observations with the 1.6-meter telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in California, the most powerful ground-based instrument dedicated to studying the Sun, have resulted in the highest- resolution solar observations ever made.


They key issues in the discussion of the BICEP2 result center around the way BICEP2 accounted for dust in the foreground.  They based their analysis on a presentation graphic which was shown at the April APS conference of 2013.  This may have been a mistake.  In the defense of the BICEP2 team, that graphic was the best data available at the time.  A .fits file of this particular data from PLANCK did not exist yet. Never the less, it leads to reasonable questions about the validity of the result.
"After the 1974 London Conference, with its strong confirmation of the quark model, a general change of view developed with regard to the structure of hadrons. [...] the quark structure of hadrons became the dominant view for developing theory and planning experiments. A crucial element of this change was the general acceptance of QCD, which eliminated the last paradox, namely, why are there no free quarks ? The conjectured infrared slavery mechanism of QCD provided a reason to accept quarks as physical constituents without demanding the existence of free quarks. The asymptotic freedom property of QCD also provided a ready explanation of scaling [...].
One of the nice details lost in the big picture of the Higgs boson discovery of 2012 is that a significant part of the signal put in evidence by ATLAS and CMS is produced by a very special kind of interactions between the protons accelerated by the LHC. These are "vector boson fusion" processes, whereby it is not the protons or its constituents that come in direct contact, but rather, each proton emits a W boson, and it is the latter pair which fuse together, give rise to a Higgs particle.
I reported here a few days ago about a very nice challenge issued by the ATLAS experiment: find Higgs boson decays to tau lepton pairs in a sample containing signal as well as background events, using a training sample with correct signal and background labels per each event.

The challenge consists of solving a typical classification problem in a highly multidimensional space (30 dimensions) better than all other participants - the metric to judge being an "approximate median significance" of the subset of events that the user classifies as "signal". This is given by the formula

AMS = sqrt {2 * [(s+b+10) * log(1 + s/(b+10)) - s] }
I am spending the week in the pleasant resort of La Biodola, in the Elba island. Elba is a beautiful island just off the coast of Tuscany. Here Napoleon was exiled after his abdication in 1814 (he arrived here on May 30th). Exactly 200 years later, 100 Italian researchers have decided to exile themselves here to discuss the future 10 years of accelerator-based experiments, to understand where to "put their money", or better their research activities and efforts.
The laws of physics are absolute - in theory.  And with an exception. So absolute doesn't always mean what we think it means.

How heat and temperature related to energy, the laws of thermodynamics, seem to violate the laws of physics theoretically. But now they theoretically don't.

A paper recently published in EPJ B discussed a theoretical model of the environment's influence on a particle does not violate the third law of thermodynamics, despite appearances to the contrary. These findings are relevant for systems at the micro or nanometer scale that are difficult to decouple from the heat or the quantum effects exerted by their environment.

Some Sun-like stars are 'earth-eaters.' During their development they ingest large amounts of the rocky material from which 'terrestrial' planets like Earth, Mars and Venus are made.

Trey Mack, a graduate student in astronomy at Vanderbilt University, has developed a model that estimates the effect that such a diet has on a star's chemical composition and has used it to analyze a pair of twin stars which both have their own planets.


I came to know through a social network (I have many colleagues as friends there, and they usually post more useful stuff than cute kittens) that ATLAS has launched a very intriguing competition. One you can participate to, if you have some programming skills; no knowledge of particle physics is needed.

The idea is to ask you to classify as signal (Higgs decay to tau lepton pairs, if you really want to know!) or background (anything that looks similar to it but involves no Higgs boson) a set of 550,000 events, for each of which ATLAS gives you 30 kinematical quantities measured in the detector (it is a simulation, but it's a pretty good approximation of reality).