Physical Sciences

It was nice to find John Duffield's review of my book "Anomaly! Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab" in the Amazon site today.
An experiment designed to study neutrinos at the Gran Sasso Laboratories in Italy is under attack by populistic media. Why should you care? Because it's a glaring example of the challenges we face in the XXI century in our attempt to foster the progress of the human race.
What is a neutrino? Nothing - it's a particle as close to nothing as you can imagine. Almost massless, almost perfectly non-interacting, and yet incredibly mysterious and the key to the solution of many riddles in fundamental physics and cosmology. But it's really nothing you should worry about, or care about, if you want to lead your life oblivious of the intricacies of subnuclear physics. Which is fine of course - unless you try to use your ignorance to stop progress.

I have had lots of questions about this today because of a poorly researched Daily Star sensationalist article based on a many years out of date NASA press release. As usual with Google News this nonsense has gone right to the top of its search results. They really do need to fix this! 

Anyway I am writing this in the hope that it gets into Google News and helps some of the people getting scared by this story. So far I can't see any debunking articles there and the Science 2.0 articles do often get placed high in Google News.

Phil Plait of "Bad Astronomer" fame has a few choice words about this "tabloid fish-wrapper" - in case you don't get it, newspapers are often used to wrap fish and chips - he's suggesting that's all it is good for.

Following the appearance of Kent Staley's review of my book "Anomaly!" in the November 2017 issue of Physics Today, the online site of the magazine offers, starting today, an interview with yours truly. I think the piece is quite readable and I encourage you to give it a look. Here I only quote a couple of passages for the laziest readers.
Another quite positive review of my book "Anomaly! Collider Physics and the Quest for New Phenomena at Fermilab"  (which these days is 40% off at the World Scientific site I am linking) has appeared on Physics Today this month.

Stephen Hawking tends to exaggerate, using hyperbole - exaggerations for emotional effect. In this talk he takes our exponential population growth and extrapolates it forwards to 2600 and predicts that human beings will cover the globe shoulder to shoulder and that our electricity consumption will turn the surface of Earth red hot through the waste heat. Stephen Hawking hasn't taken account of the fact that our exponential growth has stopped. The same number of children were born in 2005 as in 2017 and our population is currently growing due to increasing lifespans, not through exponential growth. The middle of the range estimate is for it to level off at around 11 billion by 2100.. This story is scaring people and that's my motive for debunking it here. 

Writing a serious review of research in particle physics is a refreshing job - all the things that you already knew on that specific topic once sat on a fuzzy cloud somewhere in your brain, and now find their place in a tidily organized space, with clear interdependence among them. That's what I am experiencing as I progress with a 60-pageish thing on hadron collider searches for diboson resonances, which will appear sometime next year in a very high impact factor journal.
Starting Science 2.0 in 2006, I was as wide-eyed as anyone new to media could be.  My first month I was sure we were about to discover life on other planets, cancer was going to be cured, chocolate was healthy, resveratrol was the one polyphenol to rule them all. Oh, and academic scientists were going to rush to write for the public because I loved science. (1) 
The Great Pyramid, built under the command of the Pharaoh Cheops (who died around 2483 B.C.), retains a lot of mysteries. We don't know how it was built, which has led to any number of conspiracy stories about alien technology and other things.

When we search the cosmos for evidence we are not the first advanced life form, we look for things that we could share in common. This anthropomorphism is common in culture, in everything from science studies to science-fiction. And it may not be wrong.

Assuming we have any extra-terrestrial neighbors, far less popular is the idea that we will be the advanced civilization new ones are terrified about being invaded by, they will likely have undergone natural selection just like we did. In the video game Spore, almost everyone evolved creatures that were purple and had huge eyes, despite trying to do things randomly, and that may happen on other planets also.