What is dark matter (DM)? This is one of the most pressing questions in fundamental science nowadays. We have observed that only one fifth of the matter that exists in the Universe clusters into stars and emits light - the rest appears to only interact gravitationally, producing phenomena we can study through the dynamics of galaxy rotation or by observing the deflection of light passing through it.
Nima Arkani-Hamed needs no introduction - he's a superstar theoretical physicist, and whenever he speaks, his colleagues listen - so much so that his seminars regularly overrun twice past their scheduled duration, without anybody blinking.
And today it's your lucky day (and mine), as you get to listen to a clear thinker explaining what really is the status of research in fundamental physics, and why it is actually extremely exciting, much to the discomfort of those who would prefer that public money were spent to reduce taxes (if you don't get the pun, please leave).
Today's news is that five months after Alessandro Strumia's controversial talk at a conference on "Theory and Gender", CERN decided to terminate the Italian theorist's status of "guest professor", effectively cutting its ties with him. The decision certainly affects the ability of Strumia to further his research in particle phenomenology, which centered on models of physics beyond the Standard Model, and is rather unprecedented.
As the regulars here already know, I am an employee of the INFN. This is the "Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare", which translates as "National institute for nuclear physics", a slight misnomer of historical origin, as the institute today actually centers its activities on SUB-nuclear physics - i.e. study of elementary particles (but nuclei are still one of the targets!).
The ATLAS and CMS collaborations released yesterday a joint document
where they discuss the combination of their measurements of the rate of production of single top quarks in proton-proton collisions delivered by the LHC collider. The exercise is not an idle one, as the physics behind the production processes is interesting, and its study as well as the precise comparison of experimental results and theory predictions improves our ability to predict other reactions, wherein we might find deviations from the currently accepted theory, the Standard Model.
I am very happy to report today that the CMS experiment just confirmed to be an excellent spectrometer - as good as they get, I would say - by discovering two new excited B hadrons. The field of heavy meson spectroscopy proves once again to be rich with new gems ready to be unearthed, as we collect more data and dig deeper. For such discoveries to be made, collecting as many proton-proton collisions as possible is in fact the decisive factor, along with following up good ideas and preserving our will to not leave any stone unturned.