Particle physics has been historically the ground of long-standing scientific challenges between the US and Europe, especially since the birth of the CERN laboratories in 1954. And in parallel, another challenge has kept the field alive and thriving for over half a century: the one between theoretical and experimental physics.
Alessandro Strumia, needs to have had a five minute talk
with the late great Ben Barres. Dr Barres was fond of telling a story where he
heard how much his work was “better than your sister’s”. Ben was a female to
male transguy. For those unfamiliar with the lingo started out a woman … then
transitioned to living as a man. This is a clumsy and non-PC way to put it I
know… but when preaching to people one must speak their language. Transgender
scientist can tell you all about how different gender-based stereotypes and
assumptions affect us.
The world of particle physics is in turmoil because of a presentation by Alessandro Strumia, an Italian phenomenologist, at CERN's "1st workshop on high energy theory and gender", and its aftermath.
By now the story has been echoed by many major newscasters around the world, and discussed in public and private forums, blogs, twitter feeds. I wanted to stay away from it here, mainly because it is a sensitive issue and the situation is still evolving, but after all, why not offer to you my personal pitch on the matter? Strumia, by the way, has been an occasional commenter to this blog - you can find some of his comments signed as "AS" in threads of past articles. Usually he makes good points here, as long as physics is the subject.
Casual reader, be warned - the contents of this article, specifically the second part of it, are highly volatile, speculative stuff. But hey, that is the stuff that dreams are made of. And I have one or two good reasons to dream on.
What is a photon jet? Despite their exotic name, photon jets are a well studied thing nowadays. The original studies were performed by experimentalists who aimed to test quantum chromodynamics: they used to spend their time discriminating prompt photon production in hadron collisions from backgrounds. I remember a lot of such studies were performed in the 80ies and 90ies by my CDF colleagues, especially within the "QCD working group".
The importance of the detection of single, isolated photons of high energy has risen enormously since then, given their role in the discovery of the Higgs boson. Photon jets are in fact the background to beat down if you want a neat peak of H --> γγ decays to pop out of a mass histogram constructed from events featuring two photon candidates.
The famous paradox 'which came first, the chicken or the egg?' was created by philosophers to discuss cause and effect. Since chickens lay eggs, and eggs produce chickens...you get the idea.
Since yesterday, and for almost a week, the literature festival in Mantova hosts "ScienceGround", a quite innovative initiative at the boundary between a science fair, a workshop, a library, and a place to hang around together and exchange ideas and information. The location is the beautiful hall of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, where a modular and dynamically configurable space has been set up.
Two teams have announced the fifth and most prominent way that the Higgs boson - "the God particle" as it was once called - decays into other particles called bottom quarks. This pathway is the last to be detected of the five main signature pathways that can identify the Higgs particle.
Quarks are tiny constituents of protons, which themselves are some of the building blocks of atoms. The bottom quark is one of the six types of quarks that make up the menagerie of particles in the "standard model" that explains matter and their interactions
On September 4 to 8 the city of Mantova, in northern Italy, will be brimming with writers and readers. The event is called "Festivaletteratura" and brings together authors and consumers of books of all kinds, in a week-long kermesse with interviews, debates, public lectures, and the like.
Version 2 of a thick textbook on particle and astroparticle physics is out, and you should have a look at it (well, at least if you're seriously interested in the topic!). The book, titled "Introduction to Particle and Astroparticle Physics" (not a very imaginative title, admittedly, but at least a faithful one) has a more descriptive subtitle: "Multimessenger Astronomy and its Particle Physics Foundations". It is authored by Alessandro de Angelis and Mario Pimenta, two acknowledged experts of the field.