Physics

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. 
Do you know the works of Tim Blais, the guy behind "A Capella Science"? I sincerely hope you do, but otherwise this post is for you. Tim has a youtube page where he publishes his amazing works.

Tim sings modified lyrics of famous songs, and mixes them with multiple tracks of his own voice imitating each of the instruments of the underlying orchestra, or other choral voices. Until here you could well say there's nothing new under the Sun, except that Tim has been capable, through amazing mixing and editing skills as well as awesome vocal gift, of producing quite entertaining videos. But there is more.
The effects predicted by Einstein’s general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field have been validated near the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
Obscured by thick clouds of absorbing dust, the closest supermassive black hole to the Earth lies 26 000 light-years away at the centre of the Milky Way. This gravitational monster, which has a mass four million times that of the Sun, is surrounded by a small group of stars orbiting around it at high speed. This extreme environment — the strongest gravitational field in our galaxy — makes it the perfect place to explore gravitational physics, and particularly to test Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
[Eleni Petrakou, Ph.D., is a physicist and an independent researcher, besides being a longtime follower of this blog. She now has a newsletter of her own; it is high S/N stuff - check it out here. After a past collaboration with the CMS experiment, she has recently become intrigued with the dynamics of the Sun, and she developed a model to try and predict the solar cycle, a 11-year variation of the activity of sunspots and solar flares whose origin is still debated. I asked her to describe the matter for this blog, and the text below is the result - TD]


DESCRIBING THE SOLAR CYCLE
Everyone knows that water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms - H20.

But the story of water gets a lot more scientifically interesting the deeper you go. Water actually exists in two different forms, called isomers, at the molecular level.

They have almost identical physical properties, you can't tell the difference, but chemists can tell them apart by the relative orientation of the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms.  They are called ortho- or para-water depending on whether the spins are aligned in the same or opposite direction.

If you want to know how to do time travel, ask a mathematician. If you want to show how math is not science, but is instead the language of science, hand those equations to a physicist. 
What is spectroscopy ? 
(A) the observation of ghosts by infrared visors or other optical devices
(B) the study of excited states of matter through observation of energy emissions

If you answered (A), you are probably using a lousy internet search engine; and btw, you are rather dumb. Ghosts do not exist. 

Otherwise you are welcome to read on. We are, in fact, about to discuss a cutting-edge spectroscopy measurement, performed by the CMS experiment using lots of proton-proton collisions by the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC).