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Higgs factory proposed for Beijing

Scientists in China hope to build a successor to the Large Hadron Collider—and take a new place on the international particle physics stage. The discovery of the Higgs boson was one of the biggest moments in the history of particle physics. Show More Summary

Physicists launch fight to make data more important than theory

Enough is enough, say the physicists who have come together to renew respect for experimental evidence and work on alternatives to ever more contrived theory

Quantum query complexity: the other shoe drops

Two weeks ago I blogged about a breakthrough in query complexity: namely, the refutation by Ambainis et al. of a whole slew of conjectures that had stood for decades (and that I mostly believed, and that had helped draw me into theoretical computer science as a teenager) about the largest possible gaps between various complexity […]

How do you solve a puzzle like neutrinos?

When it comes to studying particles that zip through matter as though it weren’t even there, you use every method you can think of. Sam Zeller sounds borderline embarrassed by scientists’ lack of understanding of neutrinos—particularly how much mass they have. “I think it’s a pretty sad thing that we don’t know,” she says. Show More Summary

Education and “Internet Time”

I saw this link on techcrunch go by discussing the state of venture capital in the education sector. There is a general feeling, at least in the article, that when dealing with universities that things are not moving at internet speed: “The challenge is, in general, education is a pretty slow to move category, particularly […]

Sit down and relaxion

New ideas are rare in particle physics these days. Solutions to the naturalness problem of the Higgs mass are true collector's items. For these reasons, the new mechanism addressing the naturalness problem via cosmological relaxation have stirred a lot of interest in the community. Show More Summary

Summer Break

Heading out soon for summer vacation travels, this time to Ireland and France, back in about two weeks. While away comments will be shut off. My vacation will spare readers commentary on the rest of the Strings 2015 talks, which … Continue reading ?


So far, the Summer has not been as brutal in the garden as it was last year. Let's hope that continues. I think that late rain we had last month (or earlier this month?) helped my later planting get a good start too. This snap of a sunflower...Show More Summary

On Scientific Conferences, and Making Them Better

I’ve been doing a bunch of conferencing recently, what with DAMOP a few weeks ago and then Convergence last week. This prompted me to write up a couple of posts about conference-related things, which I posted over at Forbes. These were apparently a pretty bad fit for the folks reading over there, as they’ve gotten…

What can happen in 1 second?

The leap second added to time on 30 June 2015 got us thinking – some pretty big stuff only takes a second Read more: "Get ready for the leap second – it could be the last one ever"

Most Played Songs Meme

This went around a different corner of my social-media universe while I was off in Waterloo, away from my iTunes. I was curious about it, though, so looked at the contents of the “25 Most Played” playlist, and having done that, I might as well post them here (the number in parentheses is the number…

Celebrate gay marriage—and its 2065 equivalent

Yesterday was a historic day for the United States, and I was as delighted as everyone else I know.  I’ve supported gay marriage since the mid-1990s, when as a teenager, I read Andrew Hodges’ classic biography of Alan Turing, and burned with white-hot rage at Turing’s treatment.  In the world he was born into—our world, […]

Course Report: Intro Mechanics Spring 2015

I’ve been pretty quiet about educational matters of late, for the simple reason that I was too busy teaching to say much. The dust having settled a bit, though, I thought I would put some notes here about what I did this past term, and what worked. I had two sections of the introductory Newtonian…


Yesterday, an interesting thing happened while I was out in my neighbourhood walking my son for a good hour or more (covered, in a stroller - I was hoping he'd get some sleep), visiting various shops, running errands. Before describing it, I offer two bits of background information as (possibly relevant?) context. Show More Summary

My Week in Waterloo

I spent the last few days in Ontario, attending the Convergence meeting at the Perimeter Institute. This brought a bunch of Perimeter alumni and other big names together for a series of talks and discussions about the current state and future course of physics. My role at this was basically to impersonate a journalist, and…

Exploring dark energy with robots

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument will produce a 3-D space map using a ‘hive’ of robots. Five thousand pencil-shaped robots, densely nested in a metal hive, whir to life with a precise, dizzying choreography. Small U-shaped heads...Show More Summary

“Can Quantum Computing Reveal the True Meaning of Quantum Mechanics?”

I now have a 3500-word post on that question up at NOVA’s “Nature of Reality” blog.  If you’ve been reading Shtetl-Optimized religiously for the past decade (why?), there won’t be much new to you there, but if not, well, I hope you like it!  Comments are welcome, either here or there.  Thanks so much to Kate Becker at NOVA for […]

Speed Dating for Science!

Last night was amusing. I was at the YouTubeLA space with 6 other scientists from various fields, engaging with an audience of writers and other creators for YouTube, TV, film, etc. It was an event hosted by the Science and Entertainment...Show More Summary

Seeing in gamma rays

The latest sky maps produced by Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope combine seven years of observations. Maps from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope literally show the universe in a different light. Today Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT)...Show More Summary

Bringing neutrino research back to India

The India-based Neutrino Observatory will provide a home base for Indian particle physicists. Pottipuram, a village in southern India, is mostly known for its farming. Goats graze on the mountains and fields yield modest harvests ofShow More Summary

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