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LHCb: B-meson anomaly persists

Today LHCb released a new analysis of the angular distribution in the B0 ? K0(892) (?K+?-) ?+ ?- decays. In this 4-body decay process, the angles between the direction of flight of all the different particles can be measured as a function of the invariant mass q^2 of the di-muon pair. Show More Summary

LAIH Luncheon with Jack Miles

(Click for larger view.) On Friday 6th March the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities (LAIH) was delighted to have our luncheon talk given by LAIH Fellow Jack Miles. He told us some of the story behind (and the making of) the Norton...Show More Summary

Ramping up to Run 2

When I have taught introductory electricity and magnetism for engineers and physics majors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I have used a textbook by Young and Freedman. (Wow, look at the price of that book! But that’s a topic for another day.) The first page of Chapter 28, “Sources of Magnetic Field,” features this photo: Read the full article

Favorite Quantum Physics in Fiction?

We’ll be accepting applications for The Schrödinger Sessions workshop at JQI through tomorrow. We already have 80-plus applicants for fewer than 20 planned spots, including a couple of authors I really, really like and some folks who have won awards, etc., so we’re going to have our work cut out for us picking the attendees……

On Being an Artwork

Back when we were discussing Will Self’s impression of CERN as a place where scientists had no interest in the important philosophical questions, I commented that part of the trouble was Self’s expectation that scientists who were expecting to give him a technical tour should be prepared to have an ad hoc philosophical discussion instead. Read the full article

New Lucasian Professor

After a significant delay, Cambridge University made known the name of Michael Green‘s successor at the Lucasian chair. The 19th Lucasian Professor is Michael Cates, Professor at University of Edinburgh and Fellow of the Royal Society. Professor Cates is worldwide known for his researches in the field of soft condensed matter. It is a well […]

Inside the CERN Control Centre

Take a tour of one of the most important rooms at CERN. CERN is more than just the Large Hadron Collider. A complex network of beam lines feeds particles from one accelerator to the next, gradually ramping up their energy along the way. Before...Show More Summary

Just How Idiotic Are GPAs?

Yesterday’s quick rant had the sligfhtly clickbait-y title “GPAs are Idiotic,” because, well, I’m trying to get people to read the blog, y’know. It’s a little hyperbolic, though, and wasn’t founded in anything but a vague intuition that the crude digitazation step involved in going from numerical course averages to letter grades then back to…

Experiments combine to find mass of Higgs

The CMS and ATLAS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider join forces to make the most precise measurement of the mass of the Higgs boson yet. On the dawn of the Large Hadron Collider restart, the CMS and ATLAS collaborations are still gleaning valuable information from the accelerator’s first run. Show More Summary

GPA’s Are Idiotic

I was thinking about something only tangentially related to grading, when it struck me that the way we go about generating student grade point averages is the kind of mind-bogglingly stupid system that requires lots of smart people working together to produce. Two very different groups of smart people, with very different ways of looking…

Upcoming Talks: New Paltz Tonight, Nashville Next Week

I keep forgetting to mention these, but I have two talks coming up: 1) Tonight, March 17, I’m talking about Eureka to the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. This is a version of the talk I gave in Bristol, UK over the summer, but with the soccer content replaced with…

Video contest: Rock the LHC!

Do you think the Large Hadron Collider rocks? I sure do, and as the collider rocks back to life in the coming weeks (more on that soon), you can celebrate by entering the Rock the LHC video contest. It’s simple: you make a short video about why you are excited about research at the LHC, Read the full article

STEM Gender Gaps and Draft Dodging

It’s always a pleasure to see former students doing well, and to that end, we invited one of my former thesis students, Mike Mastroianni, class of 2007, to give a colloquium talk last week in the department. Mike went to physics grad school for a couple of years after graduation, but decided he was more…

The Typing Cure

One of the things I miss about not being able to follow college basketball these days is that I don’t really know enough about the state of the game to understand Mark Titus’s columns at Grantland. They’re kind of sophomoric, but you know, a little of that is sometimes good, and I always enjoyed reading…

Jim Boeheim

It’s the absolute peak of college basketball season, and it still seems weird to be almost completely disconnected from the game. This is not, by the way, the result of any principled objection to the manifest hypocrisies of the NCAA, or anything like that, but a practical effect of having kids. If the tv is…

LA Marathon Route Panorama!

(Click for much larger view.) Sunday is the 30th LA Marathon. In celebration of this, giant spotlights were set up at various points along the route (from Dodger stadium all the way out to Santa Monica... roughly a station each mile, I read somewhere) and turned on last night for about an hour between around 9 and 10. Show More Summary

Is Higgs alone?

I am back after the announcement by CERN of the restart of LHC. On May this year we will have also the first collisions. This is great news and we hope for the best and the best here is just the breaking of the Standard Model. The Higgs in the title is not Professor Higgs […]

Weekend Plot: Fermi and more dwarfs

This weekend's plot comes from the recent paper of the Fermi collaboration: It shows the limits on the cross section of dark matter annihilation into tau lepton pairs. The limits are obtained from gamma-ray observations of 15 dwarf galaxies during 6 years. Show More Summary

Terry Pratchett, RIP

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of some mind-boggling number of books, mostly the comic-fantasy Discworld series, died yesterday. He had been diagnosed with a kind of early-onset Alzheimer’s back in 2007, a particularly cruel fate for a writer, but faced it with an impressive degree of grace, and kept writing almost to the end. And, indeed,…

Einstein's most famous equation

You’ve heard of Einstein’s E=mc 2, but what does it mean? With Einstein’s birthday just around the corner on March 14 (which also happens to be Pi Day), it seems appropriate to take a fresh look at one of his biggest accomplishments with a short video. In 1905, Einstein published four papers that radically changed how we look at the world around us. Show More Summary

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