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Ten unusual detector materials

This article appeared in symmetry on Feb. 17, 2015. Hans had been waiting in the darkened room for 45 minutes. It was a dull part of his day, but acclimating his eyes was a necessary part of his experiment—counting faint sparkles of light caused by alpha particles deflecting off a thin metal foil. The experiment Read the full article

Twitter, Planck et les supernovae

Matthieu Roman est un jeune chercheur CNRS à Paris, tout à, fait novice sur la twittosphère. Il nous raconte comment il est en pourtant arrivé à twitter « en direct de son labo » pendant une semaine. Au programme : des échanges à bâton rompu à propos de l’expérience Planck, des supernovae ou l’énergie noire, Read the full article

Ownership of the Means of Adjudication

Back on Thursday when I was waiting to be annoyed by a speech, one of the ways I passed time was reading stuff on my phone, which included This Grantland piece about Charles Barkley and “advanced stats”. In it, Bryan Curtis makes the argument that while Barkley’s recent comments disparaging statistical tools seem at first…

This Is Not What I Want As a Defense of “The Humanities”

Yesterday was Founders Day at Union, celebrating the 220th anniversary of the granting of a charter for the college. The name of the event always carries a sort of British-boarding-school air for me, and never fails to earworm me with a very particular rugby song, but really it’s just one of those formal-procession-and-big-speaker events that…

In Which I Am Outwitted by a Six-Year-Old

SteelyKid has developed a habit of not answering questions, whether because she’s genuinely zoning out, or just not acknowledging adults, it’s not clear. (She’s going to be a real joy when she’s a teenager, I can tell…) In retaliation, I’ve started giving imaginary answers for her, which generall snaps her out of it, but I’ve…

Physics in fast-forward

During their first run, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider rediscovered 50 years' worth of physics research in a single month. In 2010, the brand-spanking-new CMS and ATLAS detectors started taking data for the first time. ButShow More Summary

Video: LHC experiments prep for restart

Engineers and technicians have begun to close experiments in preparation for the next run. The LHC is preparing to restart at almost double the collision energy of its previous run. The new energy will allow physicists to check previously...Show More Summary

From the Standard Model to space

A group of scientists who started at particle physics experiments move their careers to the final frontier. As a member of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, Ryan Rios spent 2007 to 2012 surrounded by fellow physicists. Now,...Show More Summary

How can we fight online shaming campaigns?

Longtime friend and colleague Boaz Barak sent me a fascinating New York Times Magazine article that profiles people who lost their jobs or otherwise had their lives ruined, because of a single remark that then got amplified a trillionfold in importance by social media.  (The author, Jon Ronson, also has a forthcoming book on the topic.)  The article opens with Justine […]

Ceiba Speciosa

Saw all the fluffy stuff on the ground. Took me a while to "cotton on" and look up: (ceiba speciosa.. "silk floss" tree. click for larger view.) -cvj Click to continue reading this post ?

Many Worlds Are Never Exhausted

There have been some good comments on last week’s post about the Many-Worlds Interpretation, which I find a little surprising, as it was thrown together very quickly and kind of rant-y on my part, because I was annoyed by the tone of the original Phillip Ball article. (His follow-up hasn’t helped that…) But then maybe…

Read the Whole Thing

Jon “Men Who Stare at Goats” Ronson has a new book coming out, and has been promoting it with excerpts in major newspapers, most notably the New York Times Magazine and the Guardian. In these, he tracks down people whose lives were wrecked by massive public shaming campaigns over idiotic things they wrote on social…

Persistent troubles with bees

No, I still have nothing to say about colony collapse disorder... this blog will stick to physics for at least 2 more years. This is an update on the anomalies in B decays reported by the LHCbee experiment. The two most important ones...Show More Summary

Quick Links

The LHC is getting close to the point where it can be restarted with a 6.5 TeV beam energy. Latest news here, schedule here. Plan is for a sector test late next week (beam in part of the machine), beam … Continue reading ?

Division of Labor in Science Communication

Paige Brown Jarreau, who blogs at From the Lab Bench is in the throes of writing her dissertation about science blogging, and plowing through a lot of interview data. She’s sharing some of the process on the blog, and a lot more on Twitter, where it’s prompted a good deal of discussion. One of the…

Eureka at BookLab

There’s a new-ish book review podcast covering pop-science books, BookLab, hosted by Dan Falk and Amanda Gefter, and their latest episode includes my Eureka as the third of three books being discussed (a bit more than 40 minutes in, though their discussion of the other books is also interesting…). It’s sort of an odd experience…

How Not to Control the Weather for Your Dog

I’m rooting around in my bag for a pen, and pull out a laser pointer by mistake. Since I’d really prefer not to be grading, I flip it on and shine it on the floor next to the spot where Emmy is half-dozing. She immediately leaps up (she’s pretty spry for a dog of 12…),…

Simulated meets Real!

Here's a freshly minted Oscar winner who played a scientist surrounded by... scientists! I'm with fellow physicists Erik Verlinde, Maria Spiropulu, and David Saltzberg at an event last month. Front centre are of course actors Eddie Redmayne...Show More Summary

The Problem with Percentages

A sort of follow-up to last week’s post about the STEM “pipeline”. In discussions on Twitter sparked by the study I talked about last week, I’ve seen a bunch of re-shares of different versions of this graph of the percentage of women earning undergrad degrees in physics: You can clearly see that after a fairly…

Pre-Oscar Bash: Hurrah for Science at the Movies?

It is hard to not get caught up each year in the Oscar business if you live in this town and care about film. If you care about film, you're probably just mostly annoyed about the whole thing because the slate of nominations and eventual winners hardly represents the outcome of careful thought about relative merits and so forth. Show More Summary

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