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In Print…!

Here's the postcard they made to advertise the event of tomorrow (Tuesday). I'm pleased with how the design worked out, and I'm extra pleased about one important thing. This is the first time that any of my graphical work for the book...Show More Summary

The NSA, NIST and the AMS, Part II

Last summer I wrote here about an article in the AMS Notices which appeared to make misleading claims about the NSA’s involvement in putting a backdoor in an NIST cryptography standard known as DUAL_EC_DRBG. The article by Richard George, a … Continue reading ?

Short Items

The latest issue of the New York Review of Books has an article about the new Turing film, explaining in detail how it gets pretty much everything completely wrong about Turing and his story (see my review here). In related … Continue reading ?

Experiments with Colour

Well, that was interesting! I got a hankering to experiment with pastels the other day. I am not sure why. Then I remembered that I had a similar urge some years ago but had not got past the phase of actually investing in a few bits of equipment. Show More Summary

LAIH Luncheon – Ramiro Gomez

Yesterday's Luncheon at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, the first of the year, was another excellent one (even though it was a bit more compact than I'd have liked). We caught up with each other and discussed what's been...Show More Summary

Weekend plot: spin-dependent dark matter

This weekend plot is borrowed from a nice recent review on dark matter detection: It shows experimental limits on the spin-dependent scattering cross section of dark matter on protons. This observable is not where the most exciting race is happening, but it is important for constraining more exotic models of dark matter. Show More Summary

QIP 2015 live-blogging, Day 2

From the team that brought you “QIP 2015 Day 1 liveblogging“, here is the exciting sequel. Will they build a quantum computer? Will any complexity classes collapse? Will any results depend on the validity of the Extended Riemann Hypothesis? Read … Continue reading ?

20-ton magnet heads to New York

A superconducting magnet begins its journey from SLAC laboratory in California to Brookhaven Lab in New York. Imagine an MRI magnet with a central chamber spanning some 9 feet—massive enough to accommodate a standing African elephant. Show More Summary

Scientists complete array on Mexican volcano

An international team of astrophysicists has completed an advanced detector to map the most energetic phenomena in the universe. On Thursday, atop Volcán Sierra Negra, on a flat ledge near the highest point in Mexico, technicians filled...Show More Summary

Semi-Competent Astrophotography and Sidereal Days

I’m teaching my “Brief History of Timekeeping” class again this term, and as always, I’m tweaking things a bit. This is one of our “Sophomore Research Seminar” courses, intended to introduce students to academic research, so it’s not specifically a physics class, but I’m choosing to take the statements about research outside the student’s field…

BQP/LHC collision

This afternoon, I gave my usual spiel about Quantum Computing and the Limits of the Efficiently Computable at the CERN Colloquium.  Beforehand, Dana and I got to join a tour of the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider—one of the very last tours, before CMS shuts down (as ATLAS already has) to get ready for collisions at the LHC’s new, […]

The Sun Is Red Because The Sky Is Blue

SteelyKid missed the bus this morning– she was dressed and ready, but I was talking to Kate, and if there isn’t a person at the end of the driveway when the bus comes around the corner, they won’t stop. So I drove her over to school myself (which is faster, anyway). The GE research lab…

Thanks, Common Core

“Daddy, ask me a math problem.” “OK. What’s 18 plus 6?” “Ummm… 24.” “Correct.” “See, I just keep the 18 and then add 2 from the 6 to get 20. That leaves 4 from the six, and 20 plus 4 is 24.” “Right. Good work.” —— “Hey, SteelyKid. What’s 120 plus 180?” “Ummm… 300.” “Very…

Back

Now back from vacation, and as far as I can tell, not much happened while I was away. Here are a few things I’ve seen that may be of interest: Mochizuki has posted a long progress report on “activities devotd … Continue reading ?

Transition edge sensors

An update to technology more than a century old might be key to making the next big discovery in particle physics. This wiring diagram, drawn in 1994, is an early sketch of a concept that might help scientists detect dark matter or discover what happened just after the big bang. Show More Summary

Some Follow-Up on Teaching

Yesterday’s Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson struck a chord with a lot of people, and has spread a good distance on social media, which is gratifying. Given the delocalized nature of modern social media, though, it means I’m having essentially the same argument in five different places via different platforms. In the interest of…

Dark horse of the dark matter hunt

Dark matter might be made up of a type of particle not many scientists are looking for: the axion. The ADMX experiment seems to be an exercise in contradictions. Dark matter, the substance making up 85 percent of all the mass in the universe, is invisible. Show More Summary

Science Story: Letters to Famous Physicists

(When I launched the Advent Calendar of Science Stories series back in December, I had a few things in mind, but wasn’t sure I’d get through 24 days. In the end, I had more than enough material, and in fact didn’t end up using a few of my original ideas. So I’ll do a few…

QIP 2015 Return of the Live-blogging, Day 1

The three Pontiffs are reunited at QIP 2015 and, having forgotten how painful liveblogging was in the past, are doing it again. This time we will aim for some slightly more selective comments. In an ideal world the QIP PC … Continue reading ?

Mirror, mirror

After more than six years of grinding and polishing, the first-ever dual-surface mirror for a major telescope is complete. In March 2008, a group of people gathered around a giant, red oven in a six-story workshop space beneath the bleachers...Show More Summary

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