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EXO experiment searches for exotic decay

The search for neutrinoless double-beta decay could reveal valuable information about neutrinos. Two years ago researchers began using a tank of liquid xenon installed more than 2000 feet deep in a salt formation in the southeasternShow More Summary

Big Bang Blunder Bursts the Multiverse Bubble

This week’s Nature has an article by Paul Steinhardt, with the title Big Bang blunder bursts the multiverse bubble. The subtitle of the piece describes the BICEP2 frenzy of last March as “premature hype”, and the description in the body … Continue reading ?

MINOS result narrows field for sterile neutrinos

Data collected at the long-running MINOS experiment stacks evidence against the existence of these theoretical particles. If you’re searching for something that may not exist, and can pass right through matter if it does, then knowing where to look is essential. That’s why the search for so-called sterile neutrinos is a process of elimination. Show More Summary

How I Sometimes Feel

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

In fact, the last several days have felt like this, with regards big decisions about various administrative roles I've been asked to consider taking on. It never seems to end, and I am terrible at saying no to as many things as I should. Show More Summary

Bent Cog

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

Here's what almost ruined my morning on Monday. I decided to cycle the Brompton all the way into work, and went a different way as a change of scenery. At some point, my bike chain started making quite the racket, with a jarring action...Show More Summary

The Internet Exists Because of (Schrödinger’s) Cats

I’m working on some short pop-quantum explainers for reasons that I’ll be a little cagey about. In casting around for a novel way to introduce Schrödinger’s cat states, I hit on something that probably works, but illustrates the problems inherent in being both a professional physicist and a pop-science writer. The hook, as I mentioned…

Beam on: My father’s fight with cancer

After working with particle accelerators his entire professional career, Heather Rock Woods’ father placed himself in the path of a beam to fight cancer. The door swung shut automatically and the sign above it flashed “Beam On,” warning...Show More Summary

More than math

MIT teaches physics students about another side of scientific life—communication. Most undergraduate physics classes are heavy on the problem sets. But there’s more to being a scientist than solving equations. At the Massachusetts Institute...Show More Summary

Clocks, Microwaves, and the Limits of Fermi Problems

I don’t have anything all that new to say about last night’s Cosmos reboot, and I’m leaving for scenic Madison, WI today to attend DAMOP, so I don’t have a great deal of time. Kate did mention something over dinner last night, though, that’s a good topic for a quick blog post. Kate’s a big…

Another one bites the dust...

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Resonaances

...though it's not BICEP2 this time :) This is a long overdue update on the forward-backward asymmetry of the top quark production. Recall that, in a collision of a quark and an anti-quark producing a top quark together with its antiparticle, the top quark is more often ejected in the direction of the incoming quark (as opposed to the anti-quark). Show More Summary

Giulio Tononi and Me: A Phi-nal Exchange

You might recall that last week I wrote a post criticizing Integrated Information Theory (IIT), and its apparent implication that a simple Reed-Solomon decoding circuit would, if scaled to a large enough size, bring into being a consciousness vastly exceeding our own. Show More Summary

A new heart for the ATLAS detector

US scientists collaborated with an international team to install a new component in the core of the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. The Large Hadron Collider’s biggest detector, the ATLAS detector, just got a little bigger. Show More Summary

Q&A: Rick Field, the physicist in the family

Physicist Rick Field discusses physics, Hollywood and a recent appearance by his sister, actress Sally Field, on the Late Show with David Letterman. In 1951, young Rick and Sally Field watched their mother star in Hollywood’s first science...Show More Summary

Uncertain Dots 16

For the sixteenth episode of Uncertain Dots, we decided to bring in some guests, Andy Rundquist and Kelly O’Shea for a conversation about standards-based grading. This came up because I’m playing around with this using the same tiered scheme I talked about back in January. This was a fun conversation, and some interesting ideas came…

Thank You, Maya Angelou

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

I heard this morning that she passed away today. I'm very sad about this, but also so very happy to have heard and read her work, a real lasting and and sustaining gift. I still remember the chills I felt when first hearing her read "Still I rise". Show More Summary

“Earthing” Is a Bunch of Crap

A little while back, I was put in touch with a Wall Street Journal writer who was looking into a new-ish health fad called “earthing,” which involves people sleeping on special grounded mats and that sort of thing. The basis of this particular bit of quackery is the notion that spending time indoors, out of…

The physics of dance

Two Yale professors thrive where calculation meets choreography. A course first offered at Yale University in 2011 is cross-listed in an unusual combination of departments: physics and theatre arts. In the class, instructors Sarah Demers...Show More Summary

Quantifying the Rise and Fall of Complexity in Closed Systems: The Coffee Automaton

Good news!  After nearly three years of procrastination, fellow blogger Sean Carroll, former MIT undergraduate Lauren Ouellette, and yours truly finally finished a paper with the above title (coming soon to an arXiv near you).  PowerPoint slides are also available (as usual, you’re on your own if you can’t open them—sorry!). For the background and context of […]

Sketchy Freedom

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

Memorial Day - 26th May 2014. I arrive at downtown Los Angeles to enjoy a few moments of the pure joy of looking. Of seeing something in front of me well enough to make a rough representation of it on a piece of paper in front of me, for the pure hell of it. Show More Summary

News From the Front XII: The Nuts and Bolts of Enthalpy in Quantum Gravity

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

So it happened again. I got musing to myself about something and decided to do a quick computation to check it out, and it took me down an interesting rabbit hole, which resulted in me writing a nice little paper at the end of last week that appeared today on the arxiv. Show More Summary

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