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Evidence in the Natural Sciences

I recently spent a day at the Simons Foundation in midtown, attending a symposium on Evidence in the Natural Sciences. Of the scientific program talks, I got the most out of the one by Thomas Hales on the question of … Continue reading ?

My Conversation with “Eugene Goostman,” the Chatbot that’s All Over the News for Allegedly Passing the Turing Test

If you haven’t read about it yet, “Eugene Goostman” is a chatbot that’s being heavily promoted by the University of Reading’s Kevin Warwick, for fooling 33% of judges in a recent Turing Test competition into thinking it was human, and thereby supposedly becoming “the first program to pass the Turing Test” as Turing defined it in […]

Science and diplomacy: Q&A with William Colglazier

The science and technology adviser to the US Secretary of State discusses how science and diplomacy can serve one another. William Colglazier, science and technology adviser to the US Secretary of State, gave a colloquium at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on May 21. Show More Summary

Cosmos Reboot Wrap-Up

The Cosmos reboot season finale (or possibly series finale; not sure if they’re trying for a second set of episodes) was last night, but I wasn’t able to take part in the live-tweeting of it thanks to a super-restless Pip who didn’t drop off until 9:30 EDT. I suppose I could’ve waited to start the…

Past the End of Science

I haven’t yet seen a copy of Marcelo Gleiser’s new book, but this weekend the Wall Street Journal had a review by John Gribbin, author of the 2009 multiverse-promotional effort In Search of the Multiverse. I don’t know how Gleiser … Continue reading ?

Kickin’ Back

Made it home Friday evening after another bout of airline nonsense– they had replaced the plane for my flight into Albany with a smaller aircraft, so my email boarding pass assigned me to a nonexistent seat. Which had been corrected in their computer, but was never communicated to me, or to several other passengers who…

CERN announces winners of student research competition

The winners of the Beam Line for Schools competition will use a beam of particles at CERN to investigate one of the fundamental forces of nature and to test a home-built device. Following almost 300 submissions from school groups around the world, two teams have been selected to come to CERN to carry out their own experiments at a CERN beam line. Show More Summary

LHCb glimpses possible sign of new physics

A result presented at the LHC Physics conference in New York could show a crack in the Standard Model. This week at the LHC Physics conference in New York City, the LHCb collaboration presented a result that could be a hint of new physics. LHCb,...Show More Summary

CCC’s Declaration of Independence

Recently, the participants of the Conference on Computational Complexity (CCC)—the latest iteration of which I’ll be speaking at next week in Vancouver—voted to declare their independence from the IEEE, and to become a solo, researcher-organized conference. Show More Summary

Honest Time Travel?

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

On Tuesday I hung out with some of the Screen Junkies folks who you may know from the hilarious "Honest Movie Trailers" web series (seriously, if you've not seen any of them, please go right now and have a look). We had a fun chat about time travel in movies, and presenter Hal Rudnick and I bonded over various movies old and new. Show More Summary

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

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