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Astrophysics at the edge of the Earth

Conducting research at the South Pole takes a unique level of commitment. The sun sets but once a year at the South Pole, and it is a prolonged process. During a recent stay at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, postdoctoral researcher Jason Gallicchio saw it hover along the horizon for about a week before dropping out of sight for six months. Show More Summary

Imminent Death of the Paper Book Predicted, .GIF at 11

I got a royalty statement yesterday for How to Teach [Quantum] Physics to Your Dog (it continues to sell steadily, which is very gratifying), which includes a breakdown of the sales in terms of different formats. That reminded me of a particular annoying quirk of many recent discussions of the state of modern publishing, which…

Fatherhood and Academia

Via a whole bunch of people on social media, there’s a new study of gender roles in academia, which the Washington Post headlines “Study: Male scientists want to be involved dads, but few are”. This is not inaccurate. Some quotes that jumped out at me: “Academic science doesn’t just have a gender problem, but a…

Screen Junkies Chat: Guardians of the Galaxy

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

You may recall that back in June I had a chat with Hal Rudnick over at Screen Junkies about science and time travel in various movies (including the recent "X-Men: Days of Future Past"). It was a lot of fun, and people seemed to like it a lot. Show More Summary

Steven Pinker’s inflammatory proposal: universities should prioritize academics

If you haven’t yet, I urge you to read Steven Pinker’s brilliant piece in The New Republic about what’s broken with America’s “elite” colleges and how to fix it.  The piece starts out as an evisceration of an earlier New Republic article on the same subject by William Deresiewicz.  Pinker agrees with Deresiewicz that something is wrong, […]

But How…?

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

I get questions from time to time about where the drawings on the site come from, or how they are done. The drawing I had in one of last week's posts is a good example of one that can raise questions, partly because you don't get a sense of scale after I've done a scan and cropped off the notebook edges and so forth. Show More Summary

What Hawking really meant

Fermilab physicist Don Lincoln explains the idea of a metastable universe, what it has to do with the Higgs boson, and why we're still in good shape. If you’re a science enthusiast, this week you have likely encountered headlines claiming...Show More Summary

No Pressure Then…

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

Saw this the other day: Eek! Better get around to writing my remarks before Saturday! In case you're wondering, find out more about the Bridging the STEM Divide [...] Click to continue reading this post ?

Travel Cons

Matt “Dean Dad” Reed has a post about the issue of academic conference travel, which is expensive and often the first thing cut out of college budgets. Which leaves faculty either disconnected from their field, or paying out-of-pocket to attend meetings that they need to demonstrate their scholarly productivity. This, in turn, tends to skew…

The question of the mass gap

Some years ago I proposed a set of solutions to the classical Yang-Mills equations displaying a massive behavior. For a massless theory this is somewhat unexpected. After a criticism by Terry Tao I had to admit that, for a generic gauge, such solutions are just asymptotic ones assuming the coupling runs to infinity (see here […]

On Productivity

One of the weirder experiences I had at the Nordita Workshop for Science Writers a couple of weeks ago was having people ask me “How are you so productive?” (or the equivalent). That caught me off guard, because I don’t feel like I’m especially productive– in fact, I tend to feel like I’m falling behind…

True tales of science

When two theoretical physicists crossed paths at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, the Story Collider was born. When storyteller Margot Leitman asked students at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York to describe...Show More Summary

Sailing Stones: Mystery No More

My first research project, my first research paper, was on a perplexing phenomenon: the sliding rocks of Death Valley’s Racetrack playa. Racetrack playa is a large desolate dry lake bed that has one distinguishing feature above and beyond its amazing … Continue reading ?

New Year, New Class: Gen Ed Relativity

The new academic year starts this week– first day of classes is Wednesday– and I’m dealing with the usual chaos associated with the influx of a new class of students. Who now look to me only a tiny bit older than SteelyKid and the Pip in the above picture (and if you think that sharing…

Weekend Plot: ultimate demise of diphoton Higgs excess

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Resonaances

This weekend's plot is the latest ATLAS measurement of the Higgs signal strength ? in the diphoton channel: Together with the CMS paper posted earlier this summer, this is probably the final word on Higgs-to-2-photons decays in the LHC run-I. Show More Summary

Raise a martini glass for Google and Martinis!

We’ve already been discussing this in the comments section of my previous post, but a few people emailed me to ask when I’d devote a separate blog post to the news. OK, so for those of you who haven’t yet heard: this week Google’s Quantum AI Lab announced that it’s teaming up with John Martinis, of the University of California, […]

Higgs what?

In these days it has been announced the new version of Review of Particle Physics by the Particle Data Group (PDG). This is the bread and butter of any particle physicist and contains all the relevant data about this area of research. It is quite common for us to search the on-line version or using […]

Quick Links

Well worth reading is High Energy Colliding Beams; What Is Their Future, by Burton Richter. Richter is one of the pioneers of designing and building colliders, and he starts off by recounting some of the history. About proposals for a … Continue reading ?

Forecasting the future

Physicists and other scientists use the GEANT4 toolkit to identify problems before they occur. Physicists can tell the future—or at least foresee multiple possible versions of it. They do this through computer simulations. Simulations...Show More Summary

What I Read on My Summer Vacation

Three weeks in Europe means a lot of time on planes and trains, so I actually got to read some fiction for a change. I’m stuck in a meeting all day today, and need a morale boost on the way in, so I’ll go back to my book-blogging roots and type up the books that…

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