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LHC will not restart this week

Engineers and technicians may need to warm up and recool a section of the accelerator before they can introduce particles. The Large Hadron Collider will not restart this week, according to a statement from CERN. Engineers and technicians are investigating an intermittent short circuit to ground in one of the machine’s magnet circuits. Show More Summary

Physics Madness: The Supersymmetric Sixteen

Which physics machine will reign supreme? Your vote decides. March is here, and that means one thing: brackets. We’ve matched up 16 of the coolest pieces of particle physics equipment that help scientists answer big questions about our universe. Show More Summary

How Does Angular Momentum Emerge?

Yesterday’s post about VPython simulation of the famous bicycle wheel demo showed that you can get the precession and nutation from a simulation that only includes forces. But this is still kind of mysterious, from the standpoint of basic physics intuition. Specifically, it’s sort of hard to see how any of this produces a force…

The Emergence of Angular Momentum

The third of the great physics principles introduced in our introductory mechanics courses is the conservation of angular momentum, or the Angular Momentum Principle in the language of the Matter and Interactions curriculum we use. This tends to be one of the hardest topics to introduce, in no small part because it’s the last thing…

The LHC does a dry run

Engineers have started the last step required before sending protons all the way around the renovated Large Hadron Collider. All systems are go! The the Large Hadron Collider’s operations team has started running the accelerator through...Show More Summary

Expanding the cosmic search

This article appeared in Fermilab Today on March 20, 2015. Down at the South Pole, where temperatures drop below negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit and darkness blankets the land for six months at a time, the South Pole Telescope (SPT) searches the skies for answers to the mysteries of our universe. This mighty scavenger is about Read the full article

Festival of Books!

(Click for larger view of 2010 Festival "What are you reading?" wall.) So the Festival of Books is 18-19th April this year. If you're in or near LA, I hope you're going! It's free, it's huge (the largest book festival in the USA) and...Show More Summary

LHCb: B-meson anomaly persists

Today LHCb released a new analysis of the angular distribution in the B0 ? K0(892) (?K+?-) ?+ ?- decays. In this 4-body decay process, the angles between the direction of flight of all the different particles can be measured as a function of the invariant mass q^2 of the di-muon pair. Show More Summary

LAIH Luncheon with Jack Miles

(Click for larger view.) On Friday 6th March the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities (LAIH) was delighted to have our luncheon talk given by LAIH Fellow Jack Miles. He told us some of the story behind (and the making of) the Norton...Show More Summary

Ramping up to Run 2

When I have taught introductory electricity and magnetism for engineers and physics majors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I have used a textbook by Young and Freedman. (Wow, look at the price of that book! But that’s a topic for another day.) The first page of Chapter 28, “Sources of Magnetic Field,” features this photo: Read the full article

Favorite Quantum Physics in Fiction?

We’ll be accepting applications for The Schrödinger Sessions workshop at JQI through tomorrow. We already have 80-plus applicants for fewer than 20 planned spots, including a couple of authors I really, really like and some folks who have won awards, etc., so we’re going to have our work cut out for us picking the attendees……

On Being an Artwork

Back when we were discussing Will Self’s impression of CERN as a place where scientists had no interest in the important philosophical questions, I commented that part of the trouble was Self’s expectation that scientists who were expecting to give him a technical tour should be prepared to have an ad hoc philosophical discussion instead. Read the full article

New Lucasian Professor

After a significant delay, Cambridge University made known the name of Michael Green‘s successor at the Lucasian chair. The 19th Lucasian Professor is Michael Cates, Professor at University of Edinburgh and Fellow of the Royal Society. Professor Cates is worldwide known for his researches in the field of soft condensed matter. It is a well […]

Inside the CERN Control Centre

Take a tour of one of the most important rooms at CERN. CERN is more than just the Large Hadron Collider. A complex network of beam lines feeds particles from one accelerator to the next, gradually ramping up their energy along the way. Before...Show More Summary

Just How Idiotic Are GPAs?

Yesterday’s quick rant had the sligfhtly clickbait-y title “GPAs are Idiotic,” because, well, I’m trying to get people to read the blog, y’know. It’s a little hyperbolic, though, and wasn’t founded in anything but a vague intuition that the crude digitazation step involved in going from numerical course averages to letter grades then back to…

Experiments combine to find mass of Higgs

The CMS and ATLAS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider join forces to make the most precise measurement of the mass of the Higgs boson yet. On the dawn of the Large Hadron Collider restart, the CMS and ATLAS collaborations are still gleaning valuable information from the accelerator’s first run. Show More Summary

GPA’s Are Idiotic

I was thinking about something only tangentially related to grading, when it struck me that the way we go about generating student grade point averages is the kind of mind-bogglingly stupid system that requires lots of smart people working together to produce. Two very different groups of smart people, with very different ways of looking…

Upcoming Talks: New Paltz Tonight, Nashville Next Week

I keep forgetting to mention these, but I have two talks coming up: 1) Tonight, March 17, I’m talking about Eureka to the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. This is a version of the talk I gave in Bristol, UK over the summer, but with the soccer content replaced with…

Video contest: Rock the LHC!

Do you think the Large Hadron Collider rocks? I sure do, and as the collider rocks back to life in the coming weeks (more on that soon), you can celebrate by entering the Rock the LHC video contest. It’s simple: you make a short video about why you are excited about research at the LHC, Read the full article

STEM Gender Gaps and Draft Dodging

It’s always a pleasure to see former students doing well, and to that end, we invited one of my former thesis students, Mike Mastroianni, class of 2007, to give a colloquium talk last week in the department. Mike went to physics grad school for a couple of years after graduation, but decided he was more…

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