Back to work


I would like to have a lot more time to write on my blog. Indeed, time is something I have no often and also the connection is not so good as I would like in the places I spend most of it. So, I take this moment to give an update of what I have seen around in these days.

LHC has found no evidence of dark matter so far (see here). Dark matter appears even more difficult to see and theory is not able to help the search. This is also one of our major venues to go beyond the Standard Model. On the other side, ASACUSA experiment at CERN produced the first beam of antihydpogen atoms (see here, this article is free to read). We expect no relevant news about the very nature of Higgs until, on 2015, LHC will restart. It must be said that the data collected so far are saying to us that this particle is behaving very nearly as that postulated by Weinberg on 1967.

In these days there has been some fuss about the realization in laboratory of a Dirac magnetic monopole (see here).  Notwithstanding this is a really beautiful experiment, nobody has seen a magnetic monopole so far. It is a simulation performed with another physical system: A BEC. This is a successful technology that will permit us an even better understanding of physical systems that are difficult to observe. Studies are ongoing to realize a simulation of  Hawking radiation in such a system.  Even if this is the state of affairs, I have read in social networks and in the news that a magnetic monopole was seen in laboratory. Of course, this is not true.

The question of black holes is always at the top of the list of the main problems in physics. Mostly when a master of physics comes out with a new point of view. So, a lot of  fuss arose from this article in Nature involving a new idea from Stephen Hawking that the author published in a paper on arxiv (see here). Beyond the resounding title, Hawking is just proposing a way to avoid the concept of firewalls that was at the center of a hot debate in the last months. Again we recognize that a journalist is not making a good job but is generating a lot of noise around and noise can hide a signal very well.

Finally, we hope in a better year in science communication. The start was somewhat disappointing.

Kuroda N, Ulmer S, Murtagh DJ, Van Gorp S, Nagata Y, Diermaier M, Federmann S, Leali M, Malbrunot C, Mascagna V, Massiczek O, Michishio K, Mizutani T, Mohri A, Nagahama H, Ohtsuka M, Radics B, Sakurai S, Sauerzopf C, Suzuki K, Tajima M, Torii HA, Venturelli L, Wu Nschek B, Zmeskal J, Zurlo N, Higaki H, Kanai Y, Lodi Rizzini E, Nagashima Y, Matsuda Y, Widmann E, & Yamazaki Y (2014). A source of antihydrogen for in-flight hyperfine spectroscopy. Nature communications, 5 PMID: 24448273

M. W. Ray,, E. Ruokokoski,, S. Kandel,, M. Möttönen,, & D. S. Hall (2014). Observation of Dirac monopoles in a synthetic magnetic field Nature, 505, 657-660 DOI: 10.1038/nature12954

Zeeya Merali (2014). Stephen Hawking: ‘There are no black holes’ Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature.2014.14583

S. W. Hawking (2014). Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes arXiv arXiv: 1401.5761v1

“Please do not believe the blogs”


CERN does not confirm rumors that were spreading about Higgs particle  in the blogosphere recently (see here). We have not to wait too long anyway as ICHEP is just a few days ahead.

Update: CERN confirms that curtain will be raised at ICHEP on 4th July (see here for the official news).

Higgs: Tevatron confirms CERN findings


In these days, at Moriond (La Thuile indeed, a great ski station) on Italian Alps, a conference is held (see here). Today is the Higgs day and people at Tevatron confirmed the clues found by CERN and announced last December. Higgs particle mass should be around 125 GeV. This has being reverberated on the media (see here). The evidence found at Tevatron is about two sigma (one percent probability that is not a fluctuation in the data) and so, one cannot claim a discovery and well below the three sigma evidence from CERN. For a final word we will have to wait summer conferences and new data from the restart of LHC at April.

Update: Here is Fermilab press release.

Update: Matt Strassler is pointing out in his blog that ATLAS has now a lower evidence for the Higgs particle than in last December. This seems something like the fluctuation of the last summer. Evidence for this would be now 10%.

No faster than light neutrinos after all…


Media all around the World are spreading the news. A defective apparatus at CERN caused so much ado. Back to Einstein again…

A briefer history of Stephen Hawking


I am always happy to point out to my readers worthwhile readings from the web and mostly from significant sites. One of my preferred ones is New York Times. This time there is an interview by Claudia Dreifus to the great physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking is well-known for his fundamental contributions to cosmology and our current understanding of black hole physics positing the foundations to any future theory of quantum gravity. Hawking is also known for his enduring struggle against the motor neuron disease that afflicts him since the times of his youth. Notwithstanding such a hurdle he was able to find his way becoming one of the greatest living theoretical physicists. Hawking has been Lucasian Professor at Cambridge University and left the chair due to the age succeeded by Michael Green, a well-known string theorist.

Claudia in this interview gives relevance to Hawking’s disease and tries to give a picture on how Stephen was able to reach such high goals despite of this. It is also interesting to point out a couple of questions about LHC and the recent finding at Fermilab of a claim for a new particle discover (see here). All this makes the interview a worthwhile reading.

Looking for black swans


Criticisms to present management of science are recurrent claiming that only well-founded research is pursued while the search for new and risky avenues is generally dismissed as there is no  revenue, at least in short time, and, in the worst case, any investment may be lost.

About this matter I have found an article on Physics World’s blog (see here). Of course, one can disagree about writer’s arguments but the feeling that we are livng a time of stall is somehow pervasive in some communities. My personal view is that we have recurring periods of hype and a lot of work for preparing them. In a period of hype giant figures emerge but to recognize giants that, nevertheless, prepared the field for the coming revolution era is surely more difficult. It is the same situation we find in soccer where there is a player doing a decisive pass but, in the end, we only remember the one that realized the goal.

Physicists and finance


Just to point out an interesting article in the New York Times (see here) about physicists working for financial markets. I have known some years ago a physicist that took this decision rather than keeping on living as a postdoc with very few bucks to maintain his family. I have never seen him again but I think he did not regret his choice.

The article is interesting as points out as a physicist working for certainties can become a scientist on uncertainties. Looking at their salaries you should interchange above adjectives.

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