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


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.

Hawking’s successor


Michael Green is the new Lucasian Professor (see here). Best congratulations to a really worthy appointment and wishes for future success to Professor Green. Michael GreenGreen is a string theorist famous for being one of the authors of the first string revolution. He was already full professor at Cambridge University and represents a perfect choice as Hawking’s successor.

Hawking hospitalized


Today I report bad news. Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest physicists, has been hospitalized and reported being “very ill”. Stephen HawkingYou can find the news here. Hawking is largely known for his works about singularities in general relativity and for the understanding he reached in the behavior of black holes when one takes into account quantum behavior. He become widely known to the public at large writing a book, ” A Brief History of Time”, that is a best-seller.

It is not possible to talk about Hawking without citing the disease he is affected. This is ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease from the name of the baseball player that had this illness.

Stephen Hawking is the holder of the Lucasian chair at University of Cambridge. He is expected to retire later this year.

My wish is that he can turn back to his activities in a very short time.

Update: Expected full recovery for Hawking, Cambridge University has said. Here the news.

LHC and media


I cannot avoid to write down this post as a lot of friends and colleagues are asking me about the next doomsday on September 10th. Indeed, our newspapers in Italy are now plenty of horrible misinformation about claiming the possibility that in that day a black hole will be produced and World will be finally eaten up.

As for us physicists we know that nothing of this is really possible even if a story about a PhD student producing our universe for her thesis is recurring. We are aware that the injected beams on that date will be at very low energy, 0.45 TeV, but anyhow I have found a beautiful article by Matthew Chalmers in Physics World (see here) explaining all the matter. The interested reader should go through it.

Finally, I am pleased to think that Hawking would be in the verge of receiveing a Nobel prize wherever we see an evaporating black hole. As this theory is really fascinating, it would be also a big hit if it would be proved true in such a controlled way.

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