Saturday, 14 November 2015

Friday wrap-up: 4/fb, Fermi...

Another two week break, but plenty happened this week!

  • The LHC has finished collecting proton-proton collision data for the year. ATLAS ended up with ~4.0/fb, and CMS with ~3.6/fb.
  • Fermi Collaboration have released their own analysis of the galactic centre excess. I have not had time to read the paper in detail (not that I could comment with much authority even if I had), but it is interesting that they seem to see a residual excess after subtracting known sources, which can be somewhat accounted for by a peaking template (dark matter?). Perhaps we will know more by next week...


    There's a layperson article from The Economist about it which says, "There are still a few die-hards who do not believe in hooperons"! Well, call me a die-hard.
  • The XENON1T direct detection experiment at Gran Sasso was inaugurated on Wednesday. Read the press release here; they write, "Once fully operational, XENON1T will be the most sensitive dark matter experiment in the world. The detector installation has been completed just a few days ago and the first tests of its performance have already been started. The first science results are expected early 2016, as only one week of good data is sufficient to yet again take the lead in the field." And some cool pictures:


  • The $3mil Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded for the experiments which established neutrino oscillations (the decision was made before the Nobel Prizes were known). The prize was shared equally among the Daya Bay, K2K/T2K, KamLAND, SNO, and Super K collaborations, with two-thirds of each share to the leaders and one-third to the remaining collaboration members: 1370 physicists in all! It is nice to see all of these scientists recognised.

    The Symposium and Panel Discussion are on YouTube. The Fundamental Physics talks are on the future of particle physics and feature Nima Arkani-Hamed, Lawrence Hall, Beate Heinemann, Gabriel Orebi Gann, and Tom Shutt.
  • Worth reading are two articles, one a piece by Ed Witten, "What every physicist should know about string theory," and another an interview with Abhay Ashtekar broken into four parts: 1. Getting started on gravity and cosmology; 2. Learning from Chandra; 3. Challenges in loop quantum gravity; 4. Arrogance in string theory.

    Of course these are bat-signals for Woit and/or Motl, so click their names to read their reactions/reflections too.
  • The people's choice voting is open for photographs from the InterActions Physics Photowalk, featuring shots of CERN, DESY, FermiLab, INFN, KEK, SLAC, SUPL, and TRIUMF.
  • Links without thinks:
    • There's some buzz about a quasipolynomial time algorithm for the graph isomorphism problem. See this blog for a (research-level) detailed description. Else for the layperson see Science, New Scientist, or Motherboard.
    • Nautilus: "Will Quantum Mechanics Swallow Relativity? The contest between gravity and quantum physics takes a new turn."
    • Dan Waddell via Medium: "Saving Tim Hunt," a long read on the Tim Hunt story.
    • Thesis Whisperer: "Academic assholes and the circle of niceness."
    • Nature: "Networking: Hello, stranger," on conference etiquette and career development.
    • Existential Comics: "Trolley Madness."
  • In audio/video media:
    • 2016 Breakthrough Prize Symposium in Fundamental Physics, with: 1. Nima Arkani-Hamed - Motivations for 100km Circular Colliders; 2. Lawrence Hall - New Searches for Dark Matter in Particle Collisions; 3. Beate Heinemann - The LHC and beyond: what can colliders teach us?; 4. Gabriel Orebi Gann - Unravelling the Secrets of the Universe with Neutrinos; 5. Tom Shutt - The Hunt for Dark Matter. [1:36:49]
    • CBS 60 Minutes: "The Collider," on the LHC. [11:54]
    • Catalyst: "Einstein's Extraordinary Universe", featuring visits to LHC, Gran Sasso, and LIGO. [28:17]
    • WHYY RadioTimes: with Lisa Randall on dark matter and the dinosaurs. [48:57]
    • MinutePhysics: "How to go to space," Thing Explainer edition. [2:57]
    • Numberphile: "The Uncracked Problem with 33". [8:28]

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