[blog post] LHC Scientists face major setback

1 04 2014

The LHC is currently in shutdown in preparation for the next physics run in 2015. However the record breaking accelerator is danger is falling far behind schedule as the engineers struggle with technical difficulties 100m below ground level.

The LHC tunnels house the 27km long particle accelerator in carefully controlled conditions. When the beams circulate they must be kept colder than anywhere else in the solar system, and with a vacuum more empty the voids of outer space. Any disruption to the cryogenic cooling systems or the vacuum systems can place serious strain on the operations timetable, and engineers have found signs of severe damage.

Scientists patrol the LHC, inspecting the damaged areas.

Scientists patrol the LHC, inspecting the damaged areas.

Keep reading…





[blog post] Margaret Thatcher, politician, scientist

15 04 2013

Early last week Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, pass away, aged 87. She was a charismatic figure who was known internationally for being a strong and decisive leader. She had close political ties with President Ronald Reagan, she opposed the communist policies in Eastern Europe, and she was skeptical of increasing integration of the UK with Western Europe. Her actions and legacy are entwined with the global political stage at the time. However, in the UK she was very divisive and at times controversial, and even to this day there is a mixture of high praise a bitter resentment about her policies. Much has been said about her legacy over the past few days, and I think that, regardless of one’s own views, one of the best things we can say about Thatcher is that she knew what her vision was, and she pursued it with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.

Thatcher, the chemist (popsci)

Thatcher, the chemist (popsci)

Keep reading…





Tweeting the Higgs

23 01 2013

Back in July two seminars took place that discussed searches for the Higgs boson at the Tevatron and the LHC. After nearly 50 years of waiting an announcement of a \(5\sigma\) signal, enough to claim discovery, was made and all of a sudden the twitter world went crazy. New Scientist presented an analysis of the tweets by Domenico et al. relating to the Higgs in their Short Sharp Scient article Twitter reveals how Higgs gossip reached fever pitch. I don’t want to repeat what is written in the article, so please take a few minutes to read it and watch the video featured in the article.

The distribution of tweets around the July 2nd and July 4th announcements (note the log scale)

The distribution of tweets around the July 2nd and July 4th announcements (note the log scale)

Keep reading…





2013: The road ahead

1 01 2013

This time last year I wrote a blog post about what 2011 delivered and what to expect for 2012. It was obvious that we’d get some answers on the Higgs question, so it’s no surprise that we saw some 5 sigma bumps in there. As Rolf Heuer, Director General of CERN said it was a “vintage year” for physics, which I think means “very good”. Personally I think that the choice of word “vintage” is a bit anticlimactic. Surely a vintage anything is best enjoyed after several years have passed, if you have the money for it? It would have been nicer to see a word that reflected the current excitement of being a part of the discovery and seeing physics a living field, rather than comparing it to a bottle of dusty (though very tasty) wine at the back of a cellar somewhere. Oh well, maybe I’m reading too much into one word. Rolf’s article gives a very nice overview of 2012. In short, 2012 was brilliant and delivered as promised.

Keep reading





Merry Christmas!

25 12 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

More about the Sesame experiment:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20533763

http://www.sesame.org.jo/sesame/

Back when I was a Higgs skeptic:

http://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/09/08/higgs-skeptic/





Advent Calendar 2012 December 24th

24 12 2012

Where was the Higgs boson hiding? We searched or it directly and indirectly. Now that we have the answer, we can look indirectly for other things!

Electroweak fit: http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.0975





Advent Calendar 2012 December 23rd

23 12 2012

Particle physics is awesome enough all by itself. It gets even more awesome when we see the spin off technologies that have been developed over the decades!

The basics of radiation and hadron therapy are summed up quite well on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_beam_radiotherapy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_therapy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_therapy

Images taken from:
Bragg peak: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BraggPeak.png
Paul Scherrer Institut gantry: http://www.psi.ch/history-of-psi
Radiative therapy dose map: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360301607005068








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