Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Good Is Particle Physics?

I've tackled this issue a few times on here, such as in this blog post. In this video, Don Lincoln decides to address this issue.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hot Cocoa Physics

Just in time for the cold weather, at least here in the upper northern hemisphere, APS Physics Central has a nice little experiment that you can do at home with your friends and family. Using just a regular mug, hot water/milk, cocoa mix, and a spoon, you can do a demo that might elicit a few questions and answers.

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I wish you all a happy and safe celebration.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Symmetry And Higgs Physics Via Economic Analogy?

Juan Maldacena is trying to do the impossible: explain the symmetry principles and the Higgs mechanism using analogies that one would find in economics.

I'm not making this up! :)

If you follow the link above, you will get the actual paper, which is an Open Access article. Read for yourself! :)

I am not sure if non-physicists will be able to understand it. If you are a non-physicist, and you went through the entire paper, let me know! I'm curious.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Is Computational Physics?

Rhett Allain has published his take on what "computational physics" is.

Many of us practicing physicists do work in computational physics. Some very often, some now and then. At some point, many of us have to either analyze data, do numerical modeling, or solve intractable equations. We either use pre-made codes, modify some other computer codes, write our own code, or use commercial software.

But certainly, this is less involved than someone who specializes in computational physics. But many of us do have the need to know how to do some of these things as part of our job. People who have to simulate particle beam dynamics, and those design accelerating structures are often accelerator physicists rather than computational physicists.

Hum... now I seem to be rambling on and can't remember the point I was trying to make. Ugh! Old age sucks!


Monday, November 09, 2015

100 Years Of General Relativity

General Relativity turns 100 years this month. The Universe was never the same again after that! :)

APS Physics has a collection of articles related to various papers published in their family of journals related to GR. Check them out. Many are fairly understandable to non-experts.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Physics Of Sports That "Defy Physics"

I love this article, and it is about time someone writes something like this.

Chad Orzel has a nice article explaining why the often-claimed event in sports that "defy physics" actually happened BECAUSE of physics.

Of course, as several physicists grumbled on Twitter this morning, “defied physics” is a silly way to describe these plays. These aren’t happening in defiance of physics, they’re happening because of physics. Physics is absolute and universal, and never defied– the challenge and the fun of these plays is to explain why and how these seemingly impossible shots are consistent with known physics.

What is being "defied" is one's understanding and expectations of what would happen and what looked seemingly impossible to happen. This is DIFFERENT than discovering  something that "defies physics", and that is what many people, especially sports writers and TV heads do not seem to understand. The fact that these people often lack any deep understanding of basic physics, but somehow seem to clearly know when something they don't understand well is being "defied", appears to be lost in all of this. It is like me, having never visited France or know much about the French people, making a claim that something isn't consistent with that country or people simply based on what I understand from watching TV.

I wish they stop using the phrase "defy physics" in situation like this the same way I wish reporters stop using the phrase "rate of speed" when they actually just mean "speed"!


Kamioka, Japan

With the recent Nobel Prizes in physics going to various discovery related to neutrinos, this Nature article is highly appropriate. We usually do not get a glimpse of the site where many of these experiments are performed. So it is nice to have a bit of a background on Kamioka, Japan, and also the various neutrino detectors and experiments that had gone on there. Considering that this is the place where Kamiokande, Super-Kamiokande, and the KamLAND experiments were done, this is a major site for neutrino-based studies.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Particle Physics Of You

You are made up of a lot, and I mean, A LOT, of elementary particles. This Symmetry article reveals a bit more of what particles formed you, and their basic properties and history.

But what I'm sure many of you do not realize is that you are also the source of radioactivity.

Your body is a small-scale mine of radioactive particles. You receive an annual 40-millirem dose from the natural radioactivity originating inside of you. That’s the same amount of radiation you’d be exposed to from having four chest X-rays. Your radiation dose level can go up by one or two millirem for every eight hours you spend sleeping next to your similarly radioactive loved one. 

So next time you run into someone who is rabid anti-radiation and claims that no amount of radiation is safe, tell him/her to ban him/herself.