Posts Tagged ‘LHC


LHC Update

From the physics blags, here’s a great post from John at Cosmic Variance, bringing you up to speed. Things get a little difficult at points, but I think it would still be a fun post to read, if you’re interested.

This past weekend the LHC crossed a major threshold: 1 inverse picobarn delivered to the experiments – a factor of a thousand more collisions. By late next year we are all hoping to have recorded another factor of a thousand, for a total of 1 inverse femtobarn.

In an earlier post I explained these funny units, inverse whatever-barns. The point here, though, is that as we record exponentially greater numbers of collision events, with the proton beam energy 3.5 times greater than that at the Tevatron at Fermilab we will begin to really probe an unexplored mass scale in the search for new particles. What lies there is completely unknown.

Also. I love the Onion, as you should too. Here’s an awesome article — “Scientists Ask Congress to Fund $50 Billion Science Thing” — from 2007 that I thiiiink is referring to the Superconducting Super Collider (sadest story every told).


LHC’s on Facebook. Watch out.

Become friends with the Large Hadron Collider on Facebook! Get updates and interesting snippets and such (like this one).


these vibes ARE cosmic.

Props to Tom G. for this BBC article (“God Particle Data is Simulated as Sound”**) about a physicist’s new way of analyzing and simulating data gathered from the Large Hadron Collider:

Scientists have simulated the sounds set to be made by sub-atomic particles such as the Higgs boson when they are produced at the Large Hadron Collider.

Their aim is to develop a means for physicists at Cern to “listen to the data” and pick out the Higgs particle if and when they finally detect it.

Cool! Couldn’t think of a better topic for this blog. Anyways, if you go to the article, there are sound clips for you to listen to. Very cool.

This isn’t the first time physicists have decided to translate the Universe into music. Just asked Dr. Who.

There’s also these Sounds of the Universe. But, hey, that’s a whole ‘nother story entirely.

**If you call the Higgs particle “the God particle” while around me, I promise to vomit on your shoes.


This guy can explain me some things.

Brian Cox seems like quite a dude. What an excellent speaker. Whenever I come across a lecture from him on the interwebs I stop and listen. In fact, I’ve been planning to post some of his talks for a while now, but I wanted to do it properly. So here we go…

Here’s the first excellent Ted talk from Brian Cox (that I’m listing, not that he did) on the wonders of science. Well, I do think science is prrretty wonderful. Cox runs through some history, and mmmwell, generally inspires. It’s just…lovely…

Gimme s’more! you say? Well, here ya go. Another great Ted talk from Brian Cox, this time on the LHC. The talk covers a broad range of topics (coherently too — and in only 15 minutes!) listed below with links.

Topics covered:

  1. Large Hadron Collider (see earlier blog post 1 and post 2)
  2. ATLAS detector (CERN page and Wiki page)
  3. The early Universe (There will be a post on this soon! This is the area of physics I know best. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s explanation and some – a bit higher level – info from Preposterous Universe.)
  4. Elementary particles and forces (the Wiki page is the best I could find, for the moment, and you might want to just stop after the overview)
  5. The standard model/Higgs particle (Check out my earlier post for a slew of good links. Also, there’s this post from Cosmic Variance, “Higgs 101,” that I missed before. Good stuff.)
  6. Strength of forces of nature (This is a great post from Uncertain Principles. He talks about what “force” means in general, but he starts to talk about the fundamental forces around paragraph 9.)
  7. Supersymmetry (For a verrry basic intro, go here. But you can also go here, and scroll down, for a little more. Then there’s also the Wikipedia entry, a’course. The intro’s really good.)
  8. Evolution of the Universe, particle physics and cosmology (Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma, anyway? I mean, come on.) I plan to write a post on this soon, taking you through all the major era’s of the history of the Universe, but until then — you can learn more about the evolution of the Universe from my amazing undergraduate adviser here and from Sean Carroll’s old blog Preposterous Universe here. Theeeen go here to click around and learn more about cosmology and the Big Bang theory from NASA. Or you can just click on the picture in the upper-right-hand corner of this blog page (above the links). But, like I said, I’ll be explaining more later, so stay tuned!

Enough for you? I recommend, to get the most out of this talk (and because it’s so short and entertaining), you go through it twice. First, just watch it. Second time, stop it at each of the topics and read a little on the topic. Theeeen, if you have some extra time, watch the talk again. Really, it’s such a joy to watch this (yes, I’m bringing that back, well that and sexy). Ch-ch-check it out.

Questions? Poste em in the comments section and, if necessary, I’ll do a follow-up post!

P.S. So… seriously, we’re not going to create a massive black hole at the LHC. Promise. Don’t believe him.


Pop-up particle physics and LHC talk!

Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Momma was in town, and some other crazy things happened. But that’s life eh?! Anyways, BRING ON THE PHYSICS!

Tomorrow, May 25th, 630-8pm, at the New York Academy of Sciences.  The speakers will be Lisa Randall (Harvard), Michael Tuts (Columbia), and the headliner, Emma Sanders (CERN). This is all in honor of the LHC, of course, and Sanders’ new particle physics pop-up book! (Thanks Sam Z.!)

Here’s some info off the NY Academy of Sciences page:

Alan Alda will moderate as leading physicists Lisa Randall (Harvard) and Michael Tuts (Columbia), join CERN’s Emma Sanders to explain new science coming from the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. In particular, they’ll share details of the ATLAS Experiment, a particle physics experiment that began earlier this year searching for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy.

ATLAS will learn about the basic forces that have shaped our Universe since the beginning of time and that will determine its fate. Among the possible unknowns are the origin of mass, extra dimensions of space, unification of fundamental forces, and evidence for dark matter candidates in the Universe.

There’s more information on the website, and you need to register on that site as well. Enjoy! Wish I could be there!


Why we matter (but don’t antimatter).

Fermilab's particle accelerator, the Tevatron

Fermilab's particle accelerator, the Tevatron.

Or, rather, why there is a matter dominance in the Universe. You see, in the very early universe there was alot of matter and antimatter, but when matter and antimatter meet they anihilate each other. And that’s what happened! It was very dramatic, I’m sure. But we’re here, so there must have been some matter left over after this huge anihilation — meaning that, for some reason, there was more matter in the early Universe than antimatter. This is called, in techical terms, “CP violation,” as this apparent matter dominance in our Universe is a violation of two physical symmetries, charge (hence the C) and parity (hence the P — parity is the symmetry between right and left). We love symmetries in physics, and when they’re violated, we go “whaaaa?” and want to know why.

Now, why was there a dominance of matter over antimatter in the early Universe? It turns out that the good folks at Fermilab Tevatron (the second most powerful particle accelerator after the LHC, located in Illinois) might have just found out. Here are some places to read more:

(1) New York Times article, “A New Clue to Explain Existence,” sent to me by my most excellent physics adviser and mentor Gary Felder.

In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.

(2) From the blog Uncertain Principles, “Why do we have stuff? Hints from Fermilab.”

The physics issue in question is why we have more matter than antimatter in the universe, as symmetry would seem to demand they be created in equal amounts in the Big Bang. Had that happened, though, all of the matter should’ve annihilated with the antimatter very quickly, leaving us with a big empty space full of photons and not much else. So there must be some breaking of fundamental symmetries, the technical term for which is “CP-violation,” in order for there to be all the matter we see around us.

(3) A great post from the blog the Great Beyond (which I haven’t heard of before, but this is a great post — great, short explanations): “Making More Matter.”

(4) A bit higher level, from the RESONAANCES blog, “New Physics Claims from D0!” (RESONAANCES is a great blog if you actually have a physics background, otherwise it’s… you know… kinda gibberish.)

(5) Well, im not sure how much fun this will be, but if you’d like to look at their paper, you can find it on SPIRES (the Stanford University high-energy physics papers archive) here. It’s called “Evidence for an anomalous like-sign dimuon charge asymmetry.” …Fun! Well, reading the introduction might be cool.



Next particle accelerator?

I got the question the other day whether or not there are other, BIGGER accelerators in the works. Thing is, right now talking about building another accelerator right after this multi-billion dollar one started taking data would probably be such bad PR that no one would attempt it. But, what is in the works (and has been for quite a bit) is a different kind of accelerator. Rather than just go bigger and bigger, the technology within the accelerator is likely to change. For example, the magnets might get even nuttier, or something like that. Another idea that I heard about a little while ago, and is still in the research stage is a tabletop accelerator (that article is a bit old, from 2004, but I think it gives a prrretty good intro). If this could work, there are many great advantages. For one thing, it would be smaller (obviously), but it would also, hopefully, be cheaper — cheap enough that most universities could acquire one. That would be great for research.

Computer simulation of the tabletop accelerator experiment at FACET.

Computer simulation of what's going on in the FACET experiment at Stanford. The front of the "drive bunch" particles (blue) ionizes a lithium vapor to create a plasma (atoms with their electrons stripped off), then the core of the bunch of particles drives the wake in the plasma (green contours). The "witness bunch" of particles (red) will ride the wake and be accelerated to twice it's initial energy in about one meter. So the energy of the particles doubles in just a meter! Way smaller distance than in the circular accelerators like the LHC. (Image courtesy of FACET.)

Here’s a slightly newer article (from 2009) that speaks about more current things going on with tabletop accelerators. Note: SLAC is the Stanford Linear Accelerator; a linear particle accelerator located at Stanford University . Also, they talk about the particle, a positron, a lot in the article. Briefly, it’s the antimatter counterpart to an electron (same exact properties of an electron except it is positively, rather than negatively, charged — and the positron and electron will annihilate each other if they meet). More information on positrons found here. More information on antimatter here. (Sometimes Wikipedia is my best friend.) And here’s a slightly higher level article on antimatter that gives some history as well.


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