Monthly Archives: March 2013

Highlights of March

Uff, that month was a tough one. I wrote my first grant, killed my first mouse, got my third cold of the season, said goodbye to the love of my life for two months, and been so busy that I haven’t been able to keep up with the posts.

In an attempt to get back to regular blogging, I’m going to start a monthly ‘highlights’. It’ll be heavily biased towards my own interests, so no calling foul on things I don’t include.

There were results from the Planck experiment, that measures the cosmic microwave background, which is essentially photons from the early universe that have done nothing since then but travel towards your detector. They get an amazing map of the CMBR [papers] [synopsis].

IceCube, which is a detector made out of ice in Antarctica, also published new data, further reducing the limits for the cross-section of dark-matter candidates WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, because sometimes physicists like naming things). [paper] [synopsis] [preprint]

ATRAP, an antiproton experiment measured the magnetic moment of the antiproton to three orders of magnitude more precision. It’s still consistent with the proton, which is reassuring for the Charge-Parity-Time theorem. [paper] [synopsis]

Nature had interesting sections on both the future of research publishing, and women in science.
For publishing, I’m a big advocate of open-access publishing. I want my research to be available to anyone that can understand it. I’ll write a blog expounding more on this in the future.
I like to think of myself as blind to gender, race, background whatever in my colleagues. But I’m smart enough to know that my subconscious probably isn’t. Particularly hard-hitting for me (being another white boy) was this recent post by MarkCC on Scientopia, where you can have the best of intentions, but still do it wrong. We all have to take care to make sure we’re giving everyone an equal chance.

A weird one is the removal of the paper describing the oldest human fossil from the Journal of Human Evolution, without much in the way of explanation. There are some rumblings that it’s a dispute over something that didn’t get cited, but I’m surprised that that gets a removal. Retraction Watch is following the story.


Timeline of a discovery

The ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC have produced an animated GIF showing how their signal for the Higgs boson built up as they gathered data.

There are a couple of different ones, for different decay modes — basically, the signal that they use to identify the Higgs

Find them here:
ATLAS: Higgs -> Two photons:
ATLAS: Higgs -> Four Leptons
ATLAS: Higgs -> Two WW:

CMS: Higgs -> Four Leptons

They’re nice to look at no? I’ll explain what they’re showing in a later post

Discovered at Tommaso Dorigo’s blog

The mysterious size of the proton
One of the stories to come out of atomic physics in the first part of this year that grabbed my attention was the continuing saga of the puzzle of the proton size. I really find this interesting because it shows that there are still surprises waiting for us in physics, even when we’ve though that we’ve understood everything as well as possible. Read on for a description of the experiment and what’s going on.

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