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Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system

Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system
Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today's academic system because he would not be considered "productive" enough. The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his groundbreaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964. He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today's academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964." Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980. Related:  Natural SciencesQuantum Physics

Fluid Experiments Support Deterministic “Pilot-Wave” Quantum Theory For nearly a century, “reality” has been a murky concept. The laws of quantum physics seem to suggest that particles spend much of their time in a ghostly state, lacking even basic properties such as a definite location and instead existing everywhere and nowhere at once. Only when a particle is measured does it suddenly materialize, appearing to pick its position as if by a roll of the dice. This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality. The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. Magical Measurements Bottom: Akira Tonomura/Creative Commons

Possibility of cloning quantum information from the past -- ScienceDaily Popular television shows such as "Doctor Who" have brought the idea of time travel into the vernacular of popular culture. But problem of time travel is even more complicated than one might think. LSU's Mark Wilde has shown that it would theoretically be possible for time travelers to copy quantum data from the past. It all started when David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing and a physicist at Oxford, came up with a simplified model of time travel to deal with the paradoxes that would occur if one could travel back in time. "The question is, how would you have existed in the first place to go back in time and kill your grandfather?" Deutsch solved the Grandfather paradox originally using a slight change to quantum theory, proposing that you could change the past as long as you did so in a self-consistent manner. "Meaning that, if you kill your grandfather, you do it with only probability one-half," Wilde said. "We can always look at a paper, and then copy the words on it.

Should Pluto regain planet status? A Harvard science historian thinks so Poor pluto! The celestial body on the outskirts of our solar system has been jerked in and out of planet-dom. It is currently classified as a dwarf planet (thanks in part to Neil DeGrasse Tyson), and has ever sincne a vote in the International Astronomical Union (IAU) back in 2006. According to USA Today, Pluto, which was discovered in 1930, was deemed a dwarf planet “because there appeared to be a bunch of other big rocks just like Pluto out beyond the eighth planet (Neptune), all considered too puny to be called a planet.” Eight years after this demotion, Pluto is again at the center of attention, as some scientists want to return Pluto’s planetary-credentials. Owen Gingerich, a Harvard science historian, and chair of the IAU planet definition committee, stated at a forum last month that Pluto was a planet because, ”a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time.” That hasn’t stopped media excitement; everyone loves an underdog.

Quantum effects help cells capture light, but the details are obscure -- ScienceDaily Sophisticated recent experiments with ultrashort laser pulses support the idea that intuition-defying quantum interactions between molecules help plants, algae, and some bacteria efficiently gather light to fuel their growth. But key details of nature's vital light-harvesting mechanisms remain obscure, and the exact role that quantum physics may play in understanding them is more subtle than was once thought, according to an Overview Article in the January issue of BioScience. The article, by Jessica M. Anna and Gregory D. Quantum mechanics envisages particles as being smeared over regions of space, rather than being pointlike, and as interfering with each other like waves. Yet Anna and her colleagues point out that the molecular details of the light-gathering apparatus have evolved very differently in different species, so there is nothing simple about how organisms exploit quantum coherence.

Nature of Science The Nature of science (NOS) is an overarching theme in the biology, chemistry and physics courses. This section, titled “Nature of science”, is in the biology, chemistry and physics guides to support teachers in their understanding of what is meant by the nature of science. The “Nature of science” section of the guide provides a comprehensive account of the nature of science in the 21st century. It will not be possible to cover in this document all the themes in detail in the three science courses, either for teaching or assessment. It has a paragraph structure (1.1, 1.2, etc) to link the significant points made to the syllabus references on the NOS. Technology Although this section is about the nature of science, the interpretation of the word technology is important, and the role of technology emerging from and contributing to science needs to be clarified. 1. 1.1. 2. 2.1. 3. 3.1. 4. 4.1. 4.4. 5.

Time Travel Simulation Resolves “Grandfather Paradox” On June 28, 2009, the world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking threw a party at the University of Cambridge, complete with balloons, hors d'oeuvres and iced champagne. Everyone was invited but no one showed up. Hawking had expected as much, because he only sent out invitations after his party had concluded. It was, he said, "a welcome reception for future time travelers," a tongue-in-cheek experiment to reinforce his 1992 conjecture that travel into the past is effectively impossible. But Hawking may be on the wrong side of history. Recent experiments offer tentative support for time travel's feasibility—at least from a mathematical perspective. Closed timelike curves The source of time travel speculation lies in the fact that our best physical theories seem to contain no prohibitions on traveling backward through time. Deutsch's quantum solution to the grandfather paradox works something like this: Alternative reasoning Deutsch's model isn’t the only one around, however. More:

What Is Pseudoscience? Climate deniers are accused of practicing pseudoscience, as are intelligent design creationists, astrologers, UFOlogists, parapsychologists, practitioners of alternative medicine, and often anyone who strays far from the scientific mainstream. The boundary problem between science and pseudoscience, in fact, is notoriously fraught with definitional disagreements because the categories are too broad and fuzzy on the edges, and the term “pseudoscience” is subject to adjectival abuse against any claim one happens to dislike for any reason. In his 2010 book Nonsense on Stilts (University of Chicago Press), philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci concedes that there is “no litmus test,” because “the boundaries separating science, nonscience, and pseudoscience are much fuzzier and more permeable than Popper (or, for that matter, most scientists) would have us believe.” Princeton University historian of science Michael D.

You can't get entangled without a wormhole: Physicist finds entanglement instantly gives rise to a wormhole -- ScienceDaily Quantum entanglement is one of the more bizarre theories to come out of the study of quantum mechanics -- so strange, in fact, that Albert Einstein famously referred to it as "spooky action at a distance." Essentially, entanglement involves two particles, each occupying multiple states at once -- a condition referred to as superposition. For example, both particles may simultaneously spin clockwise and counterclockwise. But neither has a definite state until one is measured, causing the other particle to instantly assume a corresponding state. But what enables particles to communicate instantaneously -- and seemingly faster than the speed of light -- over such vast distances? Now an MIT physicist has found that, looked at through the lens of string theory, the creation of two entangled quarks -- the building blocks of matter -- simultaneously gives rise to a wormhole connecting the pair. The tangled web that is gravity This is where quantum entanglement could play a role.

Bioinformatician at large: My Emotions in Science First off, apologies that I have not blogged recently. This is because I have been pushing hard on a large, consortium paper, and it felt bad to have a public evidence of not working on it when I was asking many other people for pretty continuous effort over a protracted period of months. This is not entirely logical - we all actually need some diversity in what we do scientifically, even when we're on a big push, but somehow makes sense sociologically. That consortium paper has (finally!) Here are my "big emotions" in science. The relief - of a large body of work done. The thrill - of when you see a new result for the first time. The satisfaction - of removing a bug in the code. The frustration - of not understanding something. The 'aha' - of gaining new understanding. The delight - in learning about a new area of science, explained by a excellent scientist. The 'esprit de corps' feeling when a group scientists in an area come together.

Freaky Physics Experiment May Prove Our Universe Is A Two-Dimensional Hologram Everyone knows the universe exists in three dimensions, right? Maybe not. For some time now serious physicists have been pondering the seemingly absurd possibility that three-dimensional space is merely an illusion--and that we actually live in a two-dimensional "hologram." And now scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois have launched a mind-blowing experiment to show once and for all what sort of universe we live in. "We want to find out whether space-time is a quantum system just like matter is," Dr. According to quantum theory's uncertainty principle, it's impossible to know both the precise location and the exact velocity of a subatomic particle. The 21 scientists involved in the experiment will look for the jitter with the help of an exquisitely sensitive device known as a Holometer. (Story continues below images.) A close-up of the Holometer at Fermilab. The holometer includes two interferometers in 6-inch steel tubes about 40 meters long.

The 20 big questions in science | Science 1 What is the universe made of? Astronomers face an embarrassing conundrum: they don't know what 95% of the universe is made of. Atoms, which form everything we see around us, only account for a measly 5%. Over the past 80 years it has become clear that the substantial remainder is comprised of two shadowy entities – dark matter and dark energy. 2 How did life begin? Four billion years ago, something started stirring in the primordial soup. 3 Are we alone in the universe? Perhaps not. 4 What makes us human? Just looking at your DNA won't tell you – the human genome is 99% identical to a chimpanzee's and, for that matter, 50% to a banana's. 5 What is consciousness? We're still not really sure. 6 Why do we dream? We spend around a third of our lives sleeping. 7 Why is there stuff? You really shouldn't be here. 8 Are there other universes? Our universe is a very unlikely place. 9 Where do we put all the carbon? 10 How do we get more energy from the sun? 11 What's so weird about prime numbers?