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Quantum Diaries (Thoughts on work and life from particle physicists from around the world.)

Quantum Diaries (Thoughts on work and life from particle physicists from around the world.)
A version of this article appeared in symmetry on April 8, 2014. Physicist Aaron Chou keeps the Holometer experiment—which looks for a phenomenon whose implications border on the unreal—grounded in the realities of day-to-day operations. Photo: Reidar Hahn The beauty of the small operation—the mom-and-pop restaurant or the do-it-yourself home repair—is that pragmatism begets creativity. The industrious individual who makes do with limited resources is compelled onto paths of ingenuity, inventing rather than following rules to address the project’s peculiarities. As project manager for the Holometer experiment at Fermilab, physicist Aaron Chou runs a show that, though grandiose in goal, is remarkably humble in setup.

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Gravitational lens A gravitational lens refers to a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant source and an observer, that is capable of bending the light from the source, as it travels towards the observer. This effect is known as gravitational lensing and the amount of bending is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.[1] (Classical physics also predicts bending of light, but only half that of general relativity's.[2]) Although Orest Chwolson (1924) or Frantisek Klin (1936) are sometimes credited as being the first ones to discuss the effect in print, the effect is more commonly associated with Einstein, who published a more famous article on the subject in 1936. Fritz Zwicky posited in 1937 that the effect could allow galaxy clusters to act as gravitational lenses.

Accelerators The Large Hadron Collider is latest member of CERN's collection of extraordinary high-energy facilities and is the world's largest and highest-energy accelerator. It occupies a 27 kilometer circumference circular tunnel near Geneva which overlaps the Swiss-French border, the same tunnel that contains the LEP. Successful particle beams were produced in the LHC in 2008 and in 2010 the two beams reached 3.5 TeV, half the target maximum for the accelerator. Currently the work at the LHC is divided into six experiments denoted by the names ATLAS, CMS, ALICE, LHCb, TOTEM and LHCf. A major current objective for the LHC is the search for the Higgs boson. Announcements as of November 2011 suggest that the energy range for the Higgs boson has been narrowed to between 114 and 141 GeV.

579 - A 1939 Map of Physics Geography was my favourite subject in school; physics the one I disliked the most. If only I’d known about this Map of Physics! This spatial representation of the subject, dating from 1939, defines itself as Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring sould who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip. Perhaps, by representing physics as a continent and its main branches as rivers, it would have made that vast, mysterious subject more graspable to a mind more attuned to geography. Sounds like we need a new map!

Gravitational microlensing Gravitational microlensing is an astronomical phenomenon due to the gravitational lens effect. It can be used to detect objects ranging from the mass of a planet to the mass of a star, regardless of the light they emit. Typically, astronomers can only detect bright objects that emit lots of light (stars) or large objects that block background light (clouds of gas and dust). These objects make up only a tiny fraction of the mass of a galaxy.

News in Brief: Particle caught flip-flopping A particle with an identity crisis could provide the next big discovery at the world's largest particle accelerator. The D meson has been caught in the act of flipping between matter and antimatter, researchers report online March 5 in Physical Review Letters. D mesons, like other mesons, are short-lived particles that emerge from the shrapnel of proton collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva. All of these particles decay within tiny fractions of a second. But four mesons, including the D, occasionally do something strange first: They become antiparticles. In the same vein, anti-D mesons can switch and become mesons before they decay. FAQ Frequently Asked Questions about HAARP General Questions about HAARP What is HAARP? HAARP stands for The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. The goal of this program is to further advance our knowledge of the physical and electrical properties of the Earth's ionosphere which can affect our military and civilian communication and navigation systems. The HAARP program operates a world-class ionospheric research facility located in Gakona, Alaska. Physics World reveals its top 10 breakthroughs for 2011 The two physics stories that dominated the news in 2011 were questions rather than solid scientific results, namely "Do neutrinos travel faster than light?" and "Has the Higgs boson been found?". However, there have also been some fantastic bona fide research discoveries over the last 12 months, which made it difficult to decide on the Physics World 2011 Breakthrough of the Year. But after much debate among the Physics World editorial team, this year's honour goes to Aephraim Steinberg and colleagues from the University of Toronto in Canada for their experimental work on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.

What is 3D Printing? An Overview. You’ve heard of 3D printing from newscasters and journalists, astonished at what they’ve witnessed. A machine reminiscent of the Star Trek Replicator, something magical that can create objects out of thin air. It can “print” in plastic, metal, nylon, and over a hundred other materials. What is in the Data? The Higgs Boson Explained as Live Infographics Jorge Cham, the cartoonist behind the Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD Comics) has illustrated a very educational interview with Daniel Whiteson, Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine at CERN. The resulting movie titled "What is in the Data? The Higgs Boson Explained" only takes about 7-minutes, yet contains sufficient material to ponder for the rest of your life...

10 Strange Things About The Universe Space The universe can be a very strange place. While groundbreaking ideas such as quantum theory, relativity and even the Earth going around the Sun might be commonly accepted now, science still continues to show that the universe contains things you might find it difficult to believe, and even more difficult to get your head around. Theoretically, the lowest temperature that can be achieved is absolute zero, exactly ?273.15°C, where the motion of all particles stops completely.

The 3D Printer Experience Opens In Chicago The evolution of technology has already changed life as we know it. One retail destination in River North plans to make the Windy City known for its support of a growing tech industry that is revolutionizing manufacturing. Beginning Monday, April 22, Chicagoans will have the opportunity to explore this technological innovation firsthand at The 3D Printer Experience (316 N. Clark Street), a 3D printing destination with a focus on experiential education, creation and innovation.

About the Kavli Prize “The Kavli Prizes recognize three scientific areas we believe are exceptionally exciting in the 21st Century and at the brink of remarkable discoveries – astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. Created to honor, support and recognize scientists whose work have had a profound impact in these areas, through these Prizes we also hope to raise people's awareness of the benefits of basic science in their own lives.” — Fred Kavli, founder of The Kavli Foundation