Natural units

Physics is all about describing physical quantities. Whether it’s length, velocity, force, electric current or heat flux, it takes physics to describe what it is and what it does. Central to this is our system of units. The three really common base units (in the S.I. system) are the metre (unit of length), the second […]

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The inverse femtobarn

Tomorrow I’m going to Te Aroha to give a talk to their continuing education group on the Large Hadron Collider. This is something I foolishly agreed to do many months ago (maybe it was even last year) before I realized how much lecturing I had this semester. Still, I’ve given the talk a few times […]

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Physics discoveries

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the comment I made yesterday that there used to be a time that physics discoveries were made by people but now we just need to build a machine to do it (the LHC).  The major science discoveries, almost by definition, are unexpected and can be very serendipitous. The […]

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Climate change and conferences

Back on-line now after a week in Melbourne at the Australian Institute of Physics conference. I have lots of good stuff to blog about, including optomechanics (using light to cause vibrations), physics education (lots on this), the Large Hadron Collider and complicated models of things that might not even exist, but I’ll do this one on climate […]

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What’s cooking at the LHC?

I’ve just been perusing CERN’s Twitter site http://www.twitter.com/cern for some of their latest news. While the Higgs is still hiding inside some time-travelling baguette, there’s still some really nice physics arising. This example is one that caught my attention – it’s the detection of a bound state made up of a beauty (or bottom) quark […]

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Quarks Galore

Here’s a nice example of some particle physics from the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. http://lhcb-public.web.cern.ch/lhcb-public/Images_2010/BsDsMuNu.png (taken from the LHCb news page at http://lhcb-public.web.cern.ch/lhcb-public/ ) The picture shows an unfortunately-named Bs particle (for Beauty Strange), produced as a result of a 7 TeV proton-proton collision. This particle doesn’t live long; it decays into a Ds+ […]

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Collisions at the LHC

While I’ve been away the Large Hadron Collider has been busy smashing protons together, and is now beginning to acquire some data that will be making some PhD students very happy. This is one of the images that has been released by CERN: (see http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1255405) It shows a collision in the ATLAS detector  (the largest […]

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ET home phone

This month’s feature article in PhysicsWorld is a plea by well-known science (particularly physics) writer Paul Davies to relaunch (or rather, expand) the search for extra-terrestrial life.  The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been around for nearly fifty years, focusing on analyzing data from radio telescopes.  But Paul Davies thinks there are other places […]

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