Gravitational Waves

One of my undergraduate students has been researching gravitational waves this year. Last Friday, he gave a nice presentation on the subject. Gravitational waves are one of the many examples of waves in physics. We are perhaps more used to waves on the surface of water, or waves along a guitar string, or electromagnetic waves […]

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Large Hadron Collider activity

Activity is really hotting up (should that be ‘cooling down’?) at CERN as the Large Hadron Collider is prepared again for proton-proton collisions, hopefully in November. Most of the beam tunnel is now at operating temperature (1.9 K), with the rest expected to be ready very soon. I would expect to see the collider hitting mainstream […]

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What’s happening in Geneva?

In the last few days I’ve had a couple of people ask what is happening with the Large Hadron Collider. Well, if you want the latest news, you can grab the press releases from http://lhc.web.cern.ch/lhc/News.htm . In short, they are doing various tests, and finding and addressing various problems as they arise. It now looks like November […]

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What’s in a name?

Last Monday I gave another talk on the Large Hadron Collider, this time in Tauranga. It led to the usual kind of questions (like what is a Higgs Boson?, how fast are these protons going?, how can they be 100% sure it is safe, etc), plus a few less obvious ones, like could they use […]

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Money, money, money

I’ve just been reading in ‘Physics World’ magazine (IOP publishing, physicsworld.com) of one of the less well-known side effects of the delay on the Large Hadron Collider: many PhD students, who hoped by now to have that final bit of data to conclude their PhD theses, are stuck.  A PhD is a research degree – […]

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Mass and the Higgs Boson

In the minds of many, the name ‘Large Hadron Collider’ is linked with the words ‘Higgs Boson’. And so it should be – one of the aims of the LHC is to find (or not to find) this mysterious particle. But what is the Higgs boson? It’s to do with mass. In broad terms, mass […]

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Whatever happened to the LHC?

I gave a talk to the Hamilton Astronomical Society last night on the Large Hadron Collider. It was all very topical back in September, when it was ‘switched on’, but following its breakdown soon later it has rather faded from the popular press. So what is happening now? The simple answer is that it is […]

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Under pressure

I got some new taps for my kitchen yesterday. The boring technical specitications on that bit of paper marked ‘important – please read’ said ‘do not exceed a pressure of 800 kpa’.  Now, leaving aside the fact that it should be ‘kPa’ not ‘kpa’, that means 800 kilopascals. A pascal is the pressure caused by 1 […]

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