ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "particle physics"

But Seriously...

Particle Fever, I’ve Got It!

LHC

By now, I hope you’ve heard about Particle Fever. It premiered a few weeks ago – if I remember correctly, the same week as Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new Cosmos premiered. What a great week for science in the mass media. While it hasn’t gotten quite as much attention as Cosmos, it deserves to! It’s a [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Physicists Look Beyond the Large Hadron Collider, to the Very Large Hadron Collider

In 1954 the renowned physicist Enrico Fermi did a simple but depressing calculation about future particle accelerators. To create particles with an energy of 3 teraelectron-volts, he estimated, you’d have to build a ring 8,000 kilometers in radius at a cost of $170 billion. It was a rare instance of Fermi being wrong. The Large [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Gravitational Waves Reveal the Universe before the Big Bang: An Interview with Physicist Gabriele Veneziano

It’s not usually put like this, but the discovery of primordial gravitational waves two weeks ago has given us our first direct glimpse of a period before the big bang. The term “big bang” is sometimes taken to mean the beginning of the universe, and that’s the impression you get from diagrams such as the [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

When the Large Hadron Collider Is Too Small

The Large Hadron Collider has only just begun its explorations, so it might seem a little premature to begin thinking about what new particle projects might come next. But given how long these things take to plan, is it ever too soon? This summer, particle physicists held a huge planning retreat in Minneapolis, which Peter [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Can We Resolve Quantum Paradoxes by Stepping Out of Space and Time? [Guest Post]

Next month will be the 100th anniversary of Bohr’s model of the atom, one of the foundations of the theory of quantum mechanics. And look where we are now: we still don’t know what the darned theory really means. One of the most radical interpretations (which is saying something) has got to be the so-called [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

How to Build Your Own Quantum Entanglement Experiment, Part 2 (of 2)

In my last post, I scrounged the parts for a very crude, but very cool, experiment you can do in your basement to demonstrate quantum entanglement. To my knowledge, it’s the cheapest and simplest such experiment ever done. It doesn’t give publishable results, but, to appropriate a line from Samuel Johnson, a homebrew entanglement experiment [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

How to Build Your Own Quantum Entanglement Experiment, Part 1 (of 2)

Geiger counter

Quantum entanglement experiments are not something you can buy in the science kit aisle at Toys ’R Us. The cheapest kit I know of is a marvel of miniaturization, but still costs 20,000 euros. In the past month, though, I’ve put together a crude version for just a few hundred dollars. It’s unbelievably simple—so simple [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Physicists Find a Backdoor Way to Do Experiments on Exotic Gravitational Physics

The whole point of an explanation is to reduce something you don’t know to something you do. By that standard, you don’t gain much by explaining anything in terms of black holes. Appealing to the most mysterious objects known to science as an explanation sounds like using one mystery to explain another. Yet this is [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

When You Fall into a Black Hole, How Long Have You Got?

In chatting with colleagues after a talk this week, Joe Polchinski said he’d love to fall into a black hole. Most theoretical physicists would. It’s not because they have some peculiar death wish or because science funding prospects are so dark these days. They are just insanely curious about what would happen. Black holes are [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

Hacking the Quantum: A New Book Explains How Anyone Can Become an Amateur Quantum Physicist

For years I’ve been thinking and hoping that quantum physics would become the next hacker revolution. DIYers in their basements, garages, and hackerspaces have already pioneered radio communications, PCs, household robots, and cheap 3-D printers—why not quantum entanglement, cryptography, computers, and teleportation? In recent years, physics educators have streamlined quantum experiments to the point where [...]

Keep reading »
Critical Opalescence

How to Build the World’s Simplest Particle Detector

In about 10 minutes, using stuff you probably already have lying around your house, you can watch atomic nuclei and elementary particles for yourself using a diffusion cloud chamber—a rudimentary particle detector. There are lots of websites and YouTube videos giving step-by-step instructions to build such a chamber, but all require some component that’s hard [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Scientists Find First Neutrinos from Distant Space [Video]

IceCube

The world has heard the first faint whispers of the most powerful cataclysms in the universe. Scientists working on the IceCube experiment in Antarctica report that they have found 28 neutrinos that must have come to earth from explosions in the distant universe—the first time scientists have found neutrinos coming from outside our own solar [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

5 Unanswered Questions That Will Keep Physicists Awake at Night

Orion Nebula photo

Physics is all about probing the most fundamental mysteries in nature, so it’s no surprise that physicists have some very basic questions about the universe on their minds. Recently, Symmetry Magazine (published by two U.S.-government funded physics labs) asked a group of particle physicists to name the open questions in physics they most want answers [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

The Fingerprints the Higgs Leaves Behind

The Higgs at Last

Tomorrow, the Nobel prize in physics will most likely be awarded to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert. Along with other researchers, the two physicists are credited with the 1964 introduction of the then-theoretical Higgs field—a fluid that permeates every corner of the universe and gives each particle a distinct mass. The physical manifestation of this [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Particles and the People Who Love Them: Documentary Shows Human Side of Large Hadron Collider

Particle Fever poster

Full disclosure: I cried at a movie about particle physics. And I wasn’t alone. As the film showed footage of the July 4, 2012 announcement of the Higgs boson discovery, I noticed the woman next to me wiping her eyes just as I was doing the same. I was at a screening of the new [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Move Over, Space Shuttle: There’s a New Science Giant Cruising the U.S. This Summer

Muon g-2 storage ring

When NASA flew the shuttle prototype Enterprise through New York City last year, all we had to do was look out our windows at Scientific American one morning to watch it cruise past. Countless Americans got a look at one of the decommissioned shuttles as NASA paraded them around the country en route to their [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

It’s Official: We’ve Found the Higgs Boson–but Which One?

Potential Higgs to photon decay event as seen by the CMS experiment at the LHC

When last we checked in on the hunt for the Higgs, physicists weren’t yet ready to call the deal done. They were only willing to say that they had discovered a new particle—some sort of boson—and that this new boson was “Higgs-like.” Their reticence hinged on the measurement of the new particle’s spin, a fundamental [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Have Scientists Found 2 Different Higgs Bosons?

Higgs boson

A month ago scientists at the Large Hadron Collider released the latest Higgs boson results. And although the data held few obvious surprises, most intriguing were the results that scientists didn’t share. The original Higgs data from back in July had shown that the Higgs seemed to be decaying into two photons more often than [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Relative Masses of 7-Billion-Year-Old Protons and Electrons Confirmed to Match Those of Today’s Particles

100-m dish of Effelsberg radio telescope

The mass of the proton in relation to its much lighter counterpart, the electron, is known to great precision: the proton has 1836.152672 times the mass of the electron. But has it always been so? Quite possibly, according to new research which taps the cosmos as a vast fundamental-physics laboratory. A study of a distant [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Why Do Physicists Care So Much about Finding the Higgs Boson?

higgs boson event display

If you’ve read anything about the Higgs boson, you probably know that this particle is special because it can explain how fundamental particles acquire mass. Specifically, evidence of the boson is evidence that an omnipresent Higgs field exists—one that slows particles down and makes them heavy. But there’s a misconception that sometimes creeps into this [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

New Higgs Results Bring Relief—and Disappointment

Potential Higgs to photon decay event as seen by the CMS experiment at the LHC

This past July, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that they had discovered a new particle that looked much like the long-sought-after Higgs boson. In fact, the Higgs-like particle they found was nearly perfect—based on the available data, it looked almost exactly like what the Standard Model of Particle Physics predicts the Higgs to [...]

Keep reading »
PsiVid

Chat with Particle Fever’s Monica Dunford

monica_dunford

If you’ve seen the movie, Particle Fever (You haven’t? You can get it live streaming on iTunes today, and at other VOD services July 15), then you are acquainted with the ebullient American physicist Monica Dunford, an experimental high-energy particle physicist who helped bring the ATLAS detector at CERN into operation for the first Large Hadron [...]

Keep reading »
PsiVid

Particle Fever: A Movie About the LHC Comes to US Theaters March 5

particleFever_poster-small-200x300

“Imagine being able to watch as Edison turned on the first light bulb, or as Franklin received his first jolt of electricity.” -Particle Fever: With One Switch, Everything Changes. A few months back a new movie, an important one in the field of science, and a delight to particle physicists everywhere, debuted at the New [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Physics Hasn’t Looked This Hot Since The Big Bang

13-032FEATURE

The ATLAS detector at CERN is overwhelming to mere mortals like myself. It’s one of four detectors along the Large Hadron Collider designed to detect the most fundamental particles in our universe. It sits in a cave 92 meters below ground, is over 45 meters long and weighs a mere 7000 metric tons (that’s equivalent [...]

Keep reading »
Talking back

Higgsteria: We Didn’t Need No U.S. Supercollider

“Europe Overtakes U.S. in Physics Pursuing God Particle,” the headline blared. The Bloomberg News story declared that the home of Galileo and Newton has recaptured the lead in physics with its pursuit of the Higgs boson, a place in the scientific firmament that was once indisputably owned by the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin. The story [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Dinosaurs

Get Total Access to our Digital Anthology

1,200 Articles

Order Now - Just $39! >

X

Email this Article

X