Category Archives: Posts In English

a sad sad day

I got to know Terry Pratchett through his books while I was in the US. It was a used book store that I saw a paperback titled Small Gods. I liked the cover, the description was quite interesting and that’s how it all began… Now, I am at the moment one third of the way having read the Discworld series books. I always thought that at the rate Terry was writing books I could not keep up with reading all of them. Sadly, one of his favorite characters, Death, decided he liked him a bit too much. Now at least I can catch up.

RIP Terry…

RIP Terry

Greek school winning CERN beam line competition

Many congratulations to Odysseus’ Comrades the Greek school team from Varvakios Pilot School in Athens, for being one of the two winning teams of CERN’s beam line for schools competition!

Odysseus’ Comrades are a team of 12. Their proposal is to look at the decay of charged pions (particles containing a quark and an antiquark) to investigate the weak force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.

An extract from their proposal A Nature’s Preference:

Weak force keeps the Sun and the other stars glowing and gives life to life. Studying the history of particle physics we found out that weak force was the motive power for major discoveries in CERN: pion decay to electron, neutral currents, W and Z and recently Higgs boson. So in relation to 60th anniversary of CERN we decided to propose an experiment related to a peculiar property of weak force, namely its preference to left-handed particles and right-handed antiparticles.

Their presentation video:

Today’s CERN Press Release

Enjoy the journey people! Πολλά μπράβο!

Acronyms

Physicists here at CERN love acronyms! Some of them are complete tongue-twisters (try pronouncing MWRG!), others sound not awfully bad (like CRUZET or CRAFT). Learning these fast is a big challenge for newcomers 🙂

CMS

This not-so-great photo shows the path the protons follow before they collide at the very center of the CMS detector (which is just a couple of meters from where this photo was taken). In a few weeks, the so-called Beam Pipe will be placed here and radially outwards the CMS Silicon Tracker will take its rightful place as the CMS detector is preparing for the startup of the Large Hadron Collider.

Now, why do I write all this? Well, while sitting in a meeting I heard these three coming up in the discussion and felt a bit nostalgic. Last time I had heard them was in 2009 when we were again preparing for an LHC start up. Interesting times.

De-obfuscation:

MWRG : Mid-Week Global Run (preparatory test runs performed weekly as detectors are being commissioned)

CRUZET : Cosmic RUn at ZEro Tesla (full CMS-wide test run with the magnet off, without beam, but looking at particles offered to us for free by cosmic radiation)

CRAFT : Cosmic Run At Four Tesla (full CMS-wide test run with the magnet ON, again using cosmic radiation particles)

Nobel in Physics 2014 (?)

A spectacular discovery was announced a couple of days ago by the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) telescope which is located at the South Pole with an aim to measure the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

They announced the observation of evidence for cosmic inflation to a statistical certainty of 3σ. Inflation is a period of extremely rapid expansion of the very early universe during which its volume increased by a factor of up to 1080 in a small fraction of a second. The way to understand what happened back then is to measure the remnants of that period, what we call today the CMB. The CMB was discovers by radio astronomers Penzias and Wilson (1978 Nobel Prize) and in the words of Dr. Torsten Enßlin:

The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today.

BICEP2 finds first direct evidence of cosmic inflation [physicsworld]

Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun [nytimes]

Here’s the reaction of Stanford Professor Andrei Linde, a theorist who is one of the main authors of the inflationary universe theory when he hears about the news: