An amusing project from NIST for using a LEGO “Watt balance” — the device used in the recently updated definition of the kilogram — to measure Planck’s constant h. I’ll be firing this one up at home, for sure!
Following on from the 2015 Nobel Prize, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory has just been awarded the 2016 Breakthrough Prize:
The Physics prize is shared amongst multiple collaborations, including SNO, Super-K, K2K, KamLAND, and Daya Bay.
(As you all know, I did my graduate work on SNO. I also worked for a year on Daya Bay shortly before coming to Otterbein.)
Neutrinos continue their glorious ascendency.
A new experiment carried out in the Netherlands has confirmed the “spooky action at a distance” that is a central feature of quantum mechanics. There have been several such confirmations, going back to the early 1980s, but this is is the first one that simultaneously closes all the loopholes that might arise. It may therefore be the final blow to the idea — championed by Einstein and Bell, among others — that quantum mechanics is incomplete and there might be local “hidden variables.”
The preprint version of the paper is available here.
Last week Dr. Reinhard and his students detected ultracold rubidium atoms in a magneto-optical trap for the first time. The atoms, seen below with an infrared sensitive camera, have a temperature of about 100 micro Kelvin, or about a million times colder than room temperature. For reference, the surface of the sun is only about 20 times hotter than room temperature.
Interesting and inspiring article on the (history and) future of physics by Frank Wilczek.
OP2: Operation Physics, a crash course in physics for middle school science teachers, is underway now at Otterbein. The course features many hands-on activities and the teachers receive loads of gear for teaching science. The program is supported by a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, and is in its 6th year at Otterbein.
A student riding in a train looks up and sees Einstein sitting next to him. Excited, he asks, “Excuse me, professor. Does Boston stop at this train?”
On May 21, 2015 proton beams were collided together in the Large Hadron Collider at the record energy of 13 TeV, as the LHC restarts after extensive upgrades over the past two years. This is the total energy in the center-of-mass frame, so each beam contains protons of energy 6.5 TeV. That’s about 6,500 times the rest energy of a proton (roughly 1 GeV), hence the relativistic gamma factor for these protons is about 6,500.
Read the CERN article on this important milestone here.
CMS and Atlas, the two big experimental collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider, have joined forces to produce the most accurate determination of the Higgs boson mass to date. By combining their data sets they obtained
for a relative error of about 0.2%. The paper in Physical Review Letters describing these results has the longest author list ever: 5,154 names. In the published version, there are 9 pages describing the research and 24 pages of authors and their affiliations.
Read the associated APS Physics Viewpoint article here.
Lots of great points in this article, including the perhaps counter-intuitive one that there is often a greater opportunity for meaningful research experiences at small institutions than at large, research-oriented universities.