Science for the People: Bruno Pontecorvo

sftpThis Science for the People, we’re digging into a tale of intrigue that may have changed the course of physics research in the 20th century. We’ll spend the hour with Frank Close, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, talking about his book Half-Life: The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy. We’ll learn about Pontecorvo’s groundbreaking career in particle physics, his defection to the Soviet Union, and the accusations that he traded nuclear secrets at the height of the Cold War.

Science Caturday: The Latest from the LHC


Big news in tiny particles: the Large Hadron Collider has set a new energy record ahead of its scheduled full restart in June.  Scientists at CERN reported that on May 20, the LHC succeeded in smashing together protons with an energy of 13 trillion electron volts (TeV). That’s close to the 14 TeV maximum that the LHC is designed to achieve.

The record was reached during tests to prepare for a second run of experiments starting next month. The collider underwent a $150 million upgrade after its first run, which produced results that helped confirm the existence of the Higgs boson.

Our physics kitties tend to have substantially lower energy levels than that, but the Large Hairball Collider (pictured above) looks likely to yield important data on particles found under the sofa. The red dot, the so-called “holy grail” of kitty physics, remains elusive. Reached for comment, the head of the LHBC said:


Doing the things that a particle can…

Particle Clicker is a simple and addictive click-based game developed by undergrads at CERN Webfest. You are cast as the head of a particle accelerator lab striving to make breakthroughs in physics, without all the grant writing and begging governments for money.

Screenshot 2014-08-15 21.01.52

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing – I particularly enjoyed the smashed particle paths when you click on the detector, it is full of information about the physics phenomena you are investigating and humor about the research process.

In its current iteration, the gameplay can get repetitive, but it is well worth at least one play through, if only to read all the information boxes. Also, once you have accumulated enough competent staff, you can simply sit back and let the data accumulate while you enjoy the easy life of a high-profile PI1.

1. According to reports, this is only an easy life by the standards of graduate students and post-docs with no hopes of advancement on their traditional career path.

SOURCE: Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.

Science for The People: Ephemeral Particles

#267 - Ephemeral Particles
#267 – Ephemeral Particles

This week Science for The People learns about some of the many invisible particles that surround us. They speak to astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana about his book “Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe.” And they talk to ecology professor Donald Canfield about his book “Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History.”

The Art of Science: A Peek at Particle Physics

Photo by Joseph Boccio

Ten of the world’s leading particle physics facilities invited hundreds of photographers, amateur and professional, for a behind-the-scenes look in September 2012.  The InterActions Physics Photowalk, an annual event, allowed photographers to visit top labs, including Brookhaven National Lab in New York, Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, Chilbolton Observatory in the U.K., and TRIUMF in Canada.  An international panel selected this shot by Joseph Paul Boccio of the KLOE detector at Italy’s Frascati National Laboratory as the top prizewinner. Continue reading “The Art of Science: A Peek at Particle Physics”