What Is the Higgs Boson and Why Do I Care?

July 4, 2012

With today’s announcement of what could be the first evidence of the discovery of a Higgs boson, I thought it would be a good idea to write out some things that I’ve noticed the media has missed in its coverage of what happened and how.

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Brian Bunton and the Thrill of Discovery

March 26, 2011

A first step toward becoming a celebrity physicist by one of our own… After he deals with the thrill of discovery we can only presume that the Chamber of Secrets is next.

Doing it the Hard Way

October 15, 2010

How the game ball arrived for Michigan State’s 34-17 shellacking of Michigan last Saturday:

Almost as practical as Homer’s vision of what goes on behind the scenes at a bowling ally:

In very tangentially related news, Michigan will play Alabama at Cowboys stadium in 2012. Michigan might actually have a defense by then (seven freshman starters are part of this year’s last in the FBS unit) and if Denard Robinson is still playing for a scholarship it might be a great game.

Logic (nsfw)

October 9, 2010

Study Design

September 15, 2010

The Standard Model is the Duke Basketball of Physics

August 24, 2010

As I was reading an article on quantum mechanics in New Scientist the other day, Ann asked me why I still read quantum mechanics articles since the pace of discovery has slowed so much. I told her that mostly I was hoping that a flaw with the standard model might be found, opening up at least the possibility of new physics and cool technologies. Today it occurred to me that I am a standard model hater. Just as Duke draws television viewers hoping to see them lose, I am hoping to see the standard model fail.

This should sound familiar: Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the amazing achievement that the standard model represents. I am not trying to disparage it. I just would like to see it upset.

So it was with a bit of glee that I heard about the following series of papers. Apparently the decay rates for heavy isotopes varies slightly as the earth orbits the sun. This variation is consistent with the position of the earth relative to the sun and may be consistent with the rotation of the core of the sun, assuming that that rotation is slightly slower than the surface. What’s really cool is that the decay rates seem to alter a day and a half before solar flares hit the earth, implying a wave of faster moving particles washing over the earth’s surface. What they are and how they interact with nuclear decay are unknown.

As in His Master’s Voice, the discovery was made after searching for a good random number generator.

Solving Conference Realignment Mathematically

June 14, 2010

When I read this article at fivethirtyeight.com, I immediately thought of this site.

So, how y’all been?