Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Physics: nothing to sneeze at

For me, the early spring is definitely something to sneeze at. Pollen count is through the roof. (It must be, because it's getting to me indoors.)

Pollen. I'm not a fan.
But today's musings are neither a paean to pollen (say that quickly five times) nor a jeremiad. It's a collection of physics news -- all Really Neat Things -- well within the ambit of this blog. While my head does its best to explode (my free advice: don't watch ... especially if you've ever seen Scanners), here's some fare of likely interest:

Beginning with a second result from CERN -- independent of last September's startling report -- measuring neutrino speed. This time the elusive neutrinos were clocked at light speed (as expected), not a hair above. See "The Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos Debate Rages On" and "Adagio, OPERA."

Not everyone finds neutrinos as interesting as I. And so we recently learned that "DOE Scraps Plans for Neutrino Experiment in Mine." To cut to the heart of the matter:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is putting the brakes on the development of a gigantic experiment seen as the flagship project for the next decade at the country's sole particle physics laboratory.
Because the focus of the DOE these days isn't research, or energy, it's being green. And losing money on ill-chosen start-up solar firms. And cheering on higher gas prices. Sigh.

Earth's magnetosphere at work
New physics topic. Electric fields and magnetic fields have always been like Siamese twins: indeed, the field of study is electromagnetism. You can't have one type of field without the other (or which field type you experience depends upon your frame of reference -- quirky relativity stuff). But maybe that's going to change. See "Exotic material boosts electromagnetism safely."

And at the quantum frontier, from MIT researcher Scott Aaronson, here's a chance to make some real money. See: "Why I'm Wagering $100,000 on Quantum Computing."

$100K? That's nothing to sneeze at ...

No comments: