Murray Gell-Mann

Sad to learn that Murray Gell-Mann, pioneer of particle physics and more, has died at the age of 89. 

Murray Gell-Mann having a little think, as potrayed by Toya Walker,

Murray Gell-Mann, as potrayed by Toya Walker

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Mosquitos and Toblerones

A couple of years ago I went to see Lucy Kirkwood’s play Mosquitos at the National Theatre.

It starred Olivia Coleman and Olivia Williams, who were both brilliant, and was set largely in and around CERN. There was a lot in it. Even though one of the characters is styled as the Higgs boson, although the play has a few themes and is not primarily a “science” play. It’s about family, motivation, people, and is very funny in places. The CERN context is important and relevant however, and its authenticity was firmly established with a joke about always bringing back a Toblerone from the airport. Which brings me finally to this:

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The Universe Speaks in Numbers

I have reviewed Graham Farmelo’s new book for Nature.

You can find the full review here.

Mathematics, physics and the relationship between the two is a fascinating topic which sparks much discussion. The review only came out this morning and has already sparked a flurry of emails. Generally I’d prefer it if the discussion were to be held in the comments here rather than my inbox.

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Posted in History, Physics, Physics Stories, Science, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exploring the “Higgs Portal”

The Higgs boson is unique. Does it open a door to Dark Matter?

All known fundamental particles acquire mass by interacting with the Higgs boson. Actually, more correctly, they interact with a quantum field which is present even in “empty” space, and the Higgs boson itself is an “excitation” – a quantum ripple – in that field. Either way, what this means is that if you create a Higgs boson, it can and will decay, producing other particles, via those same interactions.

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Posted in Astrophysics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science | Tagged , , ,