Guardian Science Weekly Podcast

Along Guardian Science correspondent Hannah Devlin, I discussed the flavour anomalies from LHCb with Madeleine Finlay for the Guardian Science Weekly podcast.

It is titled “Will the Large Hadron Collider find a new fifth force of nature?“. Hannah gives a nice introduction to the Standard Model and its limitations, and then we go into how the evidence for new physical phenomena are actually probed at the LHC.

The discussion moves to the more general topic of exploration at the LHC with all the experiments and with direct studies, although it may sound a bit as though I’m working on LHCb, which I am not, I’m sticking with ATLAS and these kind of differential cross section measurements, which will throw some light on possible explanations for the lepton flavour physics, of course.

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The clues that tell us when the Universe began

All being well, I’ll be in CERN tomorrow for the first time since the end of 2019. Given how routine this used to be, I am surprisingly nervous and excited (and less surprisingly resentful of the extra brexit-induced paperwork involved). The main reason is a Scientific Policy Committee meeting (where I am an observer on behalf of the UK delegation) followed by a trip to Grenoble to work with some collaborators and give a colloquium. Amongst those collaborators are Mohammad and Ingo, who I worked with on this paper. Mohammad was supposed to visit UCL as an MCnet student in 2020, but Covid intervened of course. This week I’m looking forward to meeting him in person for the first time. Another step towards business as previous/usual I guess.

After the LHC restart and the W mass kerfuffle last week (which will both obviously have longer-term consequences), here’s some cosmology. I am not a cosmologist, but then my cosmology friends comment on particle physics so I think this is allowed. Anyway, the article for BBC Focus is very big-picture-beginner-level stuff. If I can understand it, probably everyone else can too. Which is the goal, of course.

The two simple clues that tell us when the Universe began
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On the new CDF measurement of the W boson mass

Just before the LHC Run 3 restart, the big news in particle physics was (and probably still is) the new measurement of the mass of the W boson from the CDF experiment. I talked about it a week ago at the postposed-from-Christsmas-due-to-Omicron Nine Lessons for Curious people (see picture below, live Feynman-diagram drawing FTW.) What I said is also pretty well summarised in an article I wrote for BBC Science Focus:

W boson: Is the new measurement for the subatomic particle’s mass the first chink in the armour of the Standard Model?.

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LHC Run 3, the beginning

Today will be a busy day at CERN, with beams scheduled to go around the Large Hadron Collider tunnel, a big step towards the start of “Run 3”. This comes after a long, three year shutdown where, while struggling with challenges from COVID and the invasion of one of our associate member states by a (now suspended) observer state, a series of upgrades and maintenance tasks have been carried out on the accelerator and the experiments.

You can read some articles about it, with nice quotes from colleagues, here and here for example. And for a while at least you can hear me talking about it with Rick Edwards and Rachel Burden on BBC 5 Live Breakfast (just before 7am).

There’ll be no new collisions today, they should come in June, with the new (slightly) higher energy collisions targetted for July. You can see the long-term schedule here, and we’re still in the orange. Green is where the physics really happens.

But the machine is alive again, and it’s good.

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