Yesterday, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to two physicists – Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald – who made leading contributions to the discovery that neutrinos, very difficult-to-detect subatomic particles, can actually change from one kind to another kind spontaneously. This is called “neutrino oscillation” or “neutrino mixing,” and the fact that it happens at all implies that neutrinos have mass. In case the notion of a neutrino is alien to you, here are some helpful resources to learn more about this important subatomic particle.
[I am posting this now after a bit of a hiatus. It’s been a busy and somewhat unpredictable summer. See below.]
I’ve gone silent for may weeks primarily out of a re-prioritization of my time since returning from CERN. It was a very busy finish to the work period at CERN this summer. The trip home was delightful, though made slightly unpleasant by the fact that Jodi was away when I returned and would not herself return home for a week afterward. Life began to return to something like normal at SMU when I got back, with my focus turning toward our new grant proposal for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The last few weeks have been capped off my some joy and sadness: my sister-in-law and her children are visiting us for a week of vacation, but I had to leave home during this time due to an unexpected death in the family. I am returning home now, looking forward to a few more days with my nephews before getting back to work.
This was a very good week at CERN. We made some progress on identifying clear physics topics of exploration in the context of Run 2 physics involving H → bb decays. It was the week of the US ATLAS Meeting. Oh, and our new summer grad students arrived on Saturday. I only have 2 weeks left at CERN, so I am trying to make the absolute most of them because the privilege of being able to focus just on physics is going away in 13 days.
It was a really beautiful week on the French/Swiss border – the weather has been excellent and many a long run has been had by yours truly. I’ve been avoiding weighing myself this summer, but just based on how my clothes are hanging on me I’d say my summer goal of dropping 5-10 pounds is coming to be a reality. If I can maintain that when the semester starts, as I had maintained my previous weight during the semesters, life will be very good.
Let’s have a look at some of the specifics.
It has been an exciting couple of weeks since arriving at CERN. I have been bouncing from hotel to hostel, but mostly getting some physics done. I even found time to take a weekend in Barcelona and visit an old friend of mine. But, the work continues. Meantime, here are some highlights from the last couple of weeks. The first real data for first physics studies arrived on disk from the LHC; ATLAS has one of its “ATLAS Weeks,” the first since data-taking started; I went to Barcelona for the very first time and had my first restful weekend in weeks; some of our contributions to the beginning of Run 2 ATLAS physics have been making the rounds inside the collaboration; we have started to hammer ManeFrame, the SMU computing cluster, to see if it can handle physics analysis in Run 2. Oh, and I have been putting together my part of the new 3-year physics proposal to the US Department of Energy.