The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Messages from Blois

For the second time, I will be attending the Rencontres de Blois, a yearly conference that represents a convergence (perhaps even a conversation) between cosmology, astronomy, astrophysics, and particle physics. Held in the Chateau de Blois, a castle perched above the Loire River in Blois, France, this conference will bring the opportunity to discuss the latest from physics measurements made across the globe.

No doubt, we will hear much about the recent BICEP-2 measurement of polarization in the light left over from the Big Bang. In fact, the speaker giving this talk is on the train with me right now, and has promised a clear discussion (brief though it will be) about why inflation is the only current plausible explanation that allows for the kinds of light polarization effects that appear to be observed.

No doubt also we will hear about the latest on the Higgs Boson from the LHC experiments. This will likely be couched in the discussion of how the Higgs may help open new avenues of searching for things like Dark Matter particles. Already, both ATLAS and CMS have made public results in the search for “invisible” decay of the Higgs boson. That is, they have searched for the Higgs decaying into things that CANNOT be detected by the detectors. If Dark Matter we so easy to detect that putting something ATLAS-sized in front of it were sufficient to reveal its presence, we would have long ago seen it. Rather, we expect that Dark Matter interacts rarely with our detector. But, perhaps, since the Higgs is so intimately connected to mass, it shares a stronger connection with the dark matter and can decay readily into it. This would yield a signature of lots of “missing stuff” (e.g. missing energy) evading our detector systems.

Blois is a fantastic conference for seeing the latest results available in the late spring. I am excited to learn about all the things that have been happening while I have been busy teaching or buried in my work on ATLAS. It’s nice to come up for air and see what’s interesting in the world. After all, it isn’t always what you yourself have been doing…