From the Tau to Dark Energy: Martin Perl's Blog

By Sean Carroll | November 2, 2011 9:22 am

Physicists have certainly been ahead of the information-technological curve at times. The web was invented at CERN, and of course we mastered open publishing simply by doing it, while other disciplines have struggled to come up with workable models. But senior physicists — not youngsters, who are always eager to try new things, but more established types — have generally looked askance at blogging, for hard-to-discern reasons. In math we have Fields Medalists blogging up a storm, in economics there are multiple blogs by Nobel Laureates, but physicists on the far side of the “young and striving”/”senior and respected” divide have largely stayed away. (My colleagues here at CV are enormously respected, but in my mind they will always be youthful.)

So we’re extremely happy to note that Martin Perl (at an enthusiastic 84 years young!) has jumped into the blogosphere, with Reflections on Physics: From the Tau to Dark Energy. Perl shared the Nobel Prize in 1995 for the kind of result that every physicist dreams of achieving, but few actually do: the discovery of a new elementary particle. In particular, the tau lepton, the heaviest of the three charged leptons (along with the electron and muon). Not too shabby.

Martin’s first post is on Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos and the Dynamics of the Internet. He finds the OPERA results intriguing, but thinks that figuring them out is going to require new experiments, not clever outsiders trying to figure out where they went wrong. I would tend to trust his judgment here.

It’s fantastic to have another great physicist taking the time to reach out to a broader audience. Note that Martin is at SLAC, along with our own JoAnne and Risa. Something about the Palo Alto coffee that nudges one toward blogging?

  • bystander

    The web was invented at CERN? I thought Al Gore invented the internet. And what about ARPANET, uunet, etc.

  • Phillip Helbig

    First, the WEB was invented at CERN, not the INTERNET. The WWW is one of many applications on the internet and runs the HTTP protocol. Other, older applications use telnet, SMTP, FTP, NNTP etc. Remember: the WWW is more than Facebook, the internet is more than the WWW, computers are more than the internet and there is more to life than computers. The internet is a descendant of Arpanet.

    Al Gore? This quote is almost always taken out of context. He never claimed to have made any technical contribution to the internet. What he, rightly, claimed was that he was instrumental in getting legislation passed to provide federal funding for supporting the internet.

  • Shantanu

    Sean, some of your co-bloggers have not posted anything for months or even year

  • Diane

    Sean: How did you like Ithaca and how did your lecture go? My Husband and I were hoping to make it but alas, he couldn’t get away from work. Any chance you’ll be posting your slides somewhere?

  • Kevin Lim

    I wholeheartedly support the idea of physicists jumping in the blogosphere. I particularly loved that you hosted guest bloggers (like Don Page and Tom Banks recently) and have semi-technical discussions. For underfunded grad students like me who do not get to attend conferences, this is the next best thing.

  • David Brown

    Will the blogosphere become more and more important in physics until the onset of the Technological Singularity?
    “I think that the Singularity is scary because of the prospect of sudden onset.” — Vernor Vinge Tech4thought Interviews Vernor Vinge part 4, 2010, YouTube

  • Jorge Laris

    May I suggest to the bloggers this set of blogs writtern by Physics

    They post interesting things

  • Pingback: Martin Perl’s new webpage; Physicists reaching out « UnEntangleMe()

  • HD

    To state the obvious, he’s 84, and has a Nobel. He’s largely immune to criticism about anything he writes. Unlike any non-tenured or at-will-employed scientist who might have to keep their blogging on a short leash in these days of multiple postdocs and 16% (U6) unemployment.

  • Dan Iezzi

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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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