Several groups of physicists-turned-musicians from ATLAS are gearing up for the release of their first tracks under the “Neutralino Records” label. The label is named after the hypothetical particle, the neutralino, which is predicted by supersymmetry and might even make up the universe’s dark matter.
Executive producer (and physicist) Christopher Thomas told Discoblog that the music club at CERN, the organization that runs the LHC, is pretty active, but the ATLAS group was motivated to make an album to “show there’s another side to physicists. And maybe a bit of ‘hey, look what I can do!’”
Samples of the songs can be heard at the website for the double CD, titled Resonance. Nineteen different musical groups participated in the creation of the album, which contains a variety of original and cover songs, explains the press release (pdf):
The album features a wealth of new songs: the highlights include an original blues song about ATLAS from physicist Steven Goldfarb’s Canettes Blues Band: an ode to CERN from the remarkable singer-songwriter-scientist Cat Demetriades, classical piano pieces by head of ATLAS, Italian scientist Fabiola Gianotti, and the wry musings of guitar band TLAs and their song about their perennial bugbear–long meetings.
As the Large Hadron and the Tevatron Colliders compete to find the suspected mass-giving particle known as the Higgs boson, another competition has already begun: who should get credit when/if they find it? Six physicists came up with the theoretical mechanism to describe how the boson would work, but the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences can only split a Nobel Prize three ways.
Here are the contenders: Robert Brout and François Englert in Belgium, Peter Higgs in Scotland, and Tom Kibble in London with Gerald Guralnik and Carl R. Hagen in the United States. Each group published their papers at almost the same time (all in 1964) and devised their descriptions independently.
As Nature News reports, the debate arose after a web advertisement for a meeting last week on the Higgs mentioned only Brout, Englert, and Higgs. Though Kibble, Guralnik, and Hagen were last to publish and cited the other physicists’ papers, the three recently shared an American Physical Society award with the other trio in part for the describing the boson’s mass-giving technique: the so-called Englert-Brout-Higgs-Guralnik-Hagen-Kibble mechanism.
Given that the Nobel also can’t be awarded posthumously, that may leave something else for the six to consider, CERN physicist John Ellis said to Nature News:
“The first three in the Nobel queue probably feel quite relaxed—all they have to do is stay alive until the the particle is discovered…. The ones just behind them may understandably be quite nervous.”
Discoblog: I Swear: Subatomic Particles Are Singing to Me!
Discoblog: World Science Festival: What if Physicists Don’t Find the Higgs Boson?
Discoblog: LHC Shut Down By Wayward Baguette, Dropped by Bird Saboteur
Discoblog: Will the LHC’s Future Cancel Out Its Past?
80beats: Fermilab Particle Physicists Wonder: Are There 5 Higgs Bosons?
Image:Wikimedia / Winners of the J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics (L to R Kibble, Guralnik, Hagen, Englert, and Brout — Higgs also won but not pictured)
Serious scientists may disdain anecdotal evidence, but we have evidence that some of them are pretty good with an anecdote.
Last Thursday, the World Science Festival brought a collection of science geeks to The Moth, where the brave souls took the stage not to explain their work, but to tell stories of their lives in science. The evening’s biggest scientific celebrity was theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, winner of a 2004 Nobel Prize in physics. His story began with a phone call.
The editors of Scientific American were hoping he would write a rebuttal to a letter they’d just received. “The letter was from a man who I later learned was a banana farmer in Hawaii,” Wilczek recalled. “He was worried about black holes. He was worried about a particle accelerator that was being built on Long Island that could produce black holes, and he was worried that the black holes would swallow up Long Island and then the world.”
Large Hadron Collider physicists have heard the voice of the “god particle,” the Higgs boson, and it sounds a bit like a child’s music box.
Lily Asquith, a physicist searching for the Higgs boson–the elementary particle believed to give everything in the universe mass–is using more than her eyes. With artists and other physicists, she started the LHCsound project to hear subatomic particles.
New Scientist reports that the idea arose from a conversation between Asquith and percussionist Eddie Real:
“I was actually doing impersonations of different particles and trying to get him to develop them on his electronic drum kit.”
The cargo from a Roman ship sunk off the coast of Sardinia more than 2,000 years ago will finally be put to use–it will become a shield for a neutrino detector. In Italy, 120 lead bricks recovered from the shipwreck will soon be melted to make a protective shield for Italy’s new neutrino detector, CUORE (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events).
The ancient lead, which is useful because it has lost almost all traces of its natural radioactivity, has been transferred from a museum in Sardinia to the national particle physics laboratory at Gran Sasso. After spending two millennia on the seabed, the lead bricks will now be used in an experiment that will take place beneath 4,500 feet of rock.
Nature News writes:
Once destined to become water pipes, coins or ammunition for Roman soldiers’ slingshots, the metal will instead form part of a cutting-edge experiment to nail down the mass of neutrinos.
From slingshots to particle physics–we humans have come a long way in 2,000 years.
We’ve been over and over the fact that the chances the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle acclerator, will destroy the Earth are infinitesimal at best. But the doomsday crowd is still nervous, and growing more so as the official launch date—this coming Wednesday—draws near. In fact, The Telegraph reports, top physicists affiliated with the LHC have been receiving numerous nasty letters and even death threats from paranoid people.
Some call the public relations office with tearful requests to stop the project, CERN officials say, or send emails asking the scientists to reassure them that the world won’t come to an end next week. One of the angrier letter-writers says, “You are evil and dangerous and you are going to destroy the world.”
The Large Hadron Collider is almost ready. Scientists are cooling the components of this giant underground accelerator to extreme temperatures—already -350 degrees Fahrenheit in some places—in anticipation of activating it next month. But don’t expect immediate answers—first physicists are going to have to wade through the sea of numbers.
Nature reports today that the LHC will create 700 megabytes of data per second. If you stacked the number of CDs necessary to store a year’s worth of LHC’s data, the pile would reach 20 kilometers into the air, or about 12.5 miles.
In a few months, the Large Hadron Collider will begin creating the most energetic collisions ever seen on Earth, hoping to tackle fundamental questions about our universe—but not everyone is ready to party. Fears that physics at the LHC will lead to the catastrophic destruction of our planet are being rehashed, and this time, the fear pushers are taking their case to federal court.