Friday, December 16, 2011

Punk Rock Friday - Mommy's Little Monster

From the great documentary - Another State of Mind - here is a nice video from 1983 of Social Distortion playing Mommy's Little Monster in Winnipeg, Canada.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work Work, Zug Zug

Sorry all, I have been traveling for work - gallivanting across the US presenting my work at a conference.  Drinking free beer, being jet-lagged, and missing my family.  Previous to that, I was busting my butt to finish that work.  Then I got a nasty cold from all the dumb, germy people who go on planes right when I get back home. I will have a post up on the recent CERN results on the finding the Higgs boson later today.  EDIT: Actually, for some reason it appeared below this one... blogger has weird freaking software on the backend I guess... very confusing.

PS - I was in San Francisco when the Mythbusters shot a cannon ball into someones house on accident.  Coincidence or not - you decide????

Searching for the Higgs boson - new LHC results

Some of you may have heard that 2 of the experiments at CERN (the European particle collider built to find the Higgs boson).

So, what is the Higgs boson?  Well, in the standard model of particle physics, the Higgs boson is the particle which couples to everything else and gives those particles mass.  It is a strange notion of quantum field theory and may be difficult to understand.  Basically, the language of particle physics is quantum field theory.  Quantum field theory tells us interactions between particles are mediated by bosons.  For a more concrete example, electromagnetic interactions are mediated by photons (the interaction (or gauge) boson of quantum electrodynamics - the quantum field theory that describes electromagnetic interactions).  So, when two like charges repel each other - they two charges are exchanging a bunch of photons to accomplish that interaction.  I hope that helps in some way.

Here is a summary of particle interactions in the standard model:

There is a great video put out by Fermilab (a US particle physics lab) on searching for the Higgs and how it is done:

So, recent results by two different experiments at CERN, ATLAS and CMS, both have constrained the mass of the Higgs to a much smaller region.  CMS gives the limits of 115-127 GeV/c² and ATLAS gives the limits of 116-131 GeV/c². 

For those with a little more interest here are some plots from Sean Carrol's blog (he borrowed from others, so follow the trail down the rabbit hole if you like!).

 Here are the ATLAS preliminary results:
And the CMS preliminary results:
The way you read these plots is this: Any time the black dotted line dips below 1 on the vertical scale, these mass regions for the Higgs are excluded.  Anytime the black line dotted line rises above the yellow shaded region, there is increased confidence the Higgs may be hiding in there.

ATLAS is seeing a peak at approximately 126 GeV/c², while CMS is observes a peak at about 124 GeV/c².

Guido Tonelli, the Spokesperson for CMS said this at the CERN Higgs Seminar:
"…we observe in our data a modest excess of events between 115 and 127 GeV that appears, quite consistently, in five independent channels. The excess is most compatible with a SM Higgs hypothesis in the vicinity of 124 GeV and below, but the statistical significance (2.6 sigma local and 1.9 sigma global after correcting for the LEE in the low mass region) is not large enough to say anything conclusive."

While Fabiola Gianotti, the ATLAS Spokesperson said this (also at the CERN Higgs Seminar):
"We observe an excess of events around m_H ~ 126 GeV:   local significance of 3.6 sigma, with contributions from the  H –>2 gammas (2.8 sigma), H –> ZZ –>4l (2.1 sigma), H –> WW –> lvlv (1.4 sigma), SM Higgs expectation: 2.4 sigma local –> observed excess compatible with signal strength, the global significance (taking account Look-Elsewhere-Effect) is ~2.3 sigma"

So, the big take away is that the LHC is closing in on the Higgs, but there is still a lot of data to collect next year.  It should also be noted that the LHC just finished the 2011 runs about 6 weeks ago.  So these results are very preliminary, but also very promising!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Toys I want for Christmas

So, I was thinking about Christmas gifts last night for my kids.  Which led to thinking of stuff I want.  I really like buying my kids toys, because they are just so damn cool.  Plus, I am bigger than them and can make them share them with me.  Because, you know I am just a big kid anyways.  And I am mean.

My wife knows this, which is why she bought me a giant 2.5 foot wide Millennium Falcon as a special gift when my daughter was born.  Why would I get a gift, you ask?  Because I was such an awesome husband during her pregnancy - taking care of the house and our son, so she could be a little less miserable.  So, here is what she got me:
From Amazon
Yeah, that is right, it is over 2 and a half feet long and it is awesome!

Anyways, so what would be on my Christmas list if I was rich and awesome and didn't actually need things - cool toys of course.

Keeping in the Star Wars theme, I would go with this next:
While tactically the worst possible design for a troop transport - I dig the AT-AT.
 Then, maybe the electronic Boba Fett helmet, cause Fett is Bad (yeah, bad with a capital B):
Pew pew, then blast off with my jet pack!
To class the joint up a bit - some sweet ice cube trays:
When I am drinking my whiskey, I would pretend Han is getting drunk with me too!
Now, some weaponry to accompany my drunken self with my Boba Fett helmet on (because we all know that would happen):
It shoots 35 feet!  No one would be safe in my house!

And for when things really get out of control:
A rubber band gun shaped like an AK-47 - YES PLEASE!
So, am I missing anything?

Also, does anyone have any good board game recommendations?  The wife and I want to restock our board games (we lost a bunch in the floods).  Needs to be able to be played by 2 players - something strategic and fun is what I am thinking.  Was thinking about Dominion.. any thoughts from the interwebz people?  Thanks in advance.

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