Nailing down the Yang-Mills problem

The Gauge Connection Millennium problems represent a major challenge for physicists and mathematicians. So far, the only one that has been solved was the Poincaré conjecture (now a theorem) by Grisha Perelman . For people working in strong interactions and quantum chromodynamics, the most interesting of such problems is the Yang-Mills mass gap and existence problem . The solutions of this problem would imply a lot of consequences in physics and one of the most important of these is a deep understanding of confinement of quarks inside hadrons. So far, there seems to be no solution to it but things do not stay exactly in this way. A significant number of researchers has performed lattice computations to obtain the propagators of the theory in the full range of energy from infrared to ultraviolet providing us a deep understanding of what is going on here (see Yang-Mills article on Wikipedia). The propagators to be…

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Madame Wu and the backward universe

Galileo's Pendulum

    The great experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu in 1958. [Credit: Smithsonian Institution] The great experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu in 1958. [Credit: Smithsonian Institution] In physics, it often seems that the theorists — the people thinking up new models and ideas to describe the natural world — get most of the glory. The Einsteins, Newtons, and Hawkings are generally better known than the people who do experiments. As a result, many of the great experimental physicists get overlooked even when we talk about important discoveries. However, without work in labs (and observatories), theories are no better than random thoughts; many theories have been ruled out by experiment, and forgotten as a result.

The neglect of experiment in the popular imagination is completely unfair, though. A case in point: the Chinese-American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997), known to many simply as Madame Wu, is not widely known by non-physicists, even though her accomplishments were many. Among other things, she worked on the Manhattan Project, did…

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Particle Fever: the film that brings the Higgs boson to life


Particle Fever is a gripping insider account of the world’s biggest, most expensive scientific experiment. But it’s also a real-life drama about understanding the universe, says director Mark Levinson.
Monica Dunford, Particle Fever
A natural: Monica Dunford, one of the Cern physicists who brings the search for the Higgs boson to life in Particle Fever.

A new documentaryParticle Fever, achieves the almost impossible: it makes the workings of the Large Hadron Collider comprehensible – and exciting – to even the most science-phobic viewer. Mark Levinson, the film’s director, first visited Cern, home of the LHC on the Swiss-French border, in 2007 and kept going back until July 2012, when the crack team of physicists concluded a two-decade quest to find the Higgs boson.

Particle Fever follows half a dozen diverse characters – out of more than 10,000 scientists from more than 100 countries – who work on the world’s…

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Communicating Science

Kate's Science - Real and Fantastic

The new Cosmos series now playing in the US is not the only effort to communicate science to the public. recently reposted an article from the Australian site The Conversation on this topic. “No matter how strong the scientific argument and consensus among scientists there will always be people who reject the evidence. It happens on so many scientific topics, from climate change and vaccination to nuclear power and renewable energy… These are, of course, vastly different issues. Many of those who agree with one of the positions noted above will be horrified to find themselves included in the same sentence with another group.”

Neil_deGrasse_Tyson_-_NAC_Nov_2005 Neil deGrasse Tyson

Scientists tend to think that the way to resolve a disagreement is to get more facts, but when well-established science confronts hot-button, public-policy issues, this approach fails. To borrow a phrase from Stephen Jay Gould, the misunderstandings are “conceptual locks…

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Rev. John Cunningham: When a priest and a physicist meet

Laura L. Calderone

The Rev. John Cunningham is an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago. But, his background may surprise you. He is the chairperson and an associate professor in the Department of Physics. He has a long history in the fields of particle physics and astrophysics. Medill Reports interviewed him to learn more about his faith and his studies.
Q: Tell me about your background. How did you get your start?

A: In high school I was always very much interested in mathematics, so my history of my education in some ways started with the science first. I was interested in particle physics – quarks, leptons.

Out here in Batavia, Ill. was this place called Fermi National Accelerator. My goal was really was to work at that facility. I think it came down to a picture I saw in a book about the accelerator.

I don’t have a dramatic Jesuit story about…

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Where to See It: Total Lunar Eclipse Coming Tax Day Eve in US


By Mark Leberfinger

The first total eclipse of the moon since December 2011 will be visible in North America, just in time to greet last-minute tax filers in the United States.

However, many Americans may not be in a good place to see the eclipse because of cloudy and rainy conditions.

The total lunar eclipse, resulting from the Earth’s position between the moon and sun, will occur early Tuesday morning, EDT.

The eclipse will begin at 12:53 a.m. EDT Tuesday. It will reach totality at 3:06 a.m. EDT and end at 4:24 a.m. EDT.

Viewing conditions will be poor in the eastern United States, except for South Florida, Meteorologist Brian Edwards said.

“A front will stretch from central Quebec down through the Appalachians into the Gulf Coast,” Edwards said. “It will bring clouds, showers and even thunder in the South and mid-Atlantic. It will be mostly dry but clouds…

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