Precision Measurement

Category archives for Precision Measurement

Finding That There’s Nothing to Find

In 1967, a team of scientists hauled a big pile of gear– electronics, particle detectors, a giant slab of iron– into the burial chamber at the base of one of the pyramids at Giza. This sounds like a scene from a science fiction or fantasy novel– throw in the fact that their first attempt was…

A little over a year ago, I visited Mark Kasevich’s labs at Stanford, and wrote up a paper proposing to use a 10-m atom interferometer to test general relativity. Now, that sounds crazy, but I saw the actual tower when I visited, so it wasn’t complete nonsense. And this week, they have a new paper…

Of Controversies and Clocks

A few months back, I got a call from a writer at a physics magazine, asking for comments on a controversy within AMO physics. I read a bunch of papers, and really didn’t quite understand the problem; not so much the issue at stake, but why it was so heated. When I spoke to the…

Last year, Alan Alda posed a challenge to science communicators, to explain a flame in terms that an 11-year old could understand. this drew a lot of responses, and some very good winners. This year’s contest, though still called the “Flame Challenge,” asked for an answer to the question “What Is Time?” This is a…

Do the New Paper Dance

OK, it’s a paper I mentioned here before, when it went up on the arxiv, but the “Comments on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics” article I wrote this summer is up on the Physica Scripta web site now, and for the next not-quite-thirty days it’s free to read and download: Searching for new physics through…

It’s a banner day for science explainer things I wrote, as a piece I wrote has just gone live at Tor.com: Why Gandalf Is Wrong Even as a kid, reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings at the golden age of twelve or so, Gandalf’s response to Saruman never sat well with…

In which we look at a slightly crazy-sounding proposal from my former boss, the experimental realization of which is getting close to completion. ———— I spent more or less the entire first day of DAMOP a couple of weeks ago going to precision measurement talks. Most of these were relatively sedate (at least by the…

I’ve been busily working on something new, but I’m beginning to think I’ve been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good-enough-for-this-stage, so I’m setting it aside for a bit, and trying to get caught up with some of the huge number of things that have been slipping. Which includes getting the oil changed…

So, the infamous OPERA result for neutrino speeds seems to be conclusively disproven, traced to a problem with a timing signal. Matt Strassler has a very nice explanation of the test that shows that the whole thing can almost certainly be traced to a timing error that cropped up in 2008. This problem is generally…

It’s been a while since I did any ResearchBlogging posts, because it turns out that having an infant and a toddler really cuts into your blogging time. Who knew? I keep meaning to get back to it, though, and there was a flurry of excitement the other day about a Nature Physics paper proposing a…