Friday, September 28, 2012

Siete a conoscenza dell'attività celebrale di un salmone morto? Questo e altro grazie a Ig Nobel 2012!

Come ogni anno si è tenuta la cerimonia per la consegna dei premi Ig Nobel 2012, gli anti-Nobel per eccellenza, che di tanto in tanto ricevono addirittura più attenzioni della cerimonia ufficiale per le curiose ricerche scientifiche che vengono premiate. 
Il mio preferito?  Il premio per la medicina :) A voi trovare il vostro!

L'analisi delle forze che determinano il movimento di un capello in un'acconciatura a coda di cavallo, la capacità degli scimpanzé di riconoscere i loro simili dal posteriore e l'abilità dei neuroscienziati di rilevare un'attività cerebrale significativa persino in un salmone morto  sono alcune delle ricerche (realmente pubblicate) premiate quest'anno con l'Ig Nobel.
Nutrita di partecipanti anche quest'anno la cerimonia presso la Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, per la consegna dei premi Ig Nobel per le ricerche più improbabili degli ultimi dodici mesi.

Ecco i vincitori:
Il riconoscimento per la chimica è andato a Johan Pettersson (Svezia e Rwanda) per aver risolto un fitto mistero: perché, in alcune abitazioni della città svedese di Anderslöv, i capelli delle persone diventano verdi. E per restare in tema di pettinature, chi porta i capelli a coda di cavallo invece d'ora in poi potrà farlo con più consapevolezza, grazie alle ricerche di Raymond Goldstein (Stati Uniti e Regno Unito), Patrick Warren e Robin Ball (Regno Unito) e di Joseph Keller (Stati Uniti) che hanno calcolato l'equilibrio di forze che determinano il movimento di un capello in chi porta questa specifica acconciatura, aggiudicandosi il Premio per la fisica
(Continua a leggere su

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lo Show dell'Universo

Va in onda giovedì alle 21 (con replica domenica alle 15) su Rai Storia lo "Show dell'Universo", l'evento organizzato da INFN, Città della Scienza e Il Mattino di Napoli nella serata di sabato 22 settembre. Continua a leggere su "Le Scienze".

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alcohol and clouds in my institute

Already two weeks ago a new "toy" arrived in my institute. It was the first time that I was seeing a working cloud chamber and I spent most of the afternoon looking for the different tracks, trying to guess the origin, wondering how much radioactive material there is around my office :)
I then thought that it would have been nice to start a new current in this blog talking about the main detectors that we use nowadays in particle physics....and what can be better then the cloud chamber to start this list?
Cloud chambers played a prominent role in experimental particle physics from 1920s to the 1950s, until the advent of the bubble chamber. In particular, the discoveries of the positron in 1932 (acknowledged by a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936) and the kaon in 1953 were made using cloud chambers as detectors.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

La sinfonia del moto browniano.

La posizione di ogni particella e l'angolo dello spostamento
determinano il tipo di suono prodotto. Credit: BBC News
Un ingegnere chimico e un artista hanno unito le forze per trasformare questa danza casuale molecolare in musica. Il progetto, denominato Scale Structure Synthesis, è stata sviluppato per il Festival della Mente dell'Università di Sheffield.
Per questo progetto Jonathan Howse dell'Università di Sheffield ha costruito un semplice microscopio per osservare i particolari "musicisti": minuscole particelle di polistirene, sfere con un diametro di un milionesimo di metro, che galleggiano in un liquido.
Un microscopio con una telecamera collegata è capace di seguire e registrare il movimento delle particelle animate dal moto browniano che le spinge avanti e indietro, mentre un software traccia i movimenti delle particelle fino ad un massimo di 8. In seguito l'artista Mark Fell trasforma questo flusso di dati in musica, convertendo questi specifici movimenti in delle note musicali.
L'algoritmo è abbastanza semplice: l'intensità del suono è correlata alla ampiezza del movimento della particella da un dato punto, mentre il timbro è funzione dell'angolo dello spostamento stesso.
I risultati secondo gli autori sono molto interessanti, come potete leggere (e ascoltare) a questo link.
Voi cosa ne pensate?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recommended by us: Majorana or Dirac?

Before to make a report on the participation to the workshop "BeNe" (Behind the Neutrino Mass) I would like to instill curiosity about one of the fundamental themes of neutrino physics: the neutrino is a Dirac or Majorana particle? The explanation offered here is simple but captures well the essence of the problem so I recommend reading. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


In occasione della visita all'INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON MODELS OF NEUTRINO MASS  BeNe 2012, organizzato dall'ICTP (the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics), a cui mi accingo a partecipare, volevo offrire questo omaggio: si tratta di un libro che raccoglie una serie di brevi resoconti personali di alcuni tra i più eminenti scienziati del nostro tempo riguardo alle motivazioni che spingono gli uomini a fare Scienza. Godetevelo:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Light David defeats the supermassive Goliath [on NewScientist]

read the coverage

There must be something wrong in science if the NewScientist published this weird coverage on massive photons around black holes.

First, even my grandma knows that "black holes tend not to exist" [cit.], so that putting bounds on the mass of the photon using observations of supermassive black holes, as the author apparently do, doesn't sound very likely.
Second, I know personally most of the authors and at least one of them is dangerously close to be a crackpot, to be polite.

Thus, i strongly suggest you not to read the original paper, or to read it just for fun, and never ever trust those authors!

Btw, if you are not disgusted enough, here you can find another view on the problem.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Matters of Gravity

Last issue appeared some days ago here 
Issued twice a year, Matters of Gravity is a newsletter mainly organized by the Topical Group in Gravitation of the American Physics Society (APS). You might find summaries of meetings and workshops, announcements for prizes and grants and, most importantly, some scientific gossip.

Here you can find issues since 2006, while here there are the previous ones (started in 1991).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: “The Geek Manifesto” [Via BackReaction]

 Book Review “The Geek Manifesto” by Mark Henderson
The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters
By Mark Henderson
Bantam Press (10 May 2012)
Henderson’s book is a well-structured and timely summary of why science, both scientific knowledge and the scientific method, matters for the well-being of our societies. Henderson covers seven different areas: why science matters to politics, the government, the media, the economy, education, in court, in healthcare and to the environment. In each case, he has examples of current problems, mostly from 
(Continue to read on BackReaction)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Physics rocks

Since it's Sunday, I suggest you something a bit relaxing, but always about (particle?) physics.
Is it only me or recently there is a new* explosion of physics oriented rock songs?
I let you decide; in the meantime I will write here some examples which came quickly to my mind, but we can think of this as a "running" post, which can be updated at any moment with other songs.

Radiohead - Supercollider 
First of all, Radiohead, yes. They've written a song clearly influenced by the LHC.
Super collider
Dust in a moment
Particles scatter
Parting from the soup
Even if the collider is probably just an excuse to talk about something else!

Friday, September 7, 2012

NRHEP Network First Meeting

The first meeting of the Numerical Relativity and High Energy Physics Network have taken place at Aveiro University, from 9-13 July 2012. This meeting brought together researchers from Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the USA, to discuss the state of the art in relativistic gravity and its application in various contexts, ranging from astrophysics to particle physics, using both anaytical and numerical techniques.
The organizers produced this nice movie. Visit  the workshop website for more info!

Recommended by us: Violation of the "first" Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Synopsis: The Certainty of Uncertainty

Synopsis Image
L. A. Rozema et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. (2012)

Violation of Heisenberg’s Measurement-Distrurbance                                           Relationship by Weak Measurements

Lee A. Rozema, Ardavan Darabi, Dylan H. Mahler, Alex Hayat,                                   Yasaman Soudagar, and Aephraim M. Steinberg
Published September 6, 2012

When first taking quantum mechanics courses, students learn about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which is often presented as a statement about the intrinsic uncertainty that a quantum system must possess. Yet Heisenberg originally formulated his principle in terms of the “observer effect”: a relationship between the precision of a measurement and the disturbance it creates, as when a photon measures an electron’s position. Although the former version is rigorously proven, the latter is less general and—as recently shown—mathematically incorrect. In a paper in Physical Review Letters, Lee Rozema and colleagues at the University of Toronto, Canada, experimentally demonstrate that a measurement can in fact violate Heisenberg’s original precision-disturbance relationship. (Continue to read on

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Little particles physicists grow up

Who would not have ever wanted to find under the Christmas Tree this amazing toy? *_*
Just to increase your desire, here you are the complete list of instruments that you can find inside this fantastic home Atomic Energy Lab:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New laptop, new Linux distro

Call me nerd, but i was getting crazy waiting for my new laptop. Today, after months of anxiously awaiting, i've finally put my hands on it!

My new beloved laptop
The story of this laptop is quite interesting (for me, at least) so let me tell you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Picture of the day: Sun Has "Eureka!" Moment

Still talking about solar storms and in particular about coronal mass ejections (CMEs): in this video performed thanks to the Soho (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) project, a really funny bulb shape of CME can be observed. The sun had an Archimedes' intuition :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Recommended by us

Questioning the Foundations
The submission deadline for this year’s FQXi essay context on the question “Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?” has just passed. They got many thought-provoking contributions, which I encourage you to browse here.
The question was really difficult for me. Not because nothing came to my mind but because too much came to my mind! Throwing out the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Lorentz-invariance, the positivity of gravitational mass, or the speed of light limit – been there, done that. And that’s only the stuff that I did publish...
(Continue to read on BackReaction)