The CERN Bulletin has been providing weekly updates about the progress of LHC repairs, with the latest one here. One thing they don’t seem to have mentioned is that it looks like the schedule has recently slipped by nearly a month. The schedule approved in early February had checkout of the machine in week 38 (week of Sept. 14) and first beam week 39 (week of Sept. 21). The latest draft of the schedule (see page 42 of this presentation) has checkout in week 42 and beam in week 43. So, it looks like the latest plan calls for injection of a beam around October 19th, collisions sometime in November.
I today heard an odd rumor about a problem this past weekend with the on-going repairs in sector 34, but there may be nothing to it, so I’ll try to stick to only mongering confirmed rumors.
The blogging world continues to expand with new institutional initiatives to set up blogs. There’s a new version of Quantum Diaries out, along the same lines as a similar site set up back in 2005. That’s the one that Tommaso Dorigo survived, along with some other physicists who have kept blogging, including Gordon Watts and Peter Steinberg. Unlike the 2005 incarnation, this version seems to be restricted to experimentalists, no theorists allowed. It also uses the same address as the old site, which unfortunately seems to no longer be accessible. Whether it is possible or desirable to set up a mechanism to ensure the availability in the future of blog content is an interesting question.
The AMS has set up a blog for mathematics graduate students, which so far mostly consists of professional advice.
One piece of news that might be interesting to some of these graduate students is that the NSF has just announced a plan to use some of the stimulus money to provide 30 two-year postdocs aimed at students on the job market this spring who have not yet found employment. The money is being funneled through the various institutes supported by the NSF, with the idea that the jobs will generally be hosted at other institutions, which will provide a mentor and possibly teaching opportunities. The deadline to apply for these jobs is very soon (April 10), there’s more here, here, here and here.
One unusual thing about these postdocs (compared to usual NSF postdocs) is that it appears they are available to anyone who is getting their degree from a US university, not just US citizens or green-card holders. It also seems to be possible to hold the postdoc outside the US, at some MSRI-affiliated institutions such as the University of Toronto. Adding up the cost of the 30 postdocs comes to maybe $3 million or so, leaving open the question on everyone’s mind in academia: what about the other %99.9 percent of the $3 billion in NSF stimulus money? Where’s that going to go?
I always wondered who the Pupin building housing the physics department here at Columbia was named after. Here’s the scoop.
The Origins symposium at ASU is finishing up today. It was webcast, but if you missed it archived video is starting to appear here. The Science Friday segment featured Michael Turner responding to Steven Weinberg’s claim that some anthropic argument is just common-sense with the remark that “some of us chafe at using anthropic and commonsense in the same sentence”. I haven’t yet seen the full multiverse discussion from later last Friday, but presumably that will be available soon.
Update: One more. Today at CERN they’re celebrating Carlo Rubbia’s 75th birthday. Webcast going on right now, slides here.
Update: Hamish Johnston at Physics World asked CERN spokesman James Gillies about the delay in the draft schedule:
He also said that CERN is now looking for ways to make up the extra time identified by Bailey and he said that the repair team are confident of having the LHC running towards the end of September as planned.
Update: Yet one more: New Scientist has an interview of Witten by Matthew Chalmers here.