You’re allowed to be interested in particle physics

An example of simulated data as might be observed at a particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider. Here, following a collision of two protons, a Higgs boson is produced that decays into two jets of hadrons and two electrons. The lines represent the possible paths of particles produced by the proton-proton collision in the detector while the energy these particles deposit is shown in blue.

This page appeared in The Hindu’s e-paper today. I wrote the lead article, about why scientists are so interested in an elementary particle called the top quark. Long story short: the top quark is the heaviest elementary particle, and because all elementary particles get their masses by interacting with Higgs bosons, the top quark’s interaction … Read more

Looking (only) for Nehru

I have a habit of watching one old Tamil film a day. Yesterday evening, I was watching a film released in 1987, called Ivargal Indiyargal (‘They Are Indians’). In a scene in the film, an office manager distributes sweets to his colleagues. One of them takes a look at the item and asks the manager … Read more

US experiments find hint of a break in the laws of physics

At 9 pm India time on April 7, physicists at an American research facility delivered a shot in the arm to efforts to find flaws in a powerful theory that explains how the building blocks of the universe work. Physicists are looking for flaws in it because the theory doesn’t have answers to some questions … Read more

My heart of physics

Every July 4, I have occasion to remember two things: the discovery of the Higgs boson, and my first published byline for an article about the discovery of the Higgs boson. I have no trouble believing it’s been eight years since we discovered this particle, using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its ATLAS and … Read more

Writing itself is fantasy

The symbols may have been laid down on paper or the screen in whatever order but when we read, we read the words one at a time, one after another – linearly. Writing, especially of fiction, is an act of using the linear construction of meaning to tell a story whose message will be assimilated … Read more

Peter Higgs, self-promoter

I was randomly rewatching The Big Bang Theory on Netflix today when I spotted this gem: Okay, maybe less a gem and more a shiny stone, but still. The screenshot, taken from the third episode of the sixth season, shows Sheldon Cooper mansplaining to Penny the work of Peter Higgs, whose name is most famously … Read more

The not-so-obvious obvious

If your job requires you to pore through a dozen or two scientific papers every month – as mine does – you’ll start to notice a few every now and then couching a somewhat well-known fact in study-speak. I don’t mean scientific-speak, largely because there’s nothing wrong about trying to understand natural phenomena in the … Read more