CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, is taking a cautious approach on persistent rumours (see, for example, the ViXra blog) that two experiments at its Large Hadron Collider — ATLAS and the Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS — have independently found evidence for the Higgs particle with a mass of 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) — right in the ballpark predicted by the standard model of particle physics. Read more
18 November 2011: An updated version of this story is now available (see ‘Neutrino experiment replicates faster-than-light finding’). Read more
One of the weirdest predictions of quantum mechanics is that the vacuum of space isn’t really empty. Because of the uncertainty principle, quantum theory predicts that a constant foam of “virtual particles” is flitting in and out of existence inside the void. Even weirder, these virtual particles can have real effects. This week, a paper in Nature demonstrates just such an effect: if you jiggle a mirror very close to the speed of light, you can turn pairs of virtual light particles into real ones.
India looks increasingly likely to be the site of a new gravitational wave detector.
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, operates two 4-km long baseline interferometer detectors in the United States: one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana.
Omid Kokabee, a physics student at Texas University who has been imprisoned in Iran since February, faced the first hearing of his trial this morning. Kokabee denied all charges against him, during a one-and-a-half-hour-long hearing closed to the public, according to Kokabee’s lawyer, Saeed Khalili. However, Khalili’s defence presentation was postponed for lack of time to a date still to be announced.
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to astrophysicists Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, and Adam G. Riess, for their discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.