Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lattice 2008 programme online

The plenary program and preliminary schedule for the Lattice 2008 conference are now online.

Update: Meanwhile, the parallel and poster programs are also available.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm still here (and now we can finally be sure the LHC won't change that)

Yes, I have been lazybusy doing research, which takes priority over blogging (after all the German taxpayer is giving me money to do research, not to blog, and I don't want to disappoint her too much). But I'm still here, and I fully intend to blog from the Lattice 2008 conference in Williamsburg.

Fortunately most of us will still be alive by then, and even by the time Lattice 2009 in Beijing comes around, since the LHC is unlikely to swallow us up into a black hole. Okay, that's not really news to anybody who knows any real physics at all, but still CERN felt the pressure from misinformed segments of the public was enough to warrant yet another safety report, which comes to the conclusion that

[t]here is no basis for any concerns about the consequences of new particles or forms of matter that could possibly be produced by the LHC.

This hardly surprising conclusion is based on the fact that the flux of cosmic rays at energies far exceeding the energy of the LHC is such that if stable black holes, strangelets, vacuum decay bubbles or other doomsdayons could be produced at the LHC, the solar system would have been completely converted into those doomsdayons a long time ago. Since the sun, the moon and, indeed, the earth still consist after billions of years of being bombarded by cosmic rays with energies many orders of magnitude above that of the LHC, the probability for creating doomsdayons must be very, very low. Or, as the LHC safety report nicely puts it,

the continued existence of the Earth and other astronomical bodies can be used to constrain or exclude speculations about possible new particles thatmight be produced by the LHC.

Not that that will stop the silly trial in Hawaii from going ahead, but since it appears to be scheduled to begin in 2009, the LHC will have been turned on by then, and the continued existence of the Earth will make the doomsdayonistas look pretty stupid on their day in court.