Archive for December, 2009

Liveblogging CDMS Talk from My Couch

Post-Talk UPDATE:

My take: No conclusive discovery of dark matter, but we couldn’t realistically expect that anyway.  However, there are two events that, while not definitively dark matter, can’t be ruled out either.  The announcement wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was nonetheless exciting.  It was cool for me to be in on what may be the early stages of a big and important discovery, both by watching the announcement live and by being at the institution that hosts the experiment.

My semester is over, so I’m at home, sitting on my couch, watching the CDMS talk streaming live. Here’s some of my thoughts as I watch: Continue reading ‘Liveblogging CDMS Talk from My Couch’

Rumors of the Dark Side

UPDATE: Direct link to the streaming video of the announcement.  Live blogging of the event at SLAC via JoAnne at Cosmic Variance.

You may have heard the wild rumors circulating around the physics blogosphere about the CDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) experiment taking place deep underground in an abandoned mine in northern Minnesota.  The rumor (which apparently started with this post at Resonaances) took some unusual behavior by the CDMS team, combined with the rumor of an article being published in Nature, led many to speculate that they were planning to announce detection of dark matter.

It turns out that these rumors were overly dramatic — apparently there is no Nature article, and Priscilla Cushman from the University of Minnesota has downplayed the rumors, calling them “lots of smoke and not much fire.”

However, they are still making dual announcements today at 5 o’clock EST, one at SLAC and one at Fermilab, and one will be webcast here.  So they have some sort of semi-major announcement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a claim of detection.  It could be a significant improvement on their experimental limits, or maybe detections at a level that doesn’t allow them to make any big claims.  For more thoughts on what might be announced, and what it might mean, see this post.

And now for a little speculation of my own:

Continue reading ‘Rumors of the Dark Side’

I’m Not That Kind of Nerd

The other day, while chatting with some of my fellow grad students, the conversation, so I thought, turned to football.  After a couple of my comments were met with no response, I realized that they were actually talking about the professional computer gaming league that they follow online.  Somewhat embarrassed, I turned my attention back to my pizza and waited for the topic of conversation to turn back to physics.

Later, I laughed at the irony of this situation.  You would think someone obsessed with Starcraft would be awkwardly left out of the football conversation, not the other way around.  But it was just another thing that made me realize that I’m not like these nerds.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a HUGE nerd.  I’m a physics graduate student, and I write a blog about it.  That’s enough for most of the population to put me stamp me with the NERD label.  And I’m fine with that.  I embrace my physics nerdiness.

But it’s the other interests that are generally assumed to go along with the math and science nerd stereotype where I fail to fit in.  I only like the most mainstream of science fiction and fantasy (Star Wars and Harry Potter).  Other than my Mario Kart skills and a brief obsession with Halo on my roommate’s XBox in college, I never really got into computer or video games.  I never read comic books.  I’m not all that interested in becoming technically adept in all the minutiae of computers.  Yet these are all the interests of your classic nerd.

(These are not just stereotypes, by the way.  I’m sure that you’ll find a statistically significant number of math/physics/computer science types like these things much more than I do.)

Continue reading ‘I’m Not That Kind of Nerd’