Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 10 Physics Stories of 2007

The American Institute of Physics is out with their top ten physics stories of 2007, and although it isn't yet on their Web site it will probably be here when it appears. There's nothing too terribly exciting. Here they are, in chronological order:
  • light, slowed in one Bose Einstein condensate (BEC), is passed on to another BEC
  • electron tunneling in real time can be observed with the use of attosecond pulses
  • laser cooling of coin-sized object, at least in one dimension
  • the best test ever of Newton's second law, using a tabletop torsion pendulum
  • first Gravity Probe B first results, the measurement of the geodetic effect---the warping of spacetime in the vicinity of and caused by Earth-to a precision of 1%, with better precision yet to come
  • the MiniBooNE experiment at Fermilab solves a neutrino mystery, apparently dismissing the possibility of a fourth species of neutrino
  • the Tevatron, in its quest to observe the Higgs boson, updated the top quark mass and observed several new types of collision events, such as those in which only a single top quark is made, and those in which a W and Z boson or two Z bosons are made simultaneously
  • the shortest light pulse, a 130-attosecond burst of extreme ultraviolet light
  • based on data recorded at the Auger Observatory, astronomers conclude that the highest energy cosmic rays come from active galactic nuclei
  • and the observation of Cooper pairs in insulators
For my purposes, the most exciting result is MiniBooNE's ruling out of a 4th neutrino species. But at this rate it appears that the 21st century is really going to be the century of biology.

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