The Sciences

From the Tau to Dark Energy: Martin Perl's Blog

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollNov 2, 2011 6:22 PM


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Physicists have certainly been ahead of the information-technological curve at times. The web was invented at CERN, and of course we mastered open publishing simply by doing it, while other disciplines have struggled to come up with workable models. But senior physicists -- not youngsters, who are always eager to try new things, but more established types -- have generally looked askance at blogging, for hard-to-discern reasons. In math we have Fields Medalists blogging up a storm, in economics there are multiple blogs by Nobel Laureates, but physicists on the far side of the "young and striving"/"senior and respected" divide have largely stayed away. (My colleagues here at CV are enormously respected, but in my mind they will always be youthful.)

So we're extremely happy to note that Martin Perl (at an enthusiastic 84 years young!) has jumped into the blogosphere, with Reflections on Physics: From the Tau to Dark Energy. Perl shared the Nobel Prize in 1995 for the kind of result that every physicist dreams of achieving, but few actually do: the discovery of a new elementary particle. In particular, the tau lepton, the heaviest of the three charged leptons (along with the electron and muon). Not too shabby. Martin's first post is on Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos and the Dynamics of the Internet. He finds the OPERA results intriguing, but thinks that figuring them out is going to require new experiments, not clever outsiders trying to figure out where they went wrong. I would tend to trust his judgment here. It's fantastic to have another great physicist taking the time to reach out to a broader audience. Note that Martin is at SLAC, along with our own JoAnne and Risa. Something about the Palo Alto coffee that nudges one toward blogging?

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