I am a third year PhD student (my how time has flown...) working within the ATLAS Collaboration, which is one of the multi-purpose detectors installed at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. I have completed a period of 18 monthes living and working out at CERN on a long-term attachement from my home institution (Royal Holloway, Univeristy of London). This tumblr is a platform from which I can try to educate and inform others interested in particle physics and wonderful science, as well as provide some insight into the workings of a PhD. Click here to see the kinds of things I like. You can find my personal tumblr here.
Women in Science (and why such an identification in this title should not exist)
This is a nice summary showing the issues which face all the focus groups trying to remove the gender divide in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
At Royal Holloway a couple of weeks ago (on my birthday no less :) ) Athene Donald came to give a seminar on “Women in Science”, her own career and the work she has been doing to try and improve the situation.
For me, the clear difference comes from early age stereotypes which is then propagated through time into adulthood where these subconscious stereotypes remain. It is very difficult to overcome subconscious biases in anything, but I think the first step is realising that there isn’t a clear reason why women can’t have as a successful career in science as men.
In the past, misogyny played its role in preventing women from having any academic interests. However, this means that the majority of the great scientists in the 1800s and 1900s were male. This means their portraits adorn many walls, looking down on new students, so that even in university, there is perhaps a lack of clear, obvious female role models.
At an even younger age, having segregation between toys “designed” for boys and girls imposes an assumption that is a gender divide in “things people are good at”. In reality, the only difference between gender should be hormonal. This might mean that women feel more empathy than men and this might cause a shift in the ratio of genders doing work related to that. However, hormones should not play a role in how well you can calculate a problem in applied mathematics or whether you should be better or worse at STEM subject.
I think the most telling issue with unconscious bias comes from studies that show with identical applications, but differing names, women are as likely as men to choose a male candidate in science. The issue here is that a woman in science has already overcome all the unconscious biases in her field and has persevered, perhaps still in a male-dominated subject, which has only served to support the unconscious stereotypes in her mind that men are typically better than women at science.
To defeat this problem requires commitment from all sides, but primarily it requires re-education of people and a change in attitudes towards science. These changes cannot happen gradually, because we need to work at every age level simultaneously to wipe out the thoughts that a gender divide in science is expected. It should not be expected and we should all fight to help as many people (men or women) reach their full potential without being subjected to unconscious biases and stereotyping.
KEK | HIGH ENERGY ACCELERATOR RESEARCH ORGANIZATION
The European Physical Society conference known as EPS is currently taking place in Stockholm. Many results are being presented from CERN, but here is another interesting particle physics results to have been presented.
T2K is a long baseline neutrino experiment. The J-PARC facility in Tokai generates a beam of muon neutrinos which travel 295km to the Super-Kamiokande detector. This detector is consists of a vast volume of ultra-pure water, surrounded by photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). This is then shielded as well as possible from external particles, such that the only thing that should interact in the water are neutrinos. When a neutrino interacts and generates an electron or a muon, they give off Cherenkov radiation due to them travelling faster than the speed of light in that medium. This light is emitted as a cone and appears as rings of light in the PMTs. Electrons and muons appears with different ring signatures, allowing for them to be distinguished between.
Today, the T2K collaboration have presented results indicating direct evidence that muon neutrinos oscillate to electron neutrinos. This oscillation is dependent on parameters such as the energy and distance travelled, but the experiment is designed such that if correct, a significant number of muon neutrinos will take oscillate to electron neutrinos when they interact inside Super-K. They detected 28 electron events which in a background-only hypothesis would expect only 4.6 events. This provides a 7.5 sigma evidence that muon neutrinos oscillate to electron neutrinos.
Click on this, play with the checkboxes and scroll around the page, you will not regret it.
Hubble stared at a tiny patch of sky for twenty-three days straight to produce this beautiful image of thousands of galaxies, some of which are 13.2 billion years old. This is the “deepest” image of the sky to date, known as the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field.
Dr Stephen Wilkins (Uni of Sussex, UK) has merged all the images taken of XDF with different telescopes, and has catalogued the luminosities (a measure of brightness), redshift (a measure of distance, the higher the number the further away the galaxy is) and spectral energy distributions (energy signatures across all colours of light) for each galaxy.
An opportunity here to look into the depths of the Universe with Hubble and see a deep field image in multiple wavelengths. The cataloguing and ease of use is very impressive.
This beautiful animation (seriously give it a few seconds to load!), effectively showing the world at work, actually comes from some 420,000 computers which were hacked by an anonymous researcher. The hacking was low-level and relatively friendly - the computer was pinged from time to time to check its connectivity and it did not interfere with the main programs being run (and even a message was left when it was done explaining what had happened and a contact email).
There is further information available on this post on Motherboard, and whilst no-one will condone hacking activities, one can still marvel at the data flow which can be visualised.
Another nice interactive website, but instead of looking at the scale of objects and the Universe from a spatial perspective, it looks at the amount of time that has stretched before us, and the relative proportions of different eras of development of the Universe and life.
The Science Museum will host an immersive exhibition bringing to life the science which goes into the Large Hadron Collider, at CERN, and they physics which is being studied with the vast quantities of proton-proton collision data collected by the various experiments.
It looks set to be an impressive exhibition, running for six months, from November 2013. Tickets are available online now and futher information can also be found through the link!
WolframAlpha have been running an app where users can generate a report on their Facebook account and also anonymously provide data to some central servers. This data has recently been analysed and some interesting results have been produced. I’ve only just come across this, but I will be signing up asap as this kind of social science/ data analysis can be very interesting and enlightening.
The first graph above shows (quite stereotypical) comparisons between males and females and the frequency with which they post about certain topics. However, there are a number of other interesting plots which have been produced. For instance, people with lots of friends tend to be friends with people who also have lots of friends. It might sound trivial, but its an interesting result.
Its interesting to see that that within different ages, there are clear peaks around your own age to show you have a lot of friends your age. Even more interesting is the width of these peak though for people between the age of 20 and 30. People in this age bracket (myself included) came through an age of slow dialup internet during our childhood, using many social networking sites and were maturing when Facebook was becoming THE social network. I think because of this, the peak around their own age is in stark contrast to much younger people (who have had Facebook since learning how to use a computer) and to older people, who have acquired more friends and family over time.
I would reccommend checking out the article, linked at the bottom, as well as signing up for some anonomous data collection, because after all, there are so many apps now on Facebook which try to get your information such as to profile you (in some cases trying to do so without your permission) that its interesting to see where you might fit within the boundaries of social typing.