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Where is Physics Headed (and How Soon Do We Get There)?

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The long run belongs to those that put together for it, as scientists who petition federal companies like NASA and the Division of Power for analysis funds know all too properly. The worth of big-ticket devices like an area telescope or particle accelerator will be as excessive as $10 billion.

And so this previous June, the physics neighborhood started to think about what they need to do subsequent, and why.

That’s the mandate of a committee appointed by the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, referred to as Elementary Particle Physics: Progress and Promise. Sharing the chairmanship are two outstanding scientists: Maria Spiropulu, Shang-Yi Ch’en Professor of Physics on the California Institute of Expertise, and the cosmologist Michael Turner, an emeritus professor on the College of Chicago, the previous assistant director of the Nationwide Science Basis and former president of the American Bodily Society.

Within the Nineteen Eighties, Dr. Turner was among the many scientists who started utilizing the instruments of particle physics to check the Huge Bang and the evolution of the universe, and the universe to find out about particle physics. Dr. Spiropulu, born in Greece, was on the workforce in 2012 that found the long-sought Higgs boson on the European Group for Nuclear Analysis, often known as CERN; she now makes use of quantum computer systems to research the properties of wormholes. The committee’s report is scheduled for launch in June 2024.

Not too long ago The Occasions met with the 2 scientists to debate the group’s progress, the disappointments of the final 20 years and the challenges forward. The dialog has been edited for readability and brevity.


Why convene this committee now?

Turner: I really feel like issues have by no means been extra thrilling in particle physics, by way of the alternatives to grasp area and time, matter and power, and the elemental particles — if they’re even particles. If you happen to requested a particle physicist the place the sphere goes, you’d get numerous completely different solutions.

However what’s the grand imaginative and prescient? What’s so thrilling about this discipline? I used to be so excited in 1980 in regards to the concept of grand unification, and that now appears small in comparison with the probabilities forward.

You’re referring to Grand Unified Theories, or GUTs, which had been thought-about a method to obtain Einstein’s dream of a single equation that encompassed all of the forces of nature. The place are we on unification?

Turner: So far as we all know, the essential constructing blocks of matter are quarks and leptons; the foundations that govern them are described by the quantum discipline idea referred to as the Customary Mannequin. Along with the constructing blocks, there are pressure carriers — the photon, of the electromagnetic pressure; eight gluons, of the sturdy coloration pressure; the W and Z bosons, of the weak nuclear pressure, and the Higgs boson, which explains why some particles have mass. The invention of the Higgs boson accomplished the Customary Mannequin.


However the quest for the elemental guidelines will not be over. Why two completely different sorts of constructing blocks? Why so many “elementary” particles? Why 4 forces? How do darkish matter, darkish power, gravity and space-time slot in? Answering these questions is the work of elementary particle physics.

Spiropulu: The curveball is that we don’t perceive the mass of the Higgs, which is about 125 occasions the mass of a hydrogen atom.

After we found the Higgs, the very first thing we anticipated was to search out these different new supersymmetric particles, as a result of the mass we measured was unstable with out their presence, however we haven’t discovered them but. (If the Higgs discipline collapsed, we may bubble out into a distinct universe — and naturally that hasn’t occurred but.)

That has been somewhat bit crushing; for 20 years I’ve been chasing the supersymmetrical particles. So we’re like deer within the headlights: We didn’t discover supersymmetry, we didn’t discover darkish matter as a particle.

Turner. The unification of the forces is simply a part of what’s occurring. However it’s boring compared to the bigger questions on area and time. Discussing what area and time are and the place they got here from is now inside the realm of particle physics.


From the angle of cosmology, the Huge Bang is the origin of area and time, at the very least from the perspective of Einstein’s basic relativity. So the origin of the universe, area and time are all linked. And does the universe have an finish? Is there a multiverse? What number of areas and occasions are there? Does that query even make sense?

Spiropulu: To me, by the best way, unification will not be boring. Simply saying.

Turner: I meant boring comparatively talking. It’s nonetheless very attention-grabbing!

Spiropulu: The strongest trace now we have of the unity of nature comes from particle physics. At excessive sufficient energies, the elemental forces — gravity, electromagnetism and the sturdy and weak nuclear forces — appear to develop into equal.

However now we have not reached the God scale in our particle accelerators. So probably now we have to reframe the query. In my opinion the final word legislation stays a persistent puzzle, and the best way we clear up it’ll be by new pondering.


Turner: I like what Maria is saying. It looks like now we have all of the items of the puzzle on the desk; it appears just like the 4 completely different forces we see are simply completely different sides of a unified pressure. However that might not be the proper method to phrase the query.

That’s the hallmark of nice science: You ask a query, and sometimes it seems to be the flawed query, however it’s important to ask a query simply to search out out it’s the flawed one. Whether it is, you ask a brand new one.

String idea — the vaunted “idea of the whole lot” — describes the essential particles and forces in nature as vibrating strings of power. Is there hope on our horizon for higher understanding it? This alleged stringiness solely exhibits up at energies hundreds of thousands of occasions increased than what might be achieved by any particle accelerator ever imagined. Some scientists criticize string idea as being exterior science.

Spiropulu: It’s not testable.

Turner: However it’s a highly effective mathematical device. And for those who take a look at the progress of science over the previous 2,500 years, from the Milesians, who started with out arithmetic, to the current, arithmetic has been the pacing merchandise. Geometry, algebra, Newton and calculus, and Einstein and non-Riemannian geometry.


Spiropulu: I’d be extra daring and say that string idea is a framework, like different frameworks now we have found, inside which we attempt to clarify the bodily world. The Customary Mannequin is a framework — and within the ranges of energies that we will take a look at it, the framework has proved to be helpful.

Turner: One other method to say it’s that now we have new phrases and language to explain nature. Arithmetic is the language of science, and the extra our language is enriched, the extra absolutely we will describe nature. We must wait and see what comes from string idea, however I feel it is going to be huge.

Among the many many options of string idea is that the equations appear to have 10⁵⁰⁰ options — describing 10⁵⁰⁰ completely different potential universes or much more. Can we stay in a multiverse?

Turner: I feel now we have to take care of it, although it sounds loopy. And the multiverse provides me a headache; not being testable, at the very least not but, it isn’t science. However it could be an important concept of our time. It’s one of many issues on the desk. Headache or not, now we have to take care of it. It must go up or out; both it’s a part of science or it isn’t a part of science.

Why is it thought-about a triumph that the usual mannequin of cosmology doesn’t say what 95 % of the universe is? Solely 5 % of it’s atomic materials like stars and folks; 25 % is another “darkish matter,” and about 70 % is one thing even weirder — Mike has named it “darkish power” — that’s inflicting the universe to broaden at an accelerating fee.


Turner: That’s an enormous success, yeah. We’ve named all the main elements.

However you don’t know what most of them are.

Spiropulu: We get stalled once we attain very deep. And sooner or later we have to change gear — change the query or the methodology. On the finish of the day, understanding the physics of the universe will not be a stroll within the park. Extra questions go unanswered than are answered.

If unification is the flawed query, what’s the proper one?

Turner: I don’t suppose you possibly can speak about area, time, matter, power and elementary particles with out speaking in regards to the historical past of the universe.


The Huge Bang appears just like the origin of area and time, and so we will ask, What are area and time actually? Einstein confirmed us that they’re not simply the place the place issues occur, as Newton mentioned. They’re dynamical: area can bend and time can warp. However now we’re able to reply the query: The place did they arrive from?

We’re creatures of time, so we expect the universe is all about time. And which may be the flawed means to have a look at the universe.

We have now to remember what you mentioned earlier. Lots of the instruments in particle physics take a really very long time to develop and are very costly. These investments all the time repay, typically with huge surprises that change the course of science.

And that makes progress difficult. However I’m bullish on particle physics as a result of the alternatives have by no means been larger and the sphere has been on the bleeding fringe of science for years. Particle physics invented huge, international science, and nationwide and now international services. If historical past is any information, nothing will forestall them from answering the massive questions!

It took three a long time to construct the James Webb House Telescope.


Spiropulu: House — bingo!

Turner: I imply, science is all about huge goals. Generally the goals are past your instant attain. However science has allowed humankind to do huge issues — Covid vaccines, the Massive Hadron Collider, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, the Webb telescope. — that stretch our imaginative and prescient and our energy to form our future. After we do these huge issues these days, we do them collectively. If we proceed to dream huge and work collectively, much more wonderful issues lie forward.

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What’s the Correct Color of Bees? In Austria, It’s a Toxic Topic.

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STOCKENBOI, Austria — Sandro Huter was decided to defend his bees, which have been dealing with a looming dying sentence.

A beekeeper within the forested Austrian state of Carinthia, Mr. Huter was happy with his colonies. His bugs have been industrious, wholesome and so docile that he informed the visiting state bee inspector there was no must put on a bee swimsuit or hat and veil.

However the bees’ demeanor was not what the state inspector on that fall day in 2018. The official’s consideration was skilled as a substitute on a wholly totally different attribute: the bees’ coloration.  

“My bees have been too darkish,” Mr. Huter recalled being informed. “Leather-based brown-orange,” the inspector wrote within the state’s report.

To adapt with the legislation, Mr. Huter must exchange his darkish queens with light-gray ones.


Mr. Huter refused. “It’s racial fanaticism,” he mentioned.

Internationally, pesticides, new illnesses, local weather change and habitat loss are killing bees and different pollinators, which play a necessary position in agriculture, at an ominous pace, with the mass die-off placing many fruits and grains in danger.

But the principally rural state of Carinthia, which borders Slovenia and Italy, doesn’t care solely in regards to the well being of the bees pollinating its apple orchards and chestnut bushes. It additionally insists that each one of them be Carniolan honey bees, with their signature light-gray belly rings, the one subspecies that state legislation has allowed right here since 2007.

As with all domesticated and semi-domesticated animals, bees have lengthy been bred by their keepers for sure traits, and the Carniolan is taken into account effectively tailored for its alpine residence, higher than different honey bees at surviving the snowy winters and sometimes capricious climate. And whereas Carniolans will aggressively defend their hives towards parasites and honey thieves, they’re recognized to be fairly docile round their human handlers.

So Carinthia’s legislation has many supporters among the many state’s apiarists, keen to maintain unwelcome traits out of the native bee gene pool. The neighboring state of Styria has the same legislation, as does Slovenia.


However the legislation’s opponents see in it at the very least the echo of the realm’s Nazi previous — and cite Nazi historical past to additional their level.

“It’s a racist dictatorship, similar to below the Nazis,” mentioned Gerhard Klinger, the top of a beekeeping affiliation within the valley of Lavanttal, the place there are 10 persevering with authorized proceedings towards beekeepers accused of harboring impure hives.

The Third Reich’s head beekeeper, Gottfried Götze, was a champion of Carniolan honey bees, and he was satisfied that native bees needs to be the unique alternative relied on to produce honey to the Wehrmacht in addition to the beeswax utilized in bombs.

“What use is importing overseas breeds,” Götze wrote in a beekeeping journal in 1938, “if our native German bee is misplaced?”

Whereas Götze was obsessive about retaining the Carniolan honey bees genetically distinct, the bees themselves have been detached to the colour of their mating companions. To attempt to management the bees’ replica, the Nazis instructed beekeepers to convey their queens to mating stations the place pedigreed Carniolan drones awaited them.


However the fences that management the mating of cows or pigs can’t be erected for bees, and research counsel that round a half-billion of Carinthia’s bees — or greater than 1 / 4 of the overall inhabitants in its estimated 45,000 bee colonies — are actually too darkish, too brown, too orange or too yellow to qualify as Carniolan.

These in favor of retaining Carinthia a Carniolan-exclusive zone level to such numbers as each a menace and proof that the legislation wants stricter enforcement.

“It’s completely tailored to this area, over 1000’s of years,” mentioned Kurt Strmljan, 67, surrounded by his apple and plum bushes. “That is the ancestral residence of the Carniolan,” he added. “That’s one thing worthy of being protected.”

He recalled how his father had positioned him answerable for his first Carniolan colony when he was 8. At the moment, he insists, “there have been no foreign-race bees.” 

Now a retiree, Mr. Strmljan sees his goals of passing down his Carniolan bees to his 9-year-old granddaughter endangered.


Diluting the Carniolans’ genetic purity, he worries, “will make them aggressive, similar to any combined breed,” and so they would possibly assault his granddaughter, he anxious.

The Carniolan query has led to an escalating battle between the state’s apiarists, with some even chasing after wrong-colored culprits and snapping images of the hives they return to as proof used to tell on fellow beekeepers and get the state to open an investigation.

Each side describe an environment of concern and intimidation, through which the discourse is so poisonous that many refuse to speak about their bees. The state councilor answerable for agriculture, Martin Gruber, mentioned he wouldn’t give an interview on the difficulty earlier than native elections in March.  

Mr. Strmljan and others suspect that a few of the state’s beekeepers have illegally imported different, doubtlessly extra productive subspecies to ramp up honey quantity. Mr. Huter and others deny this accusation, insisting that their bees are additionally Carniolans, and that a few of them merely come in several colours.

Certainly, coloration alone just isn’t a foolproof solution to determine a Carniolan, based on scientists.


“It’s tough to attempt to outline it on coloration alone with out investigating the genetic background in each,” mentioned Kirsten Traynor, the director of the institute for bee analysis on the College of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. Combined mating also can enhance a hive’s well being and vitality, Ms. Traynor added. “Research present that when you might have genetically numerous drones that the queen mates with, the colony is definitely extra resistant towards illnesses,” she mentioned.

Since Mr. Huter’s hives have been investigated 5 years in the past, the state has come to just accept that coloration alone can’t be the one figuring out issue, so now when a hive is inspected, pattern bees are despatched for additional evaluation, the place an professional examines the bees’ wings, the width of their belly rings and the size of their physique hairs.

If the measurements of greater than two of fifty collected specimens deviate from Carniolan traits, the whole colony is flagged and, below the present legislation, the queen bees should be changed.

For now, Mr. Huter’s bees have eluded any executions.

After being ordered by the state to eliminate his darkish queens, Mr. Huter appealed his case to the federal administrative courtroom in Vienna — and he received, with the courtroom calling the state’s method “grossly illegal,” partly as a result of on the time it was relying solely on a bee’s coloration.


Partly in response to that federal courtroom ruling, which faulted the state for failing to say with extra precision what makes a bee a real Carniolan, Carinthia is contemplating proposed amendments to the state legislation that will extra explicitly outline the subspecies — and would stiffen the penalties for each impure bees and the people who increase them.

The utmost tremendous for keepers who harbor combined bees can be raised to 7,500 euros (about $8,160) from 5,000 (about $5,440). (Some within the pro-Carniolan camp had pushed for jail sentences.)

However for bees, it’s a lot worse: Below the proposed legislation, which is topic to approval by the state’s Parliament, if there’s an “imminent hazard” of combined mating — for instance, with a neighbor’s hives — the authorities can instantly seize and eradicate not solely the colony’s queens, however the whole offending hive.

Though she helps the stricter legislation, the bee inspector who visited Mr. Huter’s colony in 2018, Barbara Kircher, mentioned she did fear in regards to the public outcry that will almost definitely comply with state staff’ killing a complete colony, which usually has 40,000 to 80,000 bees.

“We’d be described as mass murderers,” Ms. Kircher mentioned, shortly earlier than she retired from her position in December.


Ms. Traynor, the bee professional, mentioned the state’s urge to guard fascinating traits in its bees was comprehensible. “Native breeding makes loads of sense as a result of these bees are tailored to a neighborhood area,” she mentioned.

However she mentioned the frequent focus in German-speaking nations specifically on the racial purity of a subspecies was misplaced.

“In different nations, you might have extra of a ‘let’s attempt to mix all the very best traits in a single bee, no matter the place these genetics come from,’” she mentioned. “Race purity amongst human populations has been problematic, and I don’t know why we are attempting to do the identical factor for a managed piece of livestock.”

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How to Stay Safe in Extreme Cold Weather

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As an Arctic blast bombards the Northeastern United States, temperatures have plunged, and persons are bracing for excessive wind chill. Those that can be affected by the chilly ought to keep inside as a lot as potential. If it’s important to exit, shield your self from the dangers related to icy circumstances, together with falls and automobile accidents. The unanimous recommendation from specialists: Train excessive warning.

You’ll additionally need to bundle up and canopy any uncovered pores and skin to keep away from frostbite and hypothermia. Right here’s the right way to spot the indicators of these circumstances — and what to do if you happen to suppose somebody has developed them.

In excessive chilly, uncovered pores and skin can develop frostbite in as little as 5 minutes, stated George T. Chiampas, an emergency medication physician and a professor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

The physique’s first response to excessive chilly is to limit blood and oxygen circulate from its extremities, with the intention to protect main organs, he stated. And the primary indicators of frostbite together with tingling or ache within the affected areas. In the event you suppose you’ve gotten frostbite, it is best to instantly go inside and verify your self for any discoloration or different clear indicators of the situation. Fingers, toes and the face are most frequently affected.

Individuals with frostbite typically don’t understand what is occurring, as a result of their fingers or different elements of their our bodies go numb because it units in. And if they’re additionally experiencing hypothermia, which might be lethal, their judgment may very well be impaired.


Look ahead to indicators of frostbite, together with pores and skin that has blistered or change into discolored or that feels unusually agency or waxy. The situation may end up in everlasting injury and amputation and might be extra harmful the longer it goes with out therapy.

In the event you suppose you’ve gotten frostbite, keep away from utilizing a heating pad or scorching water, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention warns: If the affected space is numb, you possibly can get burned. Till you may see a health care provider, immerse the realm in heat water, grow to be dry heat garments and use blankets and physique warmth, corresponding to tucking fingers into armpits.

The C.D.C. warns towards strolling on frostbitten ft or toes or massaging affected areas, which might improve injury.

When the physique is uncovered to the chilly for extended intervals, it begins to lose warmth quicker than it may produce it, in response to the C.D.C. Moist circumstances are particularly harmful, even in comparatively hotter temperatures. A low physique temperature renders main organs incapable of functioning correctly and might be lethal. Older adults and others with poor circulation are significantly susceptible.

Within the early levels of hypothermia, individuals typically change into disoriented or drowsy. Their judgment could also be compromised. Fumbling and slurred speech are telltale indicators. This makes hypothermia particularly harmful, in response to the C.D.C., “as a result of an individual might not know that it’s occurring and gained’t be capable to do something about it.”


The company advises taking the particular person’s temperature if you happen to discover any of these signs. A temperature beneath 95 signifies an emergency, requiring rapid medical consideration.

Till you may get medical help, get the particular person inside, take away moist clothes and gently heat the physique, the company says. You can provide the particular person heat drinks, however keep away from alcohol, because it causes the physique to lose warmth extra quickly.

In circumstances of extreme hypothermia, the sufferer could also be unconscious — and could seem not even to have a pulse, or to be respiratory. However some hypothermia victims who seem useless might be resuscitated, the C.D.C. says. Name 911 and administer CPR if potential.

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Brazil Says It’s Started Sinking an Old Warship, Hazardous Material and All

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RIO DE JANEIRO — The Brazilian Navy stated on Friday night it had begun an operation to sink the decommissioned plane service São Paulo, full of an undetermined quantity of asbestos and different poisonous supplies, about 220 miles off the nation’s northeastern coast.

A navy information launch didn’t give particulars of the operation, and it was not clear whether or not the ship had gone down. Naval officers didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

The service had spent months at sea, refused permission to dock again in Brazil after plans to recycle the ship in Turkey collapsed. Environmental teams accused Brazilian officers and the corporate that owned the ship of underreporting the quantity of hazardous materials aboard. Below stress from environmental teams, Turkey canceled permission for São Paulo to dock after the ship and its tug had already reached Gibraltar.

The vessel, by then in want of upkeep, was compelled to go again to Brazil, the place it was equally refused permission to dock by civilian officers. The navy, for unexplained causes, additionally refused to supply its bases. So the ship spent months being towed in circles as its situation deteriorated.

A navy information launch this week warned of “deteriorating hull buoyancy circumstances and the inevitability of spontaneous/uncontrolled sinking.”


Officers had stated earlier that the 30,000-ton service can be sunk off Pernambuco State at a spot about 3,000 miles deep, exterior any environmentally protected zones or areas with undersea cables.

Within the final decade, in response to the Shipbreaking Platform, a watchdog group that advocates for sustainable recycling, Brazilian corporations have disposed of greater than 50 vessels in South Asia, the place laws for dealing with poisonous supplies are lax.

“A number of of those vessels had been exported from Brazilian ports with out following the worldwide guidelines on trans-boundary actions of hazardous waste,” stated Nicola Mulinaris, a coverage adviser at Shipbreaking Platform.

The plan to recycle São Paulo in Turkey was considered Brazil’s first effort to scrap a ship underneath well-regulated circumstances.

The poisonous materials aboard São Paulo may disrupt ecosystems, kill animals and vegetation and poison marine meals chains with heavy metals, in response to IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental company.


Rosângela Muniz, the interim director of IBAMA’s environmental high quality division, stated the company had requested the navy for data, together with the strategy that will be used to sink the ship, so it may assist mitigate the influence. There had been no response by the top of enterprise on Friday.

Ms. Muniz stated her group was pissed off that the hassle to recycle São Paulo sustainably had failed.

“This ship is an environmental legal responsibility that has just one appropriate vacation spot: recycling,” she stated. “We all know there might be different requests like this one that may get to IBAMA, and we hope they are going to have an final result that’s higher for the surroundings.”

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