Dear readers of the 'Dark and Otherwise' blog, I have moved my personal webpage and the "Dark and Otherwise" blog to a brand new new website: gianfrancobertone.net (see snapshot of the homepage on the right). Don't forget to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
The 2012 edition of the TeV Particle Astrophysics series will be held from December 10 to 14 at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, in Mumbai, India.
The preliminary website http://tevpa2012.tifr.res.in will soon be updated as the scientific programme shapes up.
Feel free to contact the chairs of the Scientific (Gianfranco Bertone, gf.bertone at gmail dot com) or Local Organizing Committees (Sunil K. Gupta, gupta at grapes dot tifr dot res dot in) for further information.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
The GRAPPA Institute hosted on April 12 and 13 an ‘Amsterdam-Paris-Stockholm’ workshop on Dark Matter: an informal meeting with Astroparticle groups in Paris and Stockholm. The participants included: Chiara Arina (RWTH Aachen), Alexander Belikov (IAP Paris), Lars Bergstrom (OKC Stockholm), Gianfranco Bertone (GRAPPA Amsterdam), Maria Cabrera (U. Autonoma Madrid, soon GRAPPA Amsterdam), Marco Cirelli (CERN/CEA Saclay), Patrick Decowski (GRAPPA Amsterdam), Joakim Edsjo (OKC Stockholm), Silvia Galli (IAP Paris), Fabio Iocco (OKC Stockholm), Paul de Jong (NIKHEF Amsterdam), Joe Silk (IAP Paris), Tracy Slatyer (IAS Princeton).
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The GRAPPA Institute invites applications for a faculty (tenure-track or tenured) position as well as for several positions at the postdoctoral level.
The GRAPPA Institute seeks to appoint in 2012 an additional tenured-track or tenured professor with a proven record of interdisciplinary research in Astroparticle Physics, an excellent publication record, and ability to teach inspiringly and attract external research funding. The job will be announced here, along with the details of the application procedure (deadline will probably be around mid December 2011).
GRAPPA Postdoctoral Fellowship
The GRAPPA (Gravitation AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam) Institute is a new initiative within the Science Faculty of the University of Amsterdam. Launched in October 2011, GRAPPA is a collaboration between the institutes for Theoretical Physics, Astronomy and High Energy Physics. Five new faculty have just been hired: Shin'ichiro Ando, Gianfranco Bertone, Patrick Decowski, Ben Freivogel and Jacco Vink, whose research interests include dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos, and cosmic rays, with a focus on both theoretical modeling of astrophysical source physics as well as (in)direct detection. In addition, there are about 15 affiliated GRAPPA faculty from the collaborating institutes, who are involved in experimental work at Antares/KM3NeT, ATLAS, XENON1T/XENON100, CTA and LOFAR, as well as theory.
We are pleased to announce the creation of the first GRAPPA Postdoctoral Fellowship, and we are currently looking for excellent researchers who would like to work on projects relevant to the GRAPPA interdisciplinary program, either independently or in collaboration with existing members. Candidates should have a background in a field related to astroparticle physics, and they should have obtained their PhD after January 2008 or expect to obtain it by September 2012. The Fellowship appointment will be for 3 years, with a salary set by Dutch labor law, including generous benefits and funds for travel, computers, etc.
Candidates should send a cover letter, a research statement, and a curriculum vitae including publications to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject "GRAPPA Fellowship". The research statement (maximum 4 pages) should include a summary of past research and an explanation of how the proposed research fits into the GRAPPA initiative. Candidates should also ensure that three letters of recommendation are sent to the same address by the deadline, December 15, 2011.
ERC postdoctoral positions
The GRAPPA Institute invites applications for one or two postdoctoral positions in the framework of the ERC Starting Grant "WIMPs Kairos: The moment of truth for WIMP Dark Matter", coordinated by G. Bertone. A strong background in in the phenomenology of Dark Matter is preferred, but all exceptional candidates will be considered. Candidates should have obtained their PhD after January 2008 or expect to obtain it by September 2012.
The GRAPPA (Gravitation AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam) Institute is a new initiative within the Science Faculty of the University of Amsterdam. Launched in October 2011, GRAPPA is a collaboration between the institutes for Theoretical Physics, Astronomy and High Energy Physics (http://uvaapp.nl/). Five new faculty have just been hired: Shin'ichiro Ando, Gianfranco Bertone, Patrick Decowski, Ben Freivogel and Jacco Vink, whose research interests include dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos, and cosmic rays, with a focus on both theoretical modeling of astrophysical source physics as well as (in)direct detection. In addition, there are about 15 affiliated GRAPPA faculty from the collaborating institutes, who are involved in experimental work at Antares/KM3NeT, ATLAS, XENON1T/XENON100, CTA and LOFAR, as well as theory.
Candidates should send a cover letter, a research statement of up to 4 pages, and a curriculum vitae including publications to email@example.com, with the subject "ERC postdoc". Candidates should also ensure that at least two letters of recommendation are sent to the same address by the deadline, December 15, 2011.
All candidates will be automatically considered for other postdoctoral positions in the group, including the 3-year GRAPPA postdoctoral fellowship.http://uvaapp.nl/index.html
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Galileo Galilei Institute (GGI) hosts workshops in theoretical particle physics (in a building overlooking the beautiful landscape of tuscan hills, photo). Last week, I have co-organized an event, the Dark Workshop, to discuss the present status and future lines of research of Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Thank you to all speakers and organizers! All presentations can be found on the workshop website
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Congratulations to Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess
(image above: as a homage to the winners, a lambda-shaped word cloud produced with the press release of the Nobel committee).
Friday, September 23, 2011
When your non-physicists friends start to send emails with links to headlines of big newspapers (usually titled 'Einstein was wrong': that's apparently the best the average reporter can come up with) it means something potentially interesting is happening. In fact, after days of rumors, the results of the Opera experiment have been announced
And they are frankly bizarre. Ready? Neutrinos (in this specific case those fired from CERN to the Gran Sasso laboratories) seem to travel faster than the speed of light, therefore violating one of the pillars of modern physics. Now, the members of the Opera collaboration themselves are very cautious. Before throwing away our theories, let's see if other experiments are able to reproduce this result.
Friday, August 5, 2011
TeV Particle Astrophysics 2011 conference in Stockholm. Tack så mycket to the LOC for the terrific job done! You can find the slides of most presentations on the conference website. Stay tuned for the 2012 edition, that will take place at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India, from December 11 to 15.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
GRAPPA (Gravitation and AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam) is the name of the new center of excellence of the University of Amsterdam. In an unprecedented effort, the University hired 4 new professors in 2011 (Shin'Ichiro Ando, Patrick Decowski, Ben Freivogel and myself) and two additional positions will be opened at the end of the year. There will be a kick-off meeting this Fall, stay tuned!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The proposal "WIMPs Kairos - The Moment of Truth for WIMP dark matter" has been placed in the priority list by a panel of experts of the European Research Council, and it will be funded under the "ERC Starting Independent Researcher Grant" scheme. The scope of this line of research is described in the proposal's incipit:
Identifying Dark Matter is a top priority in Particle Physics and Cosmology: we know it contributes 85% of all the matter in the Universe, and we know that it cannot be made of ordinary baryonic matter. What is it then? Among Dark Matter candidates, WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles) occupy a special place, since they naturally arise from well motivated extensions of the standard model of particle physics, therefore providing an elegant explanation to the Dark Matter problem. With the advent of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and of a new generation of astroparticle experiments, the moment of truth has come for WIMPs, for we will either discover them in the next 5 to 10 years, or we will inevitably witness the decline of the WIMP paradigm.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
There were big expectations for Xenon 100, a leading experiment in the race for the direct detection of Dark Matter. But the results announced today are somewhat disappointing, since the collaboration announced the detection of 3 events, while the expected background is of 1.8±0.6 events. (see also the discussion at Resonaances).
Should we panic? Not yet, in my opinion. As argued elsewhere, the best we can do is to stick to our plans, and see what ton-scale experiments (and the LHC) will tell us, before drawing our conclusions about WIMP Dark Matter.
New results of the neutrino telescope IceCube have also been published recently (see here and here). As the collaboration acknowledges: "The results from all searches are compatible with a fluctuation of the background", which means that no point sources have been detected.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The launch date of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02 ("-02" because it is the successor of first AMS experiment, flown into space in June 1998) has been postponed to April 29 (above, an image of AMS-02 in the bay of the Shuttle Endeavor).
The delay is not due to the severe weather conditions of the past week, that produced only “very minor” damage, but to a conflict with the docking operations of the Progress M-10M cargo ship, a russian vehicle that will deliver up to 2.5 t of propellant, scientific equipment, food, air, water, etc. to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled for launch on April 27 from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.
Apparently, the problem comes from the time-sensitive nature of the Progress cargo, a biological experiment which needs to be placed into one of the ISS’ freezers within days of launch..
Although postponing the launch by 10 days is not dramatic per se, the launch date is getting uncomfortably close to the end of the launch window (see here a description of how it is determined).
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The PAMELA satellite has been launched in 2006 and since then it has held many surprises. Back in 2008, the PAMELA collaboration found an anomalous cosmic positron abundance, which prompted the publication of hundreds of papers (690 citations to the original paper as of March 8, 2011).
Last week, the collaboration has published on 'Science Express' the measurement of proton and Helium spectra in the rigidity range 1 GV - 1.2 TV (see figure above). The shape of these spectra deviate significantly from the simple power-law behavior predicted by the current paradigm (see e.g. this review paper), which posits that cosmic rays in this energy range are accelerated in supernova remnants.
Interestingly, the deviations from the predictions are different from protons and He nuclei, a feature that is difficult to accomodate even in the most sophisticated models of acceleration.
In short, this means that we are probably seeing the effect of new sources of cosmic rays (in the paper the authors cite e.g. this study of a multi-component population of cosmic rays).
Monday, March 7, 2011
On March 2, the Journal of Cosmology has sent an invitation to send a 1000 words commentary on a paper of R. Hoover (go there only if you are interested, as they'll try to redirect you to the Amazon.com page of a book edited by Hoover. Very, very bad!), claiming the discovery of indigeneous microfossils in the interior of some meteorites, similar to fossilized Earth bacteria. The key-word in the sentence above is "indigenous", since it implies that these microfossils represent the remains of bacteria which lived outside the Earth.
Now, I found it rather bizarre that a journal requests a 1000 words commentary to anyone in the scientific community is willing to say something. They even specify:
Commentaries may focus entirely on Dr. Hoover's paper, or you may speculate about the implications, e.g, the evolution of life on other planets, the origin of life on Earth, our genetic ancestry, "are we alone?" etc.
Oh, well. And to be honest, given the comments that actually appeared on the webpage of the Journal, I'd be surprised if they were actually peer-reviewed at all (as claimed by the editors).
Despite the premises, I tried to develop an informed opinion, to answer the questions of friends and family who read about the news everywhere on the web. After reading about it here, here, here and here, I am tempted to say that the claim is far from robust, and, to say the least, it should be taken with a huge grain of salt.