Nov 16

Nerdnite recap: When the brainbow met the boson

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Any day now, the Japanese government will either make physicists worldwide very happy or very sad. They are expecting an announcement on whether the International Linear Collider (ILC), a next-generation particle accelerator that has been planned for decades, has the green light to be built in Japan. You know the Large Hadron Collider, the behemoth that found the Higgs boson? The ILC would be like that but on steroids. It would accelerate sub-atomic particles to even higher speeds in a 20-kilometer long tunnel and smash them together to produce about one Higgs particle per hour. And there are many unexplored questions, according to physicist and ILC supporter Daniel Jeans, including: possible Higgs interactions with dark matter; turning anti-matter into matter; and whether or not the Higgs boson spins in other dimensions! The ILC has the Hello Kitty seal of approval, so now it’s up to the politicians.

The Higgs boson may be elusive and hard to study, but so is the brain! Also at Nerd Nite Tokyo in November, Thomas Chater of the RIKEN Center for Brain Science focused on the biotechnology that brings light and color to the otherwise pudding-like, transparent or greyish brain. In the past 150 years or so, neuroscientists have progressed in their methods for figuring out how neurons communicate with each other. Now, instead of stabbing dead cells with giant glass needles to get some readout, cells (or parts of cells) can be genetically engineered to flash in different rainbow shades when they are active. Considering there are something like 100 trillion synapses (connections between neurons) in your head, that’s a lot of flashing. That’s why scientists use smaller brains, like those of zebrafish larvae, to make sense of of it all.

As for the proof that infinity is equal to -1/12, well, you’ll just have to watch the energetic exposition by RIKEN’s Ade Irma SuriajayaThe ILC talk starts here, the brain talk starts here, and the talk on zeta functions and the mathematics of infinity starts here! (or watch in the embedded videos below)

nerd Nite tokyo logoNerd Nite Tokyo is a series of monthly science talks in a bar. More information at tokyo.nerdnite.com.

Any day now, the Japanese government will either make physicists worldwide very happy or very sad. They are expecting an announcement on whether the International Linear Collider (ILC), a next-generation particle accelerator that has been planned for decades, has the green light to be built in Japan. You know the Large Hadron Collider, the behemoth that found the Higgs boson? The ILC would be like that but on steroids. It would accelerate sub-atomic particles to even higher speeds in a 20-kilometer long tunnel and smash them together to produce about one Higgs particle per hour. And there are many unexplored questions, according to physicist and ILC supporter Daniel Jeans, including: possible Higgs interactions with dark matter; turning anti-matter into matter; and whether or not the Higgs boson spins in other dimensions! The ILC has the Hello Kitty seal of approval, so now it’s up to the politicians.

The Higgs boson may be elusive and hard to study, but so is the brain! Also at Nerd Nite Tokyo in November, Thomas Chater of the RIKEN Center for Brain Science focused on the biotechnology that brings light and color to the otherwise pudding-like, transparent or greyish brain. In the past 150 years or so, neuroscientists have progressed in their methods for figuring out how neurons communicate with each other. Now, instead of stabbing dead cells with giant glass needles to get some readout, cells (or parts of cells) can be genetically engineered to flash in different rainbow shades when they are active. Considering there are something like 100 trillion synapses (connections between neurons) in your head, that’s a lot of flashing. That’s why scientists use smaller brains, like those of zebrafish larvae, to make sense of of it all.

As for the proof that infinity is equal to -1/12, well, you’ll just have to watch the energetic exposition by RIKEN’s Ade Irma SuriajayaThe ILC talk starts here, the brain talk starts here, and the talk on zeta functions and the mathematics of infinity starts here! (or watch in the embedded videos below)

nerd Nite tokyo logoNerd Nite Tokyo is a series of monthly science talks in a bar. More information at tokyo.nerdnite.com.

Nerd Nite Tokyo #27. ILC talk. 

Nerd Nite Tokyo #27. Brain talk. 

Nerd Nite Tokyo #27. Talk on zeta functions and the mathematics of infinity. 

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