Senior faculty: should one stay or should one go… August 18, 2010Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
This post is motivated by the fact that one of our senior faculty (a Full Professor) would be leaving this Fall to take another senior faculty job at another University. So, the questions that I want to ramble about are (1) why would one want to leave? and (2) if one does decide to leave, how easy is it to get another tenured job?
1. Well, the question numbero uno has a simple answer: there is something at the current place the person does not like. Examples could include academic environment (University is not prestigious enough, colleagues that are perceived to be unfriendly, perceived quality of students, etc.), physical environment (tired to live in a city/country, etc.), salary (in most cases, too low), or spouse’s employment. I think most of the reasons can be reduced to those four. Or a linear combination of those four. And th0se reasons could be quite opposite: one wants to be in a big group, while another moves to organize a group — which in many cases would be smaller…
2. The second question also has a simple answer: it is not easy, unless you are a Nobel Prize winner (or Edward Witten). Or simply very good. And that’s where the question becomes hard: what does it mean to be “very good”??? To be successful at writing influential papers? securing grants (and/or having those NSF/DOE CAREER awards)? having a lot of awards? teaching and graduating good students? being on TV all the time? playing hockey?
This is a good question — and quite a relevant one, since (as part of a major theory expansion) we’ll be hiring a particle theory assistant professor this year and it would be nice to hire someone who is “very good.” Although, admittedly, assistant professors are often judged “on potential,” and if the potential is not realized, a young assistant professor would not become an associate professor… This is one of the reasons while the Departments often prefer to hire nontenured Assistant Professors over tenured Associate and Full ones. That and the salary.
So, one of the possible criteria for a senior faculty that I would like to propose is a publication record — number of publications and citations to them (or/and an h-index for an applicant) compared to the same of the current members of a given research group that is doing the hire. In particular, if the h-index of a candidate is higher than that of the current members of the group, the person is good. Admittedly, it would not work for a junior faculty (well, if it does, the hiring group should get that person right away), but might be ok for a senior hire. Second criteria could be the record of securing external grants — the reality of life at most of research Universities is that the person should fund his/her own research… Moreover, while for an assistant professor getting the first grant is hard, it also serves as an opportunity to see what your peers in the field think about your research. So it is not all about the money — or the amount of it for that matter. A good record of graduating PhDs and having leadership positions (for an experimentalists in big collaborations) should round up the list. Did I miss anything?
Is there a recipe/a set of criteria? Probably not. But it would be interesting to know…
Congratulations, Dr. Andriy Badin! August 2, 2010Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
Today my second graduate student at WSU, Andriy Badin, defended his Ph.D. thesis. Congratulations Dr. Badin! Good luck to you in your new life as a postdoc at Duke University!
ICHEP-2010 vs hints of New Physics July 21, 2010Posted by apetrov in Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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Once of the major meetings in particle physics, the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP 2010) gets underway today in Paris. This is a conference that happens every two years and usually brings together hundreds of physicists from all over the world. Usually this is the place where large and small collaborations present their recent findings and most exciting results. Although first LHC results will be presented there, LHC still does not have enough statistics to do the analysis that it was built to do. And this is why Tevatron and other machines try to beat it to the (possible) discovery of whatever might happen beyond the embattled Standard Model.
So far, there are several hints of something new. As with hints reported previously, most of them will disappear with more experimental statistics – or with improved analyses. But who knows… maybe some of them will stay. It would be interesting to see if some of those hints are dispelled at this year’s ICHEP.
What are those hints, you’d ask? Well, here are some of them, in no particular order,
1. D0 semileptonic CP-asymmetry (aka “the toe of God” as New York Times has reported). An interesting, although somewhat strange result from D0 collaboration at Fermilab spurred a small waterfall of papers trying to explain it (here is the combination of older CDF and newer D0 results). If it happens to be true, we indeed would see a manifestation of New Physics in Bs oscillations. A cute thing about the above-mentioned article in New York Times is that they interviewed theorists who do not work on CP-violation in heavy quark physics…
2. MINOS mass differences measured for for neutrinos and antineutrinos (CPT-violation, anyone?). The neutrino mass differences and antineutrino mass differences measured by MINOS collaboration, showed quite a difference (see blue and red contours on this picture). Now, of course, contours overlap — and, statistically speaking, there is probability that those mixing parameters are the same. But it is a nice hint for something interesting. Now, I must say that the fact that neutrinos oscillate (and have mass) IS the biggest (and proven) hint for physics beyond the Standard Model.
3. CDF’s unexpectedly large forward-backward asymmetry in top-quark pair production. This is an interesting problem — while in QCD one expects top quark production angle to be symmetric with respect to beam direction at the lowest order, one can get a small, forward backward asymmetry (the quantity that compares the number of top quarks moving for or against a given direction) at next-to-leading order. This asymmetry is predicted to be of the order of 5%, while CDF sees something of the order of 19% with very good error bars. To make the situation more interesting, top quark production cross section is consistent with theory. Axigluon, anyone? Maybe not…
4. Abundant Dark Matter search “anomalies”, in particular, the seasonal variation of a signal measured by DAMA collaboration. Some “older news” also include CDMS “two-event” result, PAMELA positron flux excess, etc…
Anyone’s taking bets?
P.S. I refuse to include Higgs discovery rumors in the list of possible hints, especially since they are reported by BBC and CNN (and properly dispelled by CDF and D0)!
OPERA sees appearance of tau neutrino… June 1, 2010Posted by apetrov in Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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…but for some reason I cannot see the appearance of a preprint showing heir results… Contrary to the recent D0 claim of New Physics in Bs mixing, I can find plenty of press releases (say, here, here and even here), but no formal paper! There is a cool video that is available from CERN that makes the discussion of this experiment here quite pointless, so if you’d like to learn about that and the revival (ok, last twitches) of the old good emulsion technology, please take some time and view it! At least while I’m searching for a preprint…
Florence, Florence… March 26, 2010Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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I’m finishing up my 2.5-week stay in Florence at the Galileo Galilei Institute of Theoretical Physics
(or just GGI). Florence is a nice place to visit, so many people find it hard to not to go into the city to see Uffizi Gallery (if you can get in), Duomo — or sit in your office and calculate. Of course, famous Tuscan cuisine does not help. I managed to spent the weekends taking in the cultural heritage of the city and weekdays – taking in the latest in flavor physics.
I’ll blog more about physics and culture of Florence once I get back to Michigan over the weekend. But for now, let me point you to the final conference of this extended workshop that just ended: http://ggi-www.fi.infn.it//index.php?p=schedule.inc&idev=63
It is back! November 21, 2009Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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After a year of repairs LHC has circulated the beam once again. The first collisions are to follow soon – about a week from now.
It happened. We are eagerly awaiting the answer of the Higgs From the Future .
Collider music November 10, 2009Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Particle Physics.
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The Internet is “like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get.” Apparently, colliders inspire songwriters of different styles: from educational rap to 60-style love songs… Enjoy…
Ginzburg November 9, 2009Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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One of the most famous Russian physicists, 2003 Nobel Prize winner Vitaly L. Ginzburg died yesterday in Moscow. He was 94. He received his Nobel Prize “for pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids” (e.g. Landau-Ginzburg theory is taught in any statistical mechanics class). He was a truly universal physicist — with over 400 works in physics, radio-physics and astrophysics. He will be greatly missed.
LHC to start with 3.5 TeV beams August 6, 2009Posted by apetrov in Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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It looks like things at LHC are progressing quite fast. Last week, at DPF-2009, we heard a talk from Lyn Evans that LHC will start in November with energies “as close as possible to, but not above 5TeV” per beam. Now, Interactions.org reported that the start-up energy would be 3.5 TeV per beam. I’m curious how many physics projections will need to be updated for this first lower-energy scenario. And when LHC will ramp up to full 7 TeV x 7 TeV design energy…
DPF-2009 is underway! July 28, 2009Posted by apetrov in Particle Physics, Physics, Science.
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The DPF-2009 conference started yesterday at Wayne State University in Detroit. This particular conference is close to my heart because I’m a chair of the Organizing Committee. And because of that I will not be able to report on my impressions of that conference — for one, I’m very much biased. Oh, and I’m also a bit busy with making sure that it runs smoothly.
So, we have a very nice program with a variety of talks — it started with the LHC machine status talk by Lyn Evans from CERN and will end on Friday with a talk by the Fermilab Director Pier Oddone. Please check our DPF-2009 website for the program of plenary and parallel sessions and other things (note that all of the talks are there thanks to the Indico system)! And for those readers, who are present at this conference — please do write about your impressions.