public talks and appearances
Gizmodo Presents: Dark Matter! On 23 October 2017 Gizmodo hosted a panel about dark matter at their studios in New York, featuring me and two of my colleagues, Elena Aprile (founder of the XENON Dark Matter Project and professor at Columbia) and Priya Natarajan (eminent astrophysicist at Yale), moderated by Ryan F. Mandelbaum, science writer at Gizmodo, and live-streamed via social media. The event was held in conjunction with Dark Matter Day, and, even though we went much longer than we'd planned, it still seemed too short. Tons of great questions. We'd probably need a ten-part series to cover all the bases. Thanks to our fantastic Gizmodo hosts!
I was invited by producer Ahmed Razek to speak at BBC MediaCityUK (at the BBC Blue Room), in Manchester, on 25 September 2017, about artificial intelligence and machine learning at CERN, with a talk called, "Patterns in the fuzz: Big data, machine learning & artificial intelligence at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN". This is an acutely fascinating topic -- especially in the context of big, open media like that at the BBC vs. big, open science like that at CERN -- and we could have talked for hours. It was great to bounce around ideas with other data scientists like Magda Piatkowska and R&D people like Rosie Campbell.
I was invited to Brain Bar Budapest, which took place in June of 2017, and where I gave a talk titled, "Will We Ever Travel Through Time?". I also had a public debate with Bishop István Bogárdi Szabó, of the Reformed Church in Hungary, about the roles of science and theistic belief systems in modern society. It was a fantastic event filled with insatiably curious people and consistently insightful conversations. The organizers also knew how to properly inspire, since I'd not given a talk about time travel before, and it was a welcome challenge to fit humanity's fascination with time travel into a broader discussion about the physics of time and boundary-pushing research, both now, like that we do at the LHC, and in the future.
On 15 May 2017 I was a guest on BLACKOUT, Samantha Scarlette's show on Idobi Radio, where we talked about black holes, Higgs physics, antimatter, and speculated as to how some of the wild conspiracy theories about CERN arise. Samantha and Eddie were great hosts, eager to know more about the physics and about sorting fact from fiction at the LHC. Spoiler: The real research we do here at CERN is *far* more interesting than any of the conspiracy theories.
A small group of grassroots organizers here in Geneva, Switzerland -- encompassing both scientists and non-specialist members of the local community -- held the March for Science, Geneva, on 22 April 2017, and I was honored to have been a member of the organizing committee. I was consistently impressed with our team, since we managed to arrange the march in our spare time, without a hierarchical organizing structure, and to successfully meet our two main goals: 1) To march in solidarity with the hundreds of marches around the world that day to affirm that robust funding of scientific research is an essential component of a healthy, open, free society and 2) to hold up the Geneva region and Switzerland in general as shining examples of strong support of open, inclusive science for the public good. We also had more than twice as many attendees as we'd expected, including prominent scientists from around the region.
Our Geneva march was, as far as we know, the only one in Switzerland and was covered extensively in the press, including images from our march that appeared in news stories around the world.
I also had the honor of giving a speech on behalf of the organizing committee at the pre-march rally. The text and a video are here.
I was very pleased to join Heather Wade for Midnight in the Desert, a live late night talk radio show (and the successor to the venerable Art Bell Show) on the rather appropriately titled Dark Matter Digital Network, on 17 April 2017. It looks like one needs a subscription to listen online, but we talked about a large range of topics related to the LHC and CERN, sorting science fact from science fiction in boundary-pushing research.
I was at Technoport 2017, in Trondheim, Norway, in March of 2017, where I gave a presentation and appeared on a panel discussion titled, "Destination Dystopia?"
I gave a presentation at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York, on 6 February 2017, called, "Gravitons, Exotic Higgs Bosons, or Nothing at All: The Large Hadron Collider’s First Year at 13 TeV", as part of their Frontiers Lectures series.
My TEDxBerlin talk, "How we explore unanswered questions in physics", was featured on TED.com on 22 December 2016.
I've been honored and humbled by the great public response to the work of my colleagues and I, and for such excellent enthusiasm for what big, boundary-pushing, open, multicultural, inclusive science can do on the global stage. Stay curious.
I wrote an article for Scientific American blogs called, "The Higgs Boson versus Donald Trump", on 14 November 2016, about the fundamental incompatibility of bigotry and authoritarianism with the greatest achievements of international, multicultural, big science for humanity.
I spoke at the Institute of Physics, in London, on 2 November 2016, with a talk called, "Gravitons, Exotic Higgs Bosons, or Nothing at All: The Large Hadron Collider's First Year at 13 TeV".
I gave a talk titled, "The Large Hadron Collider and the beginning of physics", at TEDxBerlin on 4 September 2016 and at TEDxArendal, in Norway, on 10 September 2016. It's about my personal experience with the X750 diphoton resonance search in 2015 and 2016 and how the huge attention paid toward it fits into the larger context of what we do as physicists at CERN and scientists in general.
I was invited to appear at Klangfestival 2016 at Klangfolger, Gallneukirchen, Austria, 19 August 2016, where I gave a talk called, "Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe with the Big Bang Machine", and where I may or may not have performed some of my private sonifications of ATLAS LHC collision data with the improv noise band The Spacefollowers, as well.
I was on NPR's Science Friday on 12 August 2016 discussing the results from the LHC's first year at 13 TeV (including the diphoton bump) and the IceCube sterile neutrino exclusion with neutrino hunter extraordinaire Janet Conrad.
On 15 December 2015, ATLAS and CMS held a big seminar here at CERN where we reported on our first-year-at-13-TeV results. Both experiments saw a slight excess in the diphoton mass spectrum at approximately the same place, around 750 GeV. This excess was not very statistically significant. But hundreds of theory papers were written about it quite rapidly.
I chatted about it with some news outlets:
I gave a talk about the maybe-new-particle cliffhanger, this X750 diphoton excess, at the Science Museum in London, as part of their Lates program, on 25 May 2016, called "A Revolutionary New Particle at the Big Bang Machine?".
I wrote an explainer:
And then, as modest, 2σ excesses have been known to do, the little diphoton bumplet turned into a smooth line after we took five times more data, as we reported at the ICHEP conference in Chicago in August, 2016. It was an exciting time, and many people seemed to be disappointed in the result, but this was actually a stellar triumph for science itself. Data speak for themselves. And this is just the beginning of the LHC's quest for new particles at 13 TeV. I wrote another explainer about it.
I discussed the diphoton search in the New York Times...
...and participated in a BBC Horizon special about the entire process called Inside CERN.
I participated in a Twitter chat with CNN Tech, about "The secret to making a scientific discovery", on 25 May 2016.
As part of Symmetry Magazine's "Ask Symmetry" series I answered the question "If atoms are mostly empty space, then why does anything feel solid?".
Can the Higgs boson possibly decay to dark matter? Well, can it?
WIRED's Joshua Batson wrote an article, published 23 January 2015, called, "How Three Guys With $10K and Decades-Old Data Almost Found the Higgs Boson First", about our 2009 project looking for ways the Higgs boson could have been hiding in LEP data.