Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Good News from Australia

I think that far too often when I write a blog post on my current country of residence, it ends up being negative.  So I want to bring attention to some good news from New South Wales, where a person has won the right to be identified as neither male nor female:
The Australian high court has ruled that New South Wales must recognise a third gender after handing down its decision in the long-running case of Norrie, who has been fighting since 2010 to have a sex change recognised as non-specific.
Notable is the following argument apparently used in court, suggesting that bureaucrats can't count past two:
Among the arguments of the registrar was that it would cause “unacceptable confusion” if state legislation, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW), were to recognise more than two genders. The high court rejected the argument.
More seriously, congratulations are due to Norrie, for successfully winning this four-year legal struggle (and winning costs, too)!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Higgs Inflation Flexes its BICEPs

A couple of weeks ago we had the BICEP2 announcement, a new and exciting physics result that was perfectly timed with my parents visiting.  As such I rather missed my chance to comment at the time, and with inflation being somewhat beyond my area of expertise I wasn't sure I really had much to say that was better than, for example, Resonaances.

However, one thing that did strike me from that post was the following line:
Speaking about model building, Higgs inflation is ruled out, at least in the current version. A robust prediction of Higgs inflation is no tensor modes at an observable level. In other words, we have a new evidence for new physics beyond the Standard Model. 
If I've learnt anything in my time as a postdoc, it's that whenever you make this kind of statement it's just a matter of time before someone argues that it's not true.  In this case, it took a week.