Apologies for the late update. Last night I was too tired (or tipsy, your guess) to blog.
Wednesday was the customary short day; there were plenary talks in the morning and excursions in the afternoon. Having already had a look at the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef in better weather before the conference, I decided to go to the zoo. In case that sounds kind of boring, let me tell you that the Cairns Tropical Zoo hosts some rather impressive animals; the saltwater crocodiles in particular are scarily big (one of them was known to eat cattle before he got captured), and the many birds and lizards are just very different from anything on the Northern hemisphere (and there were koalas and kangaroos, too).
Thursday started with another experimental talk, presented by Justine Serrano of LHCb, who spoke about the many flavour physics observations made by that collaboration. Highlights included pushing the bounds for the branching ratio Bs->μμ very close to the Standard Model prediction (this is an observable for which most of the uncertainty actually comes from lattice QCD predictions of fBs) as well as observing the decay B->πμμ for the first time (this is the rarest B decay ever observed). New measurements of φs from Bs->J/ψφ and Bs->J/ψππ are compatible with zero, and the parameter space for many new physics models has already now been tightly constrained by LHCb. There is some tension in the (poorly known) UT angle γ and in the isospin asymmetry in B->Kμμ and K->K*μμ, but the latter discrepancy seems most likely to be a fluctuation that will go away with more data. LHCb has also made the most precise measurements of B spectroscopy so far. With an upgrade intended to improve the acquisition rate to 10-20 times ahead, LHCb will certainly continue to impress in the future.
The next speaker was Cecilia Tarantino talking about the theoretical side of flavour physics. Here one of the most pressing issues is the inclusive-exclusive discrepancy in Vub and Vcb, where in each case the inclusive and exclusive measurements differ by more than 2σ. A unitarity triangle analysis favours the exclusive value for Vub and the inclusive value for Vcb; in each case more precise lattice input for the exclusive determination is needed along with more experimental data for the inclusive one. Another tension that arises in the UT fit is coming from the branching ratio BR(B->τν); this cannot be explained in the 2-doublet Higgs model of type II, but more elaborate 2-doublet Higgs models might still explain it. Since D mixing is now entering the stage, we might become sensitive to different potential new physics, since the charm is an up-type quark; the fDs puzzle, on the other hand, has now been resolved: the lattice values went up and the experiments came down.
The second plenary opened with a talk by Huey-Wen Lin on hadron structure from the lattice, where there are a number of open puzzles, some of most pressing ones of which are the nucleon charge radii and the axial charge of the nucleon. It is likely that many systematic effects contribute here, including excited states effects, which can be overcome by using the summation method or by explicitly including excited states in fits.
This was followed by a talk by Ross Young about nucleon strangeness measurements and their impact on dark matter searches. The theoretical uncertainties of dark matter searches are dominated by the uncertainties of the nucleon sigma terms, in particular the strange sigma term. These can analysed both directly from an analysis of nucleon three-point functions, or indirectly via the Feynman-Hellmann theorem. Modern estimates of the nucleon strangeness (and their errors) are much lower than those of ten years ago, and lattice QCD can contribute significantly to reducing the uncertainties of searches for the stuff than makes up one quarter of the Universe, but of which so far we somewhat embarrassingly no idea what it actually is.
The last plenary talk of the morning was given by Walter Freeman, who spoke about determining electromagnetic sea effects on hadron polarisabilities by reweighting. He compared various approaches to reducing the noise of stochatic estimators for reweighting factors, finding that neither projecting out the low modes nor introducing intermediate reweighting steps helped for this case, but that looking at derivatives of the reweighting factors instead and performing a hopping parameter expansion did help.
In the afternoon there were parallel sessions. Mainz graduate student Vera Gülpers gave a very nice talk on measuring the scalar form factor of the pion. My own talk was just an update on the ongoing radiative improvement of NRQCD, so actually not terribly exciting.
In the evening there was the conference banquet, which was very good; however, the waiting staff took the slightly strange decision to serve the chicken or vegetarian entree and the meat or fish main course to people based on whether they were seated on even or odd seats (I have no idea whether this might be an Australian custom, though).