Physics

What’s a Higgs Boson, What’s Being Announced Tomorrow, and What’s Next | 80beats

July 4th is the big day! And not only because of fireworks. It’s the day of a press conference at which it is widely anticipated that CERN (the giant European particle physics laboratory) will announce that the Higgs boson—that much-touted particle needed to make the Standard Model of Physics complete—has been found at the Large Hadron Collider. Or at least, that something that looks very much like it has been observed.

Live-Blogging the Higgs Seminar | Cosmic Variance

A couple of us are going to try to live-blog the July 4 Higgs update seminars from CERN. This effort will be subject to the whims of internet connectivity, of course, but we’ll do our best.

Final Word from the Tevatron on the Higgs Hunt | Cosmic Variance

Last September 30, at 3:00 in the afternoon, after a quarter century of operations, the Tevatron collider at Fermilab collided its final proton and antiproton. Since then, physicists from the two big Tevatron experiments CDF and D0 have been analyzing the complete data set, totaling 10 inverse femtobarns, squeezing every last bit of statistical significance in the search for the Higgs boson.

Hunting for Higgses | Cosmic Variance

Update: There’s a slightly expanded version of this post on the NOVA website, where I fill in some background on what the Higgs is and why we care.

How to Make Anything Disappear

Back in 2006 Harry Potter was all the rage in the engineering world. That year a team at Duke University built the first rudimentary device for hiding objects, akin to the boy wizard’s invisibility cloak. But in technology as in the movies, Harry Potter is now old news. Over the past six years, scientists have moved beyond mere invisibility: If they could build cloaks for light waves, then why not design materials to conceal sound and even ocean waves?

Impatient Futurist: High-Tech Soaps Just Might Clean Up the Planet

Between freak Arctic melting, Japanese nuclear melting, and antibiotic resistance popping up everywhere, I can’t help but see the world as tiptoeing into pre-apocalypse.

Put Down the Gun: Bank Robberies Just Ain’t Worth It | Discoblog

If only the James brothers had studied econometrics,
they would have realized that crime doesn’t pay.
Pondering a bank-robbing life of crime? Don’t start building the pool for swimming through your piles of money quite yet: Economists say that in a single raid in the United Kingdom, a robber doesn’t even earn enough to purchase a new car, while each theft increases his odds of being captured.

FBI Releases Feynman Files | 80beats

More than just a brilliant physicist, Richard Feynman was also a larger-than-life character whose enthusiasm, boundless curiosity, and mischievous sense of humor made him a dynamic lecturer and memoirist, as well as leading him to pick locks and crack safes for fun.

The Solar System's Lost Planet

Four and a half billion years ago, the place we now call the solar system was a vast cloud of gas and dust enshrouding a newborn star. Gradually those dust grains cohered and formed pebbles, which then collided and coalesced into boulders. Over the course of about 100 million years, most of the material in that nebulous cloud accreted into the existing eight planets—four rocky (including Earth) and four gaseous. Or at least that’s how astronomers thought the story went.

How Math Can Help Save a Dying Language

Though the truism about Inuits having a hundred words for snow is an exaggeration—they have a few dozen, at most—languages really are full of charming quirks that reveal the character of a culture. Dialects of Scottish Gaelic, for instance, traditionally spoken in the Highlands and, later on, in fishing villages, have a great many very specific words for seaweed, as well as names for each of the components of a rabbit snare and a word for an egg that emerges from a hen sans shell.

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