December 13, 2011
You’ve no doubt already seen or heard mention of this breaking news elsewhere, but I simply must weigh-in: This morning physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced that they are making significant progress toward discovering the Higgs boson, or what many tend to call “the God Particle.” They really are on the verge of making a discovery that will change the face of physics forever, and vastly improve our understanding of the building blocks of EVERYTHING in the universe, and how the universe came into existence. The announcement does not mean that they have found the Higgs, just that they’ve seen a series of spikes in activity (the few nanoseconds right after a particle collision) within the predicted mass range for the Higgs. They’ve narrowed its mass down to a pretty small range with a fairly high degree of certainty because they’ve amassed quite a bit of data, and the chances that this is just a statistical fluke are getting lower and lower. Still though, the certainty is not high enough for physicists to claim an actual discovery. This elusive Higgs boson is the last missing “link” in the most widely accepted theory of particle physics- The Standard Model. If the Higgs is finally confirmed to exist within the range of mass predicted by the Standard Model, then this theory will essentially become rock-solid.
*Steps onto soapbox.*
But the beauty of science and the scientific method is that it will be just as exciting, if not MORE exciting, if the Higgs is proven to either exist outside the predicted range of mass or not exist at all! Science relies strictly on data, and if the data shows something not predicted then you go back to the drawing board and keep trying until you have a theory that fits the reality of the data. That method is infallible, and that is why I love science.
*Steps down from soapbox.*
the Guardian has been posting live updates to their story.
But BBC News has the best coverage I’ve seen.
This has been popping up in a few places around the interwebs for a couple days now, and I should’ve posted about it earlier, but I’ve fallen victim t0 post-SXSW sickness and laziness. A team of physicists have discovered a brand new subatomic particle, which they’re calling “Y(4140).” Ironically this particle was not discovered at the Large Hadron Collider, which is still not operational due to repairs from the catastrophic helium leak last fall; it was discovered at Fermilab, right here in the USA. This new information will be valuable in future mathematical models of the universe, as well as in the experiments conducted at the LHC later this year. You’d think they could come up with a cooler name for a completely new type of subatomic particle… something like “megaquark” or “quarktron.” Lazerquark…
The space shuttle undocked from the ISS yesterday and did a fly-around, capturing the first images of the fully symmetrical, full-length ISS. Universe Today has the space porn, including video of part of the fly-around.
According to Space.com, NASA has decided to go ahead with the Hubble repair mission, despite the increased risk of debris impact due to the satellite collision on Feb. 10th. I’m glad, but kinda scared for the crew. The danger is heightened by the fact that they won’t have the ISS as a lifeboat. Instead, NASA will have Space Shuttle Endeavour on a different pad, ready to launch and be used as a lifeboat should Atlantis be damaged.
Several different time-lapse videos of plants growing. These things are always fun to watch. Via kottke.org.
This has been showing up on almost every blog I read, but it’s definitely worth posting- the first trailers for the Spike Jonze-directed, Arcade Fire-loaded, live-action version of Where the Wild Things Are has been posted. The best place to view it is on apple.com. They have gorgeous HD versions that are true eye candy.
I was quite pleased yesterday to find out that Camera Obscura will be kicking off their north American tour in Nashville at the Mercy Lounge on May 27th. To my knowledge, they have never played here, and they’re one of my favorites. Even though I just saw them at SXSW, I will be there enthusiastically. Their new album My Maudlin Career drops April 20th via 4AD. Check out the rest of their tour dates at their myspace.
Another upcoming show I’m looking forward to is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart @ the End on May 2nd. Like C.O., I saw this band at SXSW and they did not dissappoint. But I really look forward to seeing full length sets from both bands, as all the shows at SXSW are showcases with 5 or so bands, thus each band has less time to setup and a shorter set length than normal. POBPAH are definitely one of those “blog-buzz” bands, but I honestly think they will have more staying power and are on an entirely different level than say, Vampire Weekend or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.