I got to join in on a great conversation this morning on Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit", all about the Higgs Boson and what it means for the future of physics.
This is a fascinating issue. Finding the Higgs Boson (if that is, indeed, what scientists have done) means that all the particles predicted by the Standard Model of physics have now been found. But that's not necessarily good news for physicists. For one thing, it would have been a lot more interesting to break the Standard Model than to uphold it. For another, we're now left with a model for the Universe that mostly works but still has some awkward holes — holes that it might be hard to get the funding to fill.
Daily Circuit host Kerry Miller, Harvard physics chair Melissa Franklin, and I spent 45 minutes talking about what is simultaneously a beautiful dream and a waking nightmare for the physics world. And I got to make a "Half Baked" reference in a conversation about particle physics, so you know it's a good time, too.
Listen to the whole conversation at Minnesota Public Radio's website.
Typography enthusiasts "moved by Dr Fabiola Gianotti's incredibly strange choice of font in announcing the recent results of Cern's ATLAS collaboration" are petitioning Microsoft to rename Comic Sans to "Comic Cerns." Cosmic Sans might work, too!
On the day we reserve to tell ourselves America is great - July 4 - Europe reminds us that we suck at science. #HiggsBoson— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 4, 2012
Big science news today: Scientists at Europe's CERN research center have discovered a new subatomic particle believed to be a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the "boson" imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs. And Stephen Hawking loses a $100 bet. Many of us on Twitter know that we should be excited by all of this, but have no idea what it really means, having dope-smoked our way through Physics class in high school. This animation helps. Still: If you can't join 'em, LOL at 'em. Here are some of the better #higgsjokes I faved on Twitter after the news broke. Did I miss any good ones? Let me know in the comments. And read Maggie's post.
Whoa whoa whoa! We’re cross-breeding hogs and bison now? Thanks a lot Obamacare!— ed casey (@edcasey) July 4, 2012
Update from CERN:It turns out the thing they found in the Large Haldron Collider was just a GIF.— Dave Pell (@davepell) July 4, 2012
Buttons glow in the control room of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva on April 5, 2012. At 0:38 CEST this morning, the LHC shift crew declared "stable beams" as two 4 TeV proton beams were brought into collision at the LHC's four interaction points. The collision energy of 8 TeV is a new world record, and increases the machine's potential to solve perplexing scientific questions. Top of the list: confirming the existence of the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle posited to explain why matter has mass. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Last week, while I was on a train, researchers at CERN announced that neutrinos are probably not traveling faster than the speed of light. Last year, as you'll recall, the OPERA experiment clocked the neutrinos breaking that speed limit. Unfortunately, it looks like those measurements were probably caused by one or more problems with the GPS system used to synchronize clocks between the neutrinos' point of origin and where they were speeding off to.
That's disappointing news. To make up for it, I offer you this art chaser—a gallery of beautiful quilts inspired by CERN's Large Hadron Collider.
The quilts are the work of artist Kate Findlay, and they're completely amazing. The one pictured here is called "Inner Eye." It's based on ATLAS, one of the major detectors built to encircle the Large Hadron Collider and collect information on what's going on inside it. Comparing the photo with the quilt makes both images doubly awesome.
Via Alexandra Witze
"They said when the collider goes on
Soon they'd see that elusive boson
Very soon we shall hear
Whether Cern finds it this year
But it's something I won't bet very much on."
— Shelly Glashow, Boston University. Nobel prize in physics, 1979
From a collection of physicists' statements on the Higgs boson in The Guardian. (Via Ed Yong)