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Dec 10 2011

This week in science!

This week rumors swirled that … something … was found in the LHC data. There’s plenty of inside baseball players saying it’s likely to be tentative evidence that the search for the Higgs Boson is nearing a phase transition. So, what is the Higgs Boson you ask? The LHC rap above with intro by MC Hawking does a decent job of reviewing the basics; I wish could explain the Higgs in one graf. Because it’s only the most important particle in science right now, and — depending on its properties or its very existence — could even help illuminate the elusive bridge between two great fields of physics that explain our universe from quark to quasar, but don’t play well together at all: General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. But that’s a post for another day. For now, Cosmic Variance does an admirable job of summing up the science of detection, and this link explains the Higgs by gentle analogy for the non atom-smashing pro.

  • Anti-science marches on! This week Jon Huntsman ran with the banner, making a play for the critical for the know-nothing vote by backpeddling away on human induced climate change with a subtle dog-whistle shout-out to the climate conspiracy clowns. Meanwhile, climate talks are at a virtual standstill without strong US leadership and cooperation from India and China.
  • If somehow you missed it, Kepler bags a low mass, possibly earth-like planet circling in the habitable zone of a twin sun-like star. The Bad Astronomer has some great science insights on Kepler’s first big find, and this planet could the first of many with terrestrial potential we discover over the next several years.
  • The Mars Science Lab is on its way to Mars, where the Opportunity rover has found lead-pipe cinch evidence for flowing water. There’s a sense the decade of the naughts could see the universe give up some long-held secrets, near and far, at every level.
  • The lunar eclipse has begun: beautiful images abound, and for those of you in Eastern and Central Standard Time, where the moon is being drowned out by a rising sun, Cosmic Log and Wired Mag both offer great online viewing.

3 comments

  1. 1
    TX_secular

    We can only hope that the anti-science viewpoint will collapse if enough evidence against it piles on, and on, and on….

    Maybe I’m too optimistic, but anti-science views have only had 400 + years of consistent evidence against them and the scientific method of knowing, and the resulting evidence, seems to be up against some deep, evolutionary hardwiring for self-serving beliefs.

  2. 2
    ogremk5

    Anti-anti-science begins with proper education. The majority of the anti-science crowd doesn’t even understand how their views (for example, that radioactive dating is wrong because the decay rates could have changed) would have massive implications for everything else in the universe (decay rate is governed by the weak nuclear force, which also is used in star formation).

    We have to not only educate these people (well, their children) and hope we can get through, but continually remind them that every single tool, product and benefit of our society is a direct result of science… not anti-science.

  3. 3
    RW Ahrens

    Pardon me, but we are no longer in the “decade of the naughts”.

    It’s now the teens – 2011. Technically the second year of that decade, numerically, but as the inventor of our calendar didn’t know enough about math to understand the concept of the Zero, one can argue that it is the first.

    But either way, we’ve left the first decade of the 21st century behind. It’s history, already!

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