17 July 2012

science geek-out

Maybe it's the influence of Comic Con, or maybe it's just too hot outside to think straight, but I'm a geek and proud of it. Along those lines, there's been some really exciting and interesting announcements in the world of physics in the past year. The Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus (OPERA) Project in Italy announced they'd measured neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. If true, this would have been beyond shocking. Of course, this was disproved when they turned out to have systematic errors... But it's still good story fodder. :)

Lately, a discovery that appears to be true is the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). I studied the Higgs Boson while I was young and impressionable. What you need to know is bosons are the particles that mediate or carry forces. To use an example you might have heard of, photons are the bosons of the electromagnetic force field. In other words, photons carry electromagnetism. So, the Higgs Boson works like this: it mediates or carries a force, namely, the Higgs field. The Higgs field is basically the field that gives particles mass. Cool! Again, there are a lot of story possibilities here.

Recently, I found a neat blog that discusses such topics: Quantum Diaries: Thoughts on work and life from particle physicists from around the world. This site is (mostly) comprehensible to normal folks. They have a ton of stuff on the Higgs Boson and what the big deal is. I particularly liked the post from last week on Dark matter: No model, just guesses. Enjoy!

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