CERN Collides Particles in the LHC: World Doesn't End

CERN logoCERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, just succeeded in colliding particles in the Large Hadron Collider after years of pigeons, baguettes and other interesting service disruptions — and hey, would you look at that, we’re all still here.

I’ll regret writing that when I get jumped by headcrabs and vortigaunts in the morning.

See the official press release and the event’s live commentary. To the Higgs Boson!


Neil deGrasse Tyson and Pluto

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Pluto

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a look at Pluto with Pluto

NASA Discovers Significant Amount of Water on The Moon

NASA LogoThe NASA Ames Research Center has just discovered a significant amount of water on the moon:

NASA today opened a new chapter in our understanding of the moon. Preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the Oct. 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole.

The impact created by the LCROSS Centaur upper stage rocket created a two-part plume of material from the bottom of the crater. The first part was a high angle plume of vapor and fine dust and the second a lower angle ejecta curtain of heavier material. This material has not seen sunlight in billions of years.

“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and by extension the solar system. It turns out the moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Scientists have long speculated about the source of vast quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected.

For the full story, read NASA’s official announcement. There are also graphs and images related to the discovery.

Science rage!

String Theory Finally Proven?

Theoretical physicists from Leiden in the Netherlands have successfully used string theory to describe a real, physical phenomenon: the quantum critical state, a factor in high-temperature super-conductivity.

Although the mystery of high temperature super-conductivity isn’t fully resolved, the findings do show that major problems in physics can be addressed using string theory. And this is just the start, Zaanen believes. ‘AdS/CFT correspondence now explains things that colleagues who have been beavering away for ages were unable to resolve, in spite of their enormous efforts. There are a lot of things that can be done with it. We don’t fully understand it yet, but I see it as a gateway to much more.’ The fact that Science was keen to publish this discovery early confirms this.

Now, if I had any idea what this means, I would probably be a lot more excited.

Here’s a short introduction to string theory:

If that fascinates you, I can strongly recommend the BBC documentary Parallel Universes, which gives a great introduction to M-theory, the so-called theory of everything.

Something to Consider Before Travelling in Time

Maybe Isaac Asimov can calm you down. An excerpt from his book, The End of Eternity:

He had not doubted precision pin-pointing in Time-travel since his Cubhood days. He remembered himself then, facing Educator Yarrow seriously, saying, “But Earth moves about the Sun, and the Sun moves about the Galactic Center and the Galaxy moves too. If you started from some point on Earth, and move downwhen a hundred years, you’ll be in empty space, because it will take a hundred years for Earth to reach that point.” (Those were the days when he still referred to a Century as a “hundred years.”)

And Educator Yarrow had snapped back, “You don’t separate Time from space. Moving through Time, you share Earth’s motions. Or do you believe that a bird flying through the air whiffs out into space because the Earth is hurrying around the Sun at eighteen miles a second and vanishes from under the creature?”

Image credit: Unknown