Recreating the Big Bang
The world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, will shortly begin to recreate conditions that existed just instants after the big bang.
What's the Latest Development?
In the coming four weeks, the Large Hadron Collider will begin smashing lead ions together at super-high speeds, creating extremely hot and dense conditions similar to those just instants after the big bang. "Lead ion collisions at the L.H.C. last year showed hints of producing a quark-gluon plasma, an exotic state of matter in which quarks—normally bound in pairs or triplets—are able to wander freely." Until now, the L.H.C. has been hunting the Higgs boson, a particle believed to give mass to matter.
What's the Big Idea?
Scientists want to get closer than ever before to the moment of the big bang and will obtain about ten times as much data this year compared to last. This will allow them to better study the rare quark-gluon plasma state in more detail. "They want to better probe how the behaviour of matter changes with temperature near the quark-gluon plasma state." After it temporarily shuts down during the winter months to save energy, the collider will reopen next year with even more power in hopes of finding the Higgs boson.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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