Melissa Franklin on the Science of Smashing

Which is tougher, finding the world’s smallest particles with a multi-million dollar supercollider, or surviving the halls of the competitive, male-dominated Harvard Physics Department as a women? Melissa Franklin, who visited Big Think this week is the only person in the world who can answer this question—she’s done both. The particle physicist was the first to gain tenure at Harvard, and she has led some pioneering work at Fermilab, and soon will be helping in the operation of the latest giant particle smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC). We asked her how she got her start, what exactly a particle physicist does (and why), what the LHC will be able to do.


Franklin also poked fun at popular scientists, gave her career advice, and explained what keeps her up at night.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

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New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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