The Secret to the Universe: A Crash Course (UPDATED)
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
UPDATED: 12.12 10:08 AM EST: If you were hoping for an early Christmas present, you will be disappointed. The discovery of the Higgs particle will not be confirmed until 2012 at the earliest, when scientists have been able to analyse more data. As the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) tweeted this morning:
For a more detailed summary of the Higgs search status, visit CERN's website.
What's the Big Idea?
Why do particles have mass?
After smashing hundreds of trillions of protons at the Large Hadron Collider, a giant particle accelerator in Switzerland, scientists may be closer than ever before to an answer. In fact, at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8AM EST scientists from the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) will present a "progress report" on the search for the so-called 'Higgs particle' (a.k.a "God particle"), in what is expected to be a major announcement.
Why might this be such a significant event? The reigning theory in particle physics known as the Standard Model offers us the best, albeit incomplete, picture of the particles and forces that make up our Universe. While this theory fails to incorporate the fundamental force of gravity, or account for the existence of dark matter, if the Higgs is located, scientists will have found "the key to the origin of particle mass." In other words, we will have a more complete understanding of how the Universe works.
What's the Significance?
If the scientific discovery of the decade (or generation, or century -- who knows?) is announced tomorrow, and if we are to fully appreciate its significance, we must understand the context of this discovery, and how scientists have arrived here.
For this essential primer we will turn to the Harvard particle physicist Lisa Randall, who in this video explains the design and goals of the 27 kilometer-wide proton-smasher known as the Large Hadron Collider.
Watch the video here:
As Randall intimates, there are other mysteries the Large Hadron Collider may unlock, including extra dimensional theories, which she addresses in this video below.
Watch the video here:
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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