Higgs Boson Collateral: Stephen Hawking Loses $100 Bet
The discovery of the Higgs boson particle is not that exciting to at least one person: Stephen Hawking
The world-renowned physicist lost a $100 bet with Gordon Kane of Michigan University that it wouldn’t be found. “It seems I have just lost $100,” Hawking tells the BBC. “This is an important result and should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize,” he says. “But it is a pity in a way, because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.”
The discovery united the scientific community in praise for Peter Higgs, the physicist who first proposed the particle’s existence in 1964. The 83-year-old traveled to Switzerland to witness the announcement first-hand. “I would like to add my congratulations to everyone involved in this achievement,” he said. “It’s really an incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime.” The British professor, with characteristic modesty, insisted that the limelight belonged to the scientists who had proved that his theory was correct.
Scientists Claims To Find ‘God Particle’, Higgs Boson
One of the two independent teams at the world’s biggest atom smasher said Wednesday it has found strong evidence of a new subatomic particle that looks like the one believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape.
Joe Incandela, leader of one of the teams known as CMS, told scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that his team of 2,100 scientists has “observed” a new particle that is a boson — the same type of particle as the long-sought Higgs boson, popularly referred to as the “God particle.”
He described the data as consistent with the elusive Higgs boson, whose existence was predicted decades ago to help explain how the universe works, but stopped short of definitively declaring discovery of the Higgs boson.
The second team was just starting to present its evidence before a packed auditorium, where scientists broke into applause intermittently.
Fabiola Gianotti, leader of the second team of some 3,000 scientists, known as ATLAS, said it also has observed some “beautiful” events in CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border.
It has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.
Angela Zhang, 17, wins $100K scholarship for amazing cancer research
For her design of a cancer-fighting technique that targets tumors and leaves healthy tissue intact, Angela Zhang, of California, has won the grand prize in the Siemens Competition in Math Science and Technology, a $100,000 scholarship. She is all of 17 years old.
Zhang, a senior at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, took top individual honors for research that led to what she called a “Swiss army knife of cancer treatments” a gold-iron oxide nanoparticle that can precisely deliver chemotherapy to cancer tumors but not the surrounding healthy tissue, according to the Wall Street Journal and Mercury News.
“She showed great creativity and initiative in designing a nanoparticle system that can be triggered to release drugs at the site of the tumor while also allowing for non-invasive imaging,” competition judge Tejal Desai, a professor at UC San Francisco, said in a statement. “Her work is an important step in developing new approaches to the therapeutic targeting of tumors via nanotechnology.”
According to Desai, it could be as little as 25 years between clinical trials and other steps before her Zhang’s research is helping patients.
“This is a Cinderella moment for a science nerd like me,” Angela told the Mercury News.
Other recognition Angela Zhang – who began her work on this project in 2009 spending an estimated 1,000 hours on research – has received include the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award for medicine and health science in 2010 and 2011.
Becoming a research professor is her goal.
Weird science research got its night at the Ig Nobel awards, who won?
The annual Ig Nobel prizes for odd research were handed out last night and the winning scientists were as weird as ever.
Among the winners were a Japanese team that determined the ideal level of airborne wasabi to awaken sleepers (for a potential fire alarm), a Norwegian who tried to understand why people sigh, and Australian researchers who discovered that a certain species of beetle often attempts to mate with empty beer bottles, the Globe and Mail reports. Real Nobel winners handed out the prizes at the ceremony at Harvard.
The prize for public safety went to a Canadian who studied how well somebody could drive on a highway while wearing a helmet with a visor that repeatedly flapped over his face. The mayor of Vilnius won the peace prize for using a tank to crush cars parked in a bike lane. The mathematics prize went to six people—including rapture prophet Harold Camping—whose predictions of the end of the world turned out to be incorrect. The citation thanked the doomsday prophets “for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions.”
The end is near: Scientist team plots ‘fake volcano’ to fight global warming
Volcanic eruptions cool the planet by injecting particles into the stratosphere that reflect the sun’s rays, so could an artificial volcano counter global warming? A British scientific team is aiming to find out in what may be the biggest geo-engineering experiment ever conducted, the Guardian reports.
The team plans to send up a stadium-sized balloon tethered to the ground by a hose. Only water particles will be sent up this time, but if the engineering proves sound, the team plans to try sending up sulfates and other particles.
Scientists say the world needs to have a Plan B ready in case emissions can’t be reduced enough to slow climate change, but environmentalists warn that this experiment sets a dangerous precedent. “We are going to have to look at new technologies which could suck carbon dioxide out of the air. But what we don’t need to do is invest in harebrained schemes to reflect sunlight into space when we have no idea at all what impact this may have on weather systems around the globe,” warns a spokesman for Friends of the Earth.
More on this story here.
Yay America! Chimpanzee lab testing may soon be over
After years of using chimpanzees for scientific research—shooting them into space, testing hepatitis vaccines on them, using them for HIV studies—man’s closest relative could be nearing retirement, reports the Washington Post. The European Union banned using chimps for scientific research last year, and now the Institute of Medicine is debating ending the use of chimpanzees in the United States, one of the last countries in the world that still allows their use. “If you’re a scientist, a chimp is really a sort of last resort,” said one researcher.
In 2010, the number of biomedical chimp studies declined to 32, down from 53 in 2007, spurred in large part by drug companies ending their use. Many doctors prefer using other animals, including monkeys and genetically engineered mice, rather than chimps. Activist Jane Goodall spoke to the Institute of Medicine recently about the ethics of chimp research, calling it torture. “I’ve never worked with chimps, but just listening to Jane Goodall, I got a guilt trip,” said one researcher.
Cool: Scientists discover Earth is surrounded by anti-matter belt of doom
Described in the astrophysical journal Letters, the find confirms the theory that antimatter could be trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. The small amount of antiprotons were discovered lying between the Van Allen belts of regular trapped matter, spotted by the Pamela satellite, which was launched back in 2006 to study high-energy particles from the Sun and from areas beyond our Solar System.
The researchers that discovered the antiprotons didn’t hesitate in theorizing some fun science fiction, claiming there may be enough antiprotons to use the antimatter to fuel a spacecraft.
Co-author of the study, Alessandro Bruno of the University of Bari, says this belt of antimatter is ”the most abundant source of antiprotons near the Earth.” Talking to BBC News, Bruno said:
“Trapped antiprotons can be lost in the interactions with atmospheric constituents, especially at low altitudes where the annihilation becomes the main loss mechanism.
Above altitudes of several hundred kilometers, the loss rate is significantly lower, allowing a large supply of antiprotons to be produced.”
Scientists close to finding elusive Higgs particle that will kill us all
Science teams in both Europe and America are reporting promising new data in the hunt for the elusive Higgs boson particle—the so-called “God particle” believed to give mass to matter that remains the only particle predicted by the Standard Model of physics that has not yet been seen in experiments.
So far, researchers are only calling them “excess events.” But unusual “bumps” in the data were detected in particle collisions around 130-150 gigaelectronvolts at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, reports Nature.
“I’m excited,” says a spokesman for CERN. “We have been working in this field for 20 years and now in a matter of months we’ll know the answer.” Meanwhile, Fermilab, the Illinois-based physics lab, also reported getting some similar results over the weekend. “No reputable scientist is going to tell you anything more than ‘this is very, very interesting, and we’ll keep an eye on it.’ But it is indeed very, very interesting,” says one researcher at Fermilab.