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  1. #3201

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    'Excitement builds over Higgs data':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18521327

    "Excitement is building ahead of a conference to be held in Melbourne, Australia, in July where scientists are expected to present new findings in their search for the Higgs boson.

    But a definitive statement on its existence will probably have to wait - at the very least until the Autumn.

    Nevertheless, a 30-year search for this vital missing building block of the Universe is entering its endgame.

    The Higgs is the most coveted prize in particle physics.

    It is the cornerstone of the Standard Model - the most successful theory for describing how the Universe works - and explains why all other particles have mass.

    In December, scientists at Cern, the organisation which operates the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), told the world they had possibly "glimpsed" the elusive particle.

    But scientists had to stop short of announcing a discovery; their tentative signal did not meet the benchmark required for a formal discovery. This threshold is a level of statistical certainty known as "five sigma".

    A five sigma result means there is a one in 1,000,000 chance that a "bump" in the data (the possible signal of a new particle) is just a fluke.

    The LHC rumbled back to life in April with little fanfare following its regular winter shutdown to save on electricity costs. After something of a slow start, it has begun to collide particles at a higher energy than ever before.

    Not only has it received a hike in energy, from 3.5 trillion electronvolts (TeV) to 4 TeV, but also luminosity (this is a measure of the number of collisions that are possible per second and per cm squared).

    The latter in particular has been important for boosting data collection: the collider has already gathered slightly more data in the last few months as it did during the whole of 2011.

    Physicists have been hard at work crunching the numbers and are set to give an update to the Cern Council, which meets on Thursday and Friday. They then plan to present results at the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Melbourne, which runs 4-11 July.

    "There are three things that can happen," says Dr James Gillies, director of communications at Cern, "[The signal has] gone down in significance, it has gone up in significance - but not to the point where physicists can claim a discovery - or thirdly, that there's a discovery."

    Two experiments at the LHC - Atlas and CMS - are searching for the Higgs independently and will present their findings separately. Scientific groups both within and between the collaborations are not supposed to talk to each other about their findings, thus preventing "cross contamination" of results.

    In some instances, one experiment might observe something that the other does not, as happened at the US Tevatron particle smasher last year. However, if both experiments see a signal in the same part of the "search area" - as Atlas and CMS did in December - it becomes more likely that they are observing something tangible, rather than a statistical fluctuation.

    Once they have presented their results, they can be combined on one graph. If the results from Atlas or CMS fall short of the five sigma level, the combination could push the statistical significance over the discovery threshold.

    Combined results won't be available by the time of ICHEP. But, says Dr Gillies, "people who are not involved in the analyses directly won't be able to resist the temptation to say 'look, if you put these together, you get this result'."

    "I don't know what's in the data yet, but there's a lot of excitement about what might be there."

    It is no surprise that the blogosphere is rife with rumours. At the blog Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit says scientists analysing the 2012 data observe a signal in the same place - a mass of 125 Gigaelectronvolts (GeV) - as they did in December, at least for a Higgs decaying into two photons.

    Scientists cannnot detect the Higgs directly; if the particle is generated by smashing protons together in the LHC, they will have to infer its existence by looking at the particles it has ultimately decayed - or transformed - into, and work backwards to "reconstruct" it.

    Woit writes that the certainty level has crept up and says the fact both Atlas and CMS observe a signal in the new data strengthens the significance of the result. However, Cern officials will not comment on rumours and stress that analyses are ongoing.

    Other physicists believe a five sigma result is highly unlikely to be announced at the ICHEP conference.

    Prof Dave Charlton, from the Atlas collaboration, cautions: "One shouldn't get too excited about what's going to happen… at ICHEP. The amount of data we'll have collected and expect to be able to present is similar to what we collected last year. So we should get a lot more information, but strange things can happen with low statistics.

    He adds: "[The data] comes in more or less continuously over the year. We'll take one snapshot in July at the ICHEP conference in Melbourne, then there'll be another snapshot in mid-September. And then another towards the end of the year. The evidence will evolve between those three sets of results and we don't know how it will evolve.

    "We have this whole year's worth of data to take. And when we have that full data sample, which will be towards the end of [2012], that's the timescale on which we will have the really clear picture."

    If one assumes the signal from 2011 does not vanish, and eventually exceeds the five-sigma threshold, physicists will then begin the process of understanding what they have found.

    They will want to know whether the new particle fits the version of the Higgs envisaged by the Standard Model, or whether its properties hint at some new physics.

    That will involve years of detailed and difficult work, says Dr Tony Weidberg, from the University of Oxford. He told BBC News that even at a certainty level of five sigma "you're very far from proving it's a Higgs particle at all, let alone a Standard Model Higgs".

    He adds: "If the most plausible hypothesis is that it's a Standard Model Higgs, you have to ask 'what experiments can we do to test that hypothesis'. The answer is to measure as much detail as you can about this particle. It's much harder to do these detailed measurements than just see if there is something there."

    There is much the Standard Model cannot explain - gravity for example, or the dark matter and dark energy that together make up most of our Universe. This framework is now seen as a stepping stone to something more significant - a theory of everything.

    "If we find something it could either be a bog-standard Standard Model Higgs boson, which would be very nice but would not give us any pointers on where to go next," says Dr Gillies. "Or it could be an incarnation of the Higgs which is linked to supersymmetry or extra dimensions theory."

    Most physicists will hope it is the latter, he explains, "just in terms of getting us to the 96% of the Universe the Standard Model doesn't cover".

    Dr Gillies adds: "By measuring all the parameters and decays accurately and precisely we will be able to establish what kind of Higgs it is."

    Tony Weidberg says: "The Higgs is responsible for generating mass in the theory, so it couples more strongly to heavier particles than to lighter ones. That's a very characteristic feature."

    Such a particle could be further characterised by studying the ways in which it decays into other particles, the different ways in which it is produced and also the rates at which it is produced.

    For example, the teams can measure the ratios of various final states after the Higgs has decayed into other particles. These ratios can then be compared against the predictions of the Standard Model.

    Mre subtle measurements would require the LHC to generate much more luminosity; the machine is expected to increase this property through a series of upgrades over the next 10 years."

    ---------------------------------

    And a number of links in the article proper.
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  2. #3202
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    Very, very cool. Thanks for posting the article, El_Cid

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    Proximity of New Planets Stuns Even Astronomers

    ScienceDaily (June 21, 2012) — One is a rocky planet 1.5 times the size of Earth. The other is a gaseous world nearly four times Earth's size. Together they form a spectacular system in which two planets orbit closer to each other than any yet discovered.

    "We've never known of planets like this," said Yale University astronomer Sarbani Basu, a member of the research team that analyzed the system. "If you were on the smaller planet looking up, the larger planet would seem more than twice the size of Earth's full moon. It would be jaw-dropping."

    Basu's research focused on determining the properties of the planets' host star -- work that was essential for discerning the characteristics of the orbiting planets.

    The 46-member, international team, led by astronomers at Harvard and the University of Washington, report their discovery June 21 in Science Express, the early release version of the journal Science.

    "These two worlds are having close encounters," said Josh Carter, lead author of the paper and a Hubble Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    Located about 1200 light years away, the two-planet system -- now called Kepler-36 -- orbits a star similar to Earth's sun, but bigger and older.

    The larger outer planet, Kepler-36c, is a hot, gaseous, Neptune-like planet. The smaller inner planet, Kepler-36b, is rocky and subject to quakes and volcanic eruptions caused by the interplay of the planets' gravitational forces on each other.

    Like our sun, Kepler-36 pulsates constantly. Data on its quakes enabled the team to determine its size, weight, and age (all greater than those of our sun). Knowing the star's radius and mass enabled the calculation of the sizes and masses of the planets. From this information, astronomers could determine the planets' densities and characteristics: the smaller planet is denser than Earth and hence must be rocky; the larger planet is much less dense, in fact less dense than water, suggesting it is gaseous.

    "The precise determination of the planets' properties was possible because the star around which they revolve could be characterized precisely," said Basu.

    The planets' proximity to each other is astonishing, according to the researchers. The rocky inner planet orbits its star every 14 days, at an average distance of 11 million miles. The outer gaseous planet orbits every 16 days, at an average distance of 12 million miles.

    Every 97 days they move into perfect alignment, a position known as conjunction. At that point they are separated by a mere 1.2 million miles -- less than five times the distance between Earth and its moon. By contrast, Venus, Earth's nearest neighbor, never comes closer than 26 million miles.

    The research team identified the planets by analyzing data from NASA's Kepler satellite. Kepler detects planets by measuring variations in the brightness of stars; dips in brightness may indicate a planet passing in front the star.

    This discovery poses new challenges to the theories of planet formation. Astronomers are now trying to understand how planets with markedly different compositions and densities fell into remarkably close orbit.

    NASA and the National Science Foundation supported the research. The national research councils of the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Netherlands also provided support.

    Eric Agol of the University of Washington is a co-lead author of the paper.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    The interesting thing to note here is how much distance matters when gravity/mass comes into play. Both those planets are, on their shortest distance, closer to each other then the most outer major moon of Saturn (Iapetus) on its average distance from the planet. The furthest major outer moon of Jupiter, Callisto, is about the same distance op Kepler 36c from 36b. Yet in the case of Kepler 36 the closeness of both planets to their sun keeps them apart.

  4. #3204
    Monarch Arnelos's Avatar
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    I have to assume that the only way you can get 2 planets into that close of orbit would be that one of the two started further out in the solar system and somehow got bumped closer to the star... but placed into a similar orbit that yet somehow didn't collide... a sort of perfect circumstance.

    As for the particulars, that'd be fascinating to see someone figure out.

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    Yup. Migrating planets seems to be one of the hot theoretical items of planetary formation discussions.
    Perfect circumstances don't really happen (at least IMO). IIRC one of the theories that halts migrating planets during the formation stage is lack of more particles to cobble up, like another planet having already cleared the orbit below of them.
    But it seems planets can also migrate (or rather, flung away) by influences of more massive planets AFTER the formation stage is over.

  6. #3206

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    And it's good to hear more about the Kepler planets (they were part of the new wave of new exo planets we talked about a while back iirc?) Wouldn't want to live on either of these two though!
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  7. #3207
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    Flavor Is Price of Scarlet Hue of Tomatoes, Study Finds

    Plant geneticists say they have discovered an answer to a near-universal question: Why are tomatoes usually so tasteless?

    Yes, they are often picked green and shipped long distances. Often they are refrigerated, which destroys their flavor and texture. But now researchers have discovered a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.

    The unexpected culprit is a gene mutation that occurred by chance and that was discovered by tomato breeders. It was deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes because it conferred an advantage: It made them a uniform luscious scarlet when ripe.

    Now, in a paper published in the journal Science, researchers report that the very gene that was inactivated by that mutation plays an important role in producing the sugar and aromas that are the essence of a fragrant, flavorful tomato. And these findings provide a road map for plant breeders to make better-tasting, evenly red tomatoes.

    The discovery “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” said Harry Klee, a tomato researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the research. “That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.”

    The mutation’s effect was a real surprise, said James J. Giovannoni of the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service, an author of the paper. He called the wide adoption of tomatoes that ripen uniformly “a story of unintended consequences.”

    Breeders stumbled upon the variety about 70 years ago and saw commercial potential. Consumers like tomatoes that are red all over, but ripe tomatoes normally had a ring of green, yellow or white at the stem end. Producers of tomatoes used in tomato sauce or ketchup also benefited. Growers harvest this crop all at once, Dr. Giovannoni said, and “with the uniform ripening gene, it is easier to determine when the tomatoes are ripe.”

    Then, about 10 years ago, Ann Powell, a plant biochemist at the University of California, Davis, happened on a puzzle that led to the new discovery.

    Dr. Powell, a lead author of the Science paper, was studying weed genes. Her colleagues had put those genes into tomato plants, which are, she said, the lab rats of the plant world. To Dr. Powell’s surprise, tomatoes with the genes turned the dark green of a sweet pepper before they ripened, rather than the insipid pale green of most tomatoes today.

    “That got me thinking,” Dr. Powell said. “Why do fruits bother being green in the first place?” The green is from chloroplasts, self-contained energy factories in plant cells, where photosynthesis takes place. The end result is sugar, which plants use for food. And, Dr. Powell said, the prevailing wisdom said sugar travels from a plant’s leaves to its fruit. So chloroplasts in tomato fruit seemed inconsequential.

    Still, she said, the thought of dark green tomatoes “kind of bugged me.” Why weren’t the leaves dark green, too?

    About a year ago, she and her colleagues, including Dr. Giovannoni, decided to investigate. The weed genes, they found, replaced a disabled gene in a tomato’s fruit but not in its leaves. With the weed genes, the tomatoes turned dark green.

    The reason the tomatoes had been light green was that they had the uniform ripening mutation, which set up a sort of chain reaction. The mutation not only made tomatoes turn uniformly green and then red, but also disabled genes involved in ripening. Among them are genes that allow the fruit to make some of its own sugar instead of getting it only from leaves. Others increase the amount of carotenoids, which give tomatoes a full red color and, it is thought, are involved in flavor.

    To test their discovery, the researchers used genetic engineering to turn on the disabled genes while leaving the uniform ripening trait alone. The fruit was evenly dark green and then red and had 20 percent more sugar and 20 to 30 percent more carotenoids when ripe.

    But were the genetically engineered tomatoes more flavorful? Because Department of Agriculture regulations forbid the consumption of experimental produce, no one tasted them.

    And, Dr. Giovannoni says, do not look for those genetically engineered tomatoes at the grocery store. Producers would not dare to make such a tomato for fear that consumers would reject it.

    But, Dr. Powell said, there is a way around the issue. Heirloom tomatoes and many wild species do not have the uniform ripening mutation. “The idea is to get the vegetable seed industry interested,” Dr. Powell said.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/sc...-say.html?_r=1
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  8. #3208

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    Any tomatoe i've grown has never been tasteless. Most you buy in a supermarket will be. It might also be down to scale/proximity of production and competing for resources as the plant matures? But whatever, i'll personaly never be persuaded that only a GM tomatoe can taste good, because i know it's not true
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  9. #3209
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    I miss the produce in Europe. It was always so flavorful, fresh, and cheap.
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  10. #3210

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    This answers George Castanza's question of why the tomato never caught on as a "hand fruit."
    "I never learned from a man who agreed with me." ... Robert A Heinlein

  11. #3211

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    'TEDGlobal: Camera shows off speed of light images':

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18636266

    "Images taken by a revolutionary camera fast enough to capture light pulses moving through objects have been shown off at the TEDGlobal conference.

    The so-called femto-camera can also take pictures around corners by collecting the tiny amounts of light that bounce around the scene.

    Prof Ramesh Raskar showed a video of light travelling through a plastic bottle on stage.

    The images may help develop new theories about how light travels.

    "Einstein would have liked it," said Prof Raskar.

    But taking images was not his first thought for the camera, which was developed at the MIT Media Lab in 2010.

    "Initially I was obsessed with the camera seeing around corners and then I realised that we could use the data for pure visualisations," he told the BBC.

    He has discussed the idea with scientists from around the world, including those at Cern - the base for the Large Hadron Collider.

    "They have various ultra-fast events at the sub-atomic level which this has potential to help with," he said.

    Other possible uses for the femto-camera include health imaging to offers views from inside the body without using x-rays.

    An adapted device could also allow cars to "see" obstructions on the road ahead, while in disaster zones it could be used to see where people need help.

    "It will challenge what we mean by a camera," said Prof Raskar.

    He admitted that it would be some time before the huge device made it out of the laboratory but to help it on its way he has released details about the technology behind it.

    "We are trying to start an open source movement," he said.

    "All the interlocking parts are not fundamentally expensive so we want to start a femto-camera and femto-photography open source movement for science, art or just for curiosity."

    He also showed off a much smaller and cheaper device, part of a new start-up dubbed Eye Netra (Near Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment).

    The clip-on eye-piece sits on a smartphone and acts in the same way as much more complex devices used by professional opticians.

    "We are entering a world of hardware snap-ons that can change the functionality of phones," he told the BBC.

    "It is an interesting contrast between the super-expensive technology and super-cheap technology for the masses."

    He added that the devices could prove useful in the developing world where many people cannot secure an opticians appointment."

    ---------------------------

    and links and pics in the article proper.
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

  12. #3212

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    'Asteroid hunters announce private deep space mission':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18638807

    "Details have been released of an ambitious asteroid-hunting mission that a Californian non-profit organisation hopes to launch later this decade.

    The Sentinel infrared telescope would be put in space to find and track potentially hazardous rocks near Earth.

    The B612 Foundation project will cost several hundred million dollars, and big donations are being sought from around the world to fund the exercise.

    Mission team members include former astronauts and senior Nasa officials.

    Renowned manufacturer Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation has already sketched an early design for the telescope.

    The foundation has been working for almost 10 years to try to raise awareness of the dangers that lurk in space, and has conducted technical studies on how one might deflect an asteroid on a collision path with Earth.

    But it says there is an urgent need to identify where all the dangerous rocks are, and the time has now come for the private, philanthropic sector to take on the task.

    "All of us have come to realise in the last several years that the human environment is not only land, water and air, but is also space," said Rusty Schweickart, the Apollo 9 astronaut and chairman emeritus at B612.

    "All of us know today the value of communications satellites, weather satellites, resources satellites, etc. And among them, with our Sentinel mission, will be a satellite that provides public safety in the sense of enabling the prevention of asteroid impacts and devastation in the future."

    On average, an object about the size of car will enter Earth's atmosphere once a year, producing a spectacular fireball in the sky.

    About every 2,000 years or so, an object the size of a football field will impact Earth, causing significant local damage.

    And then, every few million years, a rock turns up that has a girth measured in kilometres. An impact from one of these will produce global effects.

    Current surveys suggest we have probably found a little over 90% of the true monsters out there, and none look like they will hit us.

    It is the second category that the foundation's mission will seek to investigate. The vast majority of these rocks await discovery.

    "We've found a bit less than 1% of the objects out that that can do harm," explained Schweickart.

    Ed Lu, former shuttle astronaut and CEO of the foundation, added: "Eventually we will have to deflect an asteroid; we know that. Because essentially, we're playing cosmic roulette. We're flying around the Solar System with these other objects and the laws of probability eventually catch up with you."

    The Sentinel telescope will lean heavily on hardware that has already been proven on previous Ball designs, such as Nasa's Kepler planet-hunter and its Spitzer infrared space observatory.

    From its position close to Venus's orbit, it will be able to look out and build maps of the space environment in Earth's neighbourhood.

    Its infrared detectors will be sensitive to wavelengths of light in the range from five to 10.4 microns. It is in this range that the asteroids will glow brightly.

    During the 5.5-year mission, the telescope would expect to catalogue 500,000 new asteroids, including more than 90% of those large enough to cause a 100 megaton impact should they strike Earth (in other words, objects that are 140m wide or larger).

    But the Sentinel would also expect to find about 50% of the rocks down to a diameter of 30m - the sort of object that in 1908 laid waste to a vast swathe of forest at Tunguska in Siberia.

    The hope would be that the data returned by the telescope would allow the orbits of all these asteroids to be determined for about the next 100 years. We would then have sufficient time to develop a mitigation strategy if any of the objects are considered to have a high probability of hitting our planet.

    A launch for the Sentinel telescope is being targeted for 2017 or 2018. The group hopes to use the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which recently made history by sending the first privately developed cargo ship to the International Space Station.

    Nasa has a direct involvement by allowing its antenna network to be used to receive all of the Sentinel's data, but the US space agency will not be funding any part of the venture. That will require donations.

    The foundation says the project would cost no more than setting up a museum, an opera theatre, or academic building - all of which succeed in attracting the support of private benefactors.

    "There's a long tradition of funding large telescopes philanthropically," Lu told BBC News.

    "If you look at the major telescopes put up over the past 100 years, they are dominated by privately funded endeavours - the Keck telescope, the Lick Observatory, Mount Palomar.

    "The difference is that our telescope is not going to be sitting on a mountaintop but will be orbiting the Sun."

    B612 takes its name from the asteroid home of the Little Prince in the children's short novel Le Petit Prince written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

    The foundation has no formal connection with Planetary Resources, the American company which in April announced its intention to spearhead a robotic asteroid mining industry."

    --------------------

    And lots of links in the article proper.
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  13. #3213
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    CERN to announce evidence for the 'God particle'.
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  14. #3214

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    Seems likely, shame buster isn't around to enjoy it here. And atleast we don't (most likely) have to rip up the whole foundation of our understanding of the universe so far

    'US sees stronger hints of Higgs':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18677808

    "Hints of the Higgs boson detected last year by a US "atom smasher" have become even stronger, scientists have said.

    The news comes amid fevered speculation about an announcement by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider on Wednesday.

    Finding the particle would fill a glaring hole in the widely accepted theory of how the Universe works.

    This 30-year hunt is reaching an end, with experts confident they will soon be able to make a definitive statement about the particle's existence.

    The latest findings have come from analysis of data gathered by the US Tevatron particle accelerator, which was shut down at the end of last year.

    Researchers squeezed the last information out of hundreds of trillions of collisions produced by the Tevatron - which was based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois - since March 2001.

    This final analysis of the data does not settle the question of whether the Higgs particle exists, but gets closer to an answer.

    The scientists see hints of the boson in roughly the same part of the "search region" as the LHC - between the masses of 115 and 135 Gigaelectronvolts (GeV).

    The signal is seen at the 2.9-sigma level of certainty, which means there is roughly a one in 1,000 chance that the result is attributable to some statistical quirk in the data.

    In particle physics, three sigma counts as "evidence". Claiming a discovery requires a statistical certainty of five sigma - which denotes a one in a million chance that any given result is a fluke.

    Fermilab's Rob Roser, co-spokesperson for the Tevatron's CDF experiment, said: "Our data strongly point toward the existence of the Higgs boson, but it will take results from the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe to establish a discovery."

    Stefan Soldner-Rembold, professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester, told BBC News: "The evidence is piling up... everything points in the direction that the Higgs is there."

    He added: "At the Tevatron a lot of important work has been done over the last years... it has been essential for arriving at this stage.

    "So yes, the Tevatron experiments should get recognition for that, even though the LHC will be the collider to provide the final proof that the Higgs exists."

    The Higgs is the cornerstone of the Standard Model - the most successful theory to explain the workings of the Universe - and explains why all other particles have mass.

    But it remains on the run; though it is predicted to exist, the particle has never been detected experimentally.

    If the LHC confirms the boson's existence, physicists will set about the task of working out whether or not it is the version of the Higgs predicted by the Standard Model.

    Many researchers will hope it is not, because that would hint at phenomena outside our current understanding of physics.

    The Higgs cannot be seen directly; physicists have to infer its existence by looking at the particles it has ultimately decayed - or transformed - into, and work backwards to "reconstruct" it.

    The Tevatron and the LHC look for the boson in different ways. The LHC is expected to present evidence for a Higgs transforming into two photons - the rarest decay path predicted by theory.

    The Tevatron appears to see hints of a Higgs transforming into particles known as b quarks - the most common type of decay.

    Combining information from both accelerators will provide vital clues about the nature of this potential new particle, and whether it is really the Higgs boson scientists expect.

    Most researchers now regard the Standard Model as a stepping stone to some other, more complete theory, which can explain phenomena such as dark matter and dark energy.

    A non-conformist Higgs could open the door to a theory called supersymmetry - which predicts that each Standard Model particle is accompanied by a heavier partner known as a "sparticle". Or it could hint at the existence of extra dimensions.

    For physicists, these would be more exciting outcomes, and would keep them busy for many years to come."

    ------------------------------

    links in the article proper.

    I'm still not sure exactly what it all means to me personaly, as in i haven't sat around to think about it much, other than reading the articles and announcements etc. It is all quite exciting though
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  15. #3215
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    Evidence of 'God Particle' to be presented simultaneously in Melbourne at the International Conference of High Energy Physics and Geneva tonight!

    Announcement to occur ~5pm AEST (+10 GMT). CERN will present all their evidence of the possible identification of the Higgs Boson.

    Two separate teams will present their evidence, and the hopes of some in the physics arena (and the fear of some others ) is that they will reach the 5-sigma threshold (1 in 1.7 million chance of being wrong).
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  16. #3216

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    'Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-18702455

    Cern scientists revealing results from the Large Hadron Collider have claimed the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

    The particle has been the subject of a 45-year hunt to explain how matter attains its mass.

    Both of the two Higgs-hunting experiments at the LHC on the Franco-Swiss border have reached a level of certainty worthy of a "discovery".

    More work will be needed to be certain that what they see is a Higgs, however.

    Both teams claimed they had seen a "bump" in their data corresponding to a particle weighing in at about 125-126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) - about 130 times heavier than the proton at the heart of every atom.

    The results announced at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern) were met with thunderous applause.

    At the meeting, Prof Peter Higgs, the former University of Edinburgh theoretician who with five others predicted the Higgs particle's existence in 1964, praised the efforts of the LHC teams.

    "It's really an incredible thing its happened in my lifetime," he said.

    The CMS team claimed that by combining two of its data sets, they had attained a confidence level just at the "five-sigma" point - about a one-in-3.5 million chance that the signal they see would appear if there were no Higgs particle.

    However, a full combination of the CMS data brings that number just back to 4.9 sigma - a one-in-2 million chance.

    Joe Incandela, spokesman for CMS, was unequivocal.

    "The results are preliminary but the five-sigma signal at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle," he told the Geneva meeting.

    Fabiola Gianotti, spokeswoman for the Atlas experiment, announced even more irrefutable results.

    "We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of five sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV," she said.

    Anticipation had been high and rumours were rife before the announcement.

    Indications are strong, but it remains to be seen whether the particle the team reports is in fact the simplest "standard model" Higgs, rather than something more complex - and those answers will certainly not come on Wednesday.

    Cern director-general Rolf Heuer summed up the two presentations succinctly, saying: "I think we have it - we have a discovery. We have an observation consistent with a Higgs boson - but which one?"

    A confirmation would be one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the century; the hunt for the Higgs has been compared by some physicists to the Apollo programme that reached the Moon in the 1960s.

    Two different experiment teams at the LHC observe a signal in the same part of the "search region" for the Higgs - at a rough mass of 125 GeV.

    Hints of the particle, revealed to the world by teams at the LHC in December 2011, have since strengthened markedly.

    The $10bn LHC is the most powerful particle accelerator ever built: it smashes two beams of protons together at close to the speed of light with the aim of revealing new phenomena in the wreckage of the collisions.

    The Atlas and CMS experiments, which were designed to hunt for the Higgs at the LHC, each detect a signal with a statistical certainty of more than 4.5 sigma.

    Five sigma is the generally accepted benchmark for claiming the discovery of a new particle. It equates to a one in 3.5 million chance that there is no Higgs and the "bump" in the data is down to some statistical fluctuation.

    Prof Stefan Soldner-Rembold, from the University of Manchester, told BBC News earlier this week: "The evidence is piling up... everything points in the direction that the Higgs is there."

    The Higgs is the cornerstone of the Standard Model - the most successful theory to explain the workings of the Universe.

    But most researchers now regard the Standard Model as a stepping stone to some other, more complete theory, which can explain phenomena such as dark matter and dark energy.

    Scientists will look at how the new particle decays -or transforms - into other, more stable particles after being produced in collisions at the LHC to figure out whether the particle they see is the version of the Higgs predicted by the Standard Model or something more exotic. .

    "We'll look at how often it decays into a pair of photons, how often it decays into Z bosons, how often it decays into W bosons," said Dr Tara Shears, from the University of Liverpool.

    "It could match what the Standard Model predicts, but if there are deviations, that means there is new physics at work. That would be the first glimpse through the window at what lies beyond our current understanding."

    -------------------------------

    links and pics in the article proper.

    Ah...Buncle it was there all along! Next up, Dark Matter just what the hell is it? And now we can have a chance of measuring it
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

  17. #3217
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    4.9 sigma? They can't call out "Eureka" yet. It's not an official discovery at 4.9.

    Back to work folks.
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  18. #3218

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    such a hard task master

    but yeah it needs to be 5 sigma for full clarification as a true discovery, so 0.1 short currently.
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

  19. #3219

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    Good news about anti-aging while in space...........if you are a worm anyway!

    'Worm lifetime 'longer in space':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18727012

    "Spacefaring worms undergo genetic changes associated with longer lives in their Earth-bound cousins, research has shown.

    A number of Caenorhabditis elegans worms were carried aboard a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and brought back for study.

    Researchers found reduced activity of five genes in the worms that, when suppressed in the species on Earth, lead to longer lifetimes.

    The work appears in Scientific Reports.

    The nematode C. elegans is among the world's most-studied animals.

    They have been routinely taken as cargo on space missions to study in a simple organism the biological changes that future human spacefarers may face; the worms even survived the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.

    More recently, the prospects for a self-contained and self-sustaining colony of the worms were described in a 2011 paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

    But it was also the first multi-celled organism to have its entire genome sequenced, and researchers are now getting to the bottom of what changes space travel wreaks on the worms' genomes.

    Nathaniel Szewczyk of the University of Nottingham and researchers from a number of Japanese universities examined worms that were taken for an 11-day trip on the space shuttle to the ISS and then flash-frozen once they returned to Earth.

    A "control group" of worms was kept on Earth at the time and frozen at the same time. The lifetime of the worms ranges from two to three weeks, so they were at a fairly advanced age when preserved.

    The team found that the muscles of the well-travelled worms exhibited smaller amounts of polyglutamine aggregates, tangles of protein that tended to accumulate in the muscles as animals aged.

    But they also found five genes that were more "switched off" than the worms that had stayed on Earth.

    The five were involved in signalling in the nervous and metabolic systems, and one that is chemically similar to insulin - the manipulation of which was shown in a 2003 Science paper to enormously increase C. elegans' lifetime.

    "It would appear that these genes are involved in how the worm senses the environment and signals changes in metabolism in order to adapt to the environment," said Dr Szewczyk.

    "Most of us know that muscle tends to shrink in space. These latest results suggest that this is almost certainly an adaptive response rather than a pathological one.

    "Counter-intuitively, muscle in space may age better than on Earth. It may also be that spaceflight slows the process of ageing."

    ------------------------

    links in the article proper.
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

  20. #3220

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    part of me thinks there might be something behind this (simply down to the fact we have evolved from roaming/nomad monkey creatures, so our evolution will have involved lots of walking), evne though, as the article mentions, trying to reach the goal of only sitting for a few hours a day is mostly impossible for most people:

    "Can spending less time sitting down add years to life?":

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18767278

    "Limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy, scientists calculate.

    Similarly, if we cut daily TV viewing down to two hours we could add on 1.4 years, they say in a report for the online journal BMJ Open.

    But experts say the US estimates, which are based on five separate population studies, are too unreliable to predict personal risk.

    Plus the targets are unfeasible.

    Prof David Spiegelhalter, an expert in risk calculations at the University of Cambridge, said: "This is a study of populations, and does not tell you personally what the effect of getting off the sofa might be.

    "It seems plausible that if future generations moved around a bit more, then they might live longer on average.

    "But very few of us currently spend less than three hours sitting each day, and so this seems a very optimistic target."

    Adults are advised to do at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, as well as a couple of sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises like lifting weights or digging in the garden.

    But even if you do this recommended amount, you may still be sedentary - for example, if you work in an office you may spend most of your working day sitting.

    A growing body of evidence suggests the more time we spend sitting, the less healthy we may be.

    Several studies have linked sitting and television viewing to conditions like diabetes and heart disease as well as an increased overall risk of death from any cause.

    But finding a link is not the same as proving one thing actually causes the other.

    And although this latest piece of research does not claim to be proof, the researchers themselves acknowledge there are flaws that make its findings less than reliable.

    The work looked at a large sample of people - almost 167,000 in total - but did not scrutinise the different lifestyles these individuals led.

    It is not clear how many of these people were less healthy to begin with and who, therefore, might spend more time sitting down as a result.

    And the studies relied on the participants accurately recalling and reporting how much time they spent lounging around.

    Dr Peter Katzmarzyk and Prof I-Min Lee who carried out the review stress that their estimates are theoretical.

    But given that the adults in their research spent, on average, half of their days sitting "engaged in sedentary pursuits", the findings could provide an important public health warning.

    Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This research only suggests a causal association between sedentary behaviour and a shorter life expectancy. It also used American data so we'd need to see more research to understand what it means for the UK population.

    "However, it does highlight what we already know about sedentary behaviour being a risk factor for developing heart disease. And recent UK guidelines suggested we should all minimise the time we spend sitting down.

    "We all need to be regularly active to keep our hearts healthy. So whether it's by walking to the local shop rather than driving, or playing sport rather than watching it on TV, there are lots of ways to be more active and improve your health."

    ------------------------------

    I suppose i could work at my desk on a cycle machine or treadmill? not sure how productive i'd be though!
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

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