A Particle Full of Charm

Almost two-hundred metres beneath the France-Switzerland border, physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider have observed a new particle. A charming particle. They’ve been on the look-out for him for some time, and now they’ve got him— Xicc++.

The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but this guy is more than meets the eye. He’s heavy. He’s charming. He’s a subatomic particle, and he’s a real catch. CERN’s particle smasher— based near Geneva, Switzerland— spotted the fellow during the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment, or the LHCb experiment for short.

Xicc++ is the elusive brother of the proton, neutron, and of a number of other composite subatomic particles. These particles are all a part of the same family, because they’re all made up of three quarks. What are quarks, you ask? Well, let’s dive in.

Read the full article on Herpothesis 



Solar Storms and Jupiter’s Dancing Lights

In case you thought Jupiter couldn’t get any cooler, a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research has laid out evidence that solar storms are causing Jupiter’s auroras (think the Northern Lights, the Southern Lights, or that scene from Brother Bear) to brighten by almost eight times their usual brilliance.

The interaction was spotted by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a telescope orbiting above the Earth to look for X-ray emissions in that big, old universe of ours.

Read the full article on Herpothesis


Harry Potter and the Battle of Diversity

When I need to get fired up I watch slam poetry – it’s the closest thing to a bar fight I’ll experience. On what was probably a Sunday afternoon I watched a slam poem by Rachel Rostad titled To J.K Rowling, From Cho Chang. She spat memorised lines to the audience full of wit and badassery – ‘Between me, Dean, and the Indian twins, Hogwarts has like five brown people!’

As a white girl I have the unearned privilege of being able to find myself in the culture I exist within. There’s no lack of representation when it comes to my skin colour – in film, TV, books, or Hogwarts. But that’s why there’s a flaw in me pretending that Hermione (as she’s traditionally presented) does leaps and bounds for intersectional feminism, or that the sideline existence of Cho Chang makes the series as accessible to Asian girls as it is to white girls.

Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Battle of Diversity”

“Wait and see”: What does Australia want?

At the end of June the United States was a rainbow light-show of joy. In Australia we watched on, the majority of us envious and somewhat embarrassed we couldn’t join in.

A while back I got the chance to speak with a couple of people about marriage equality in Australia. It had been less than a week since the Irish referendum, which had pushed the Australian government into an uncomfortable spotlight.

I wanted to know what the citizens of Australia would vote if given the chance, but Bill Shorten completely stole my thunder. While I was busy compiling a list of people to talk to, Shorten announced his plan to introduce a same-sex marriage bill to parliament.

Continue reading ““Wait and see”: What does Australia want?”