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 



LSD, the Brain, and Aldous Huxley

It’s Christmas Eve, 1955, and renowned writer and intellectual Aldous Huxley is on LSD. He reports his findings in his book The Doors of Perception:

“Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”

Since LSD was synthesized in 1938, the world hasn’t exactly been deprived of first person accounts of its effects (see: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles, or this subreddit).

However up until April 11, 2016 the world was deprived of something pretty major: modern scans of the brain high on LSD.

Read the full article on Herpthesis


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


Science Camp: The Alvarez Hypothesis

Week Two: A Distrust of Received Wisdom

As a kid I had, as New Scientist would call it, a “distrust of received wisdom.” In early school I sat at the back of classrooms quietly sceptical, watching teacher after teacher strut in front of the blackboard. Sure my teachers were much older than me. They ate their dinner with proper cutlery and stood at the head of the classroom with the chalk. But I praised myself for my common sense. So at the age of seven, sitting in the school library with a book about dinosaurs, I had a real bone to pick with my Year 2 teacher.

The Alvarez Hypothesis suggests that an asteroid hit the Earth about 66 million years ago, marking the end of the Cretaceous period and bringing about the demise of every single curiously colourful dinosaur in the book I was holding.

It all sounded rather dramatic to me. If I hadn’t been so shy, if I’d been even a year and a half older, I would’ve asked: Shouldn’t there be more to it?

Yes seven-year-old me. Yes there was.


Continue reading “Science Camp: The Alvarez Hypothesis”

Science Camp: Gravitational Waves

Week One: Follow the Happy Scientists

It’s September 14, 2015 in Hannover, Germany — 11AM to be exact — and a man named Marco Drago has just noticed something. Marco is a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, and he’s just observed a gravitational wave (hurrah!).

But why are the scientific community FREAKING OUT about these things six months after the initial observation? Well, like all good scientists, they had to check — and recheck, and RECHECK, and RECHECK, until LIGO confirmed the discovery. They were sure.

Director of the National Science Foundation said, “Einstein would be beaming, wouldn’t he?” (Science Mag)

I find that my motto in life has become: follow the happy scientists, they’re sure to lead you somewhere good. This is the most buzzed I’ve seen the scientific community since the Higgs Boson. It’s magic.

So here I am — let’s learn about gravitational waves (INSERT CATCHY THEME SONG)!!!

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“Science & arts create values, everything else is politics & destruction”

I’m not sure if any of this will make sense; I’m just trying to figure out if I believe the only positive constructions to come of our consciousness is art and science. I’m thinking I do. The people we remember and appraise are scientists, artists, and people that are willing to fight against destruction and politics. So art, science, and rebels. Those are the products of our consciousness that I am proud of.