13 March 2009

Science Friday!

Signing up for Twitter, I didn't really know what to expect. It's turned out mostly good - mostly amusing, somewhat connecting, and, when I'm lucky, legitimately informingative. And, of course, it's a total nerd-enabler.

Case in point: I follow NPR's Science Friday, @scifri, and today they filled my morning with all sorts of informative... information... about the elusive Higgs boson.

Turns out, as I learned from TBTL last night (well, two-nights-ago's show, but listening yesterday), the search for the Higgs boson is a big part of how/why the Large Hadron Collider got funded and built. CERN folks were running around all This is what we need to do to find the Higgs boson, and if we find that, we'll have unlocked the secrets to the world! but in Swedish. And then two hours after turning on, the LHC busted a gasket (or something) and went offline for several months.

Meanwhile, the good folks back at Fermilab in Illinois were, just the other day, like, Um, we're managing to figure this stuff out on our lower-energy equipment over here.

And so now we're all like, USA! USA! USA!

But, geek that I am, I didn't really know much about the Higgs boson. I guess I stopped really rabidly following advances in quantum physics when I hit my 20s or something. (Or when my subscription to Discover ran out - that actually might be it.) But so this morning, Science Friday totally came through, with a handful of articles that explain why this matters, and what's going on at Fermilab.

The short version: The theory goes that Higgs bosons are what give particles mass. If this is true, then we've pretty much nailed the Unified Theory. Word!

The longer versions, with explanations of how Higgs bosons give mass, what the Higgs field is, and how Fermilab kicks ass:

What the Higgs boson is and how it does its theoretical thang.

Higgs boson vs. Higgs field, and what Fermilab has to do with it.

Fermilab - USA! USA! USA!

A pretty picture (also more USA!)

So that's some of what Twitter is good for. Also, before it jumped the shark, I rather enjoyed LeWar.

1 comment:

anna said...

this is super cute. thanks for the physics synthesis!