A video accidentally published on the CERN website appears to leak the long-awaited discovery of the Higgs boson that is rumored to be officially announced early tomorrow morning.“We’ve observed a new particle. We have quite strong evidence that there’s something there. Its properties are still going to take us a little bit of time,” Joe Incandela, spokesman for the CMS experiment, one of the main Higgs-searching experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, said in the video. “We think this is pretty darned significant.”
Spring has sprung! But… what does it all mean? Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, takes it home:
Outside of astronomy, the equinox isn’t that big of a deal. There are lots of ways of looking at it, but perhaps the easiest is to say that it’s when the Sun rises due east and sets due west. It also means day and night are the same length, but that gets complicated: the Earth’s air bends the light from the Sun so that we see it before it physically rises over the horizon and can still see it after it physically sets, adding a couple of minutes to the length of daylight. Another way to think of the equinox is that it’s when the center of the Sun’s disk is at the point on the sky where the Ecliptic the path of the Sun on the sky over the year intersects the Celestial Equator the Earth’s equator projected onto the sky.
I explain all this stuff in various earlier posts I’ve made on the equinoctes which is the correct plural of equinox, it turns out. See Related Posts below.One thing the equinox does not not NOT NOT mean is that you can balance ungainly objects on their ends on this day! This used to mean egg standing — more on that in a sec — but for reasons beyond my ability to parse the newest version of this involves standing brooms on their bristles. Don’t believe me? Here’s a gallery of people doing it. I’ve been hearing a lot about this, but it has nothing to do with the equinox or the recent solar activity, another odd idea that’s going around. It’s actually a simply matter of center of mass and flat bristles. Honestly, it’s not more mysterious than standing a brick up. Here’s a good video explanation of it.
From Phil Plait:
1 Last week, I posted the results from studies showing 2011 was the 9th hottest year on record. Forbes online has more information on this. They take a different tack on it, but get the same results I do: the Earth is warming up, and humans are why.
2 Some very welcome news: the National Center for Science Education — who for years have been at the forefront of battling creationists getting their “curriculum” into schools — is adding climate change to their syllabus. At that link they have well-written descriptions of the problem, how to teach about climate change, and how take action against denialism.
Nine of the ten hottest years on record have been since 2000.
The map below shows changes from average (where the average is from 1951 to 1980). You see clearly that temperatures over land have increased almost universally. Most of the ocean temperatures have gone up as well; the one big cooler region in the eastern Pacific is due to the La Niña last year, so it’s a temporary effect. Even with La Niña dropping temperatures, the overall effect is an increase in temperature. I’ll note that sunspot numbers were low last year as well, which (if anything) should result in a (very) slight cooling effect too.
This summer will be a little bit longer than usual. A tiny little bit: one second, to be precise. The world’s official time keepers are adding a single second to the clocks at the end of June. This “leap second” is needed to keep various time scales in synch. It’s a bit of a pain and won’t really affect people much, but if it weren’t done things would get messy eventually.This gets a bit detailed — which is where the fun is! — but in short it goes like this. We have two systems to measure time: our everyday one which is based on the rotation of the Earth, and a fancy-schmancy scientific and precise one based on vibrations of atoms. The two systems aren’t quite in synch, though, since the Earth counts a day as a tiny bit longer than the atomic clocks say it is. So every now and again, to get them back together, we add a leap second on to the atomic clocks. That holds them back for one second, and then things are lined up once again.
Don’t worry, though… evolution is a lie!
This new fossil, complete except for its head, is only the eleventh Archaeopteryx skeleton ever discovered. Like every other, it was found in Germany. The first was a single feather, recognised 150 years ago, just two years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species. The bones and feathers are nearly as well preserved as those of the famed Berlin specimen, says the Oliver Rauhut, curator of the Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology and Geology. Some specimens are only partial, including one that palaeontologists have called the “chicken wing”.
Wow! I love science.
Superconductors hate magnetic fields when cold enough, and normally would just repel the magnetic force and float in a wobbly fashion. But because the superconductor is so thin in this case, tiny imperfections allow some magnetic forces through. These little magnetic channels are called flux tubes:The flux tubes cause the magnetic field to be “locked” in all three dimensions, which is why the disk remains in whatever position it starts in, levitating around the magnets.