The Higgs boson is a long-sought subatomic particle that is thought to explain why all particles have mass. After the big bang 13.7 billion years ago, scientists believe particles existed without mass and that they became heavier due to the Higgs field.
There are experiments conducted at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, which involve beams containing billions of particles smashing each other within a vacuum, and the results are then recorded.
Scientists at CERN have found a new subatomic particle, which appears to be the Higgs boson. More detailed studies now have to be conducted, pinning down the particle’s properties. For some, there is no doubt that the particle found is the one thought of by Higgs.
“As a layman, I would say I think we have it. Would you agree?” said Rolf Heuer, the director general at CERN.
Watch this video for a detailed (and somewhat amusing) explanation.
CMB - or ‘Cosmic Microwave Background’ - is the thermal radiation filling the observable Universe - the echo of the start of the Universe. Currently, we can see 380,000 years after ‘The Big Bang’; that’s around 13.37 billion years ago!
It is the radiation left over from an early stage in the development of the Universe; when the Universe was young, before even stars and planets, it was a lot smaller and a lot hotter, filled with a glow and a fog of hydrogen plasma. As it expanded, both grew cool enough that protons and electrons could form neutral atoms, and so did not absorb the radiation. This meant the Universe became transparent instead of being an opaque fog.
The glow is nearly uniform in all directions, but the tiny variations show a pattern which is equal to what would be expected of a hot gas that has expanded to the current size of the universe. From the data taken, a map of the Universe is formed; the WMAP image.
Did you know: there is thought to be a missing planet where the asteroid belt is!
The Titius-Bode Law is a formula which correctly predicts the distances of planets from the sun, when the subsequent factor of two is entered into the formula:
a = 0.4 + 0.3 x k
This works brilliantly, apart from the fact that it appears there should be a planet between Mars and Jupiter - right where the asteroid belt is. It was thought at one point there there may have been a planet there which was destroyed by a collision, but now it is assumed that the gravity from Jupiter, prevented a planet forming from the fragments of the belt.
Did you know: Apple deleted an entire galaxy!
The source of Apple’s famous wallpaper is a picture of the Andromeda galaxy, but they photoshopped out several smaller galaxies, including the M110, just to clean it up a bit!
Did you know: Comets are actually made of ice.
Their bright tails of light happen when the comet approaches the inner Solar System and solar radiation causes the materials within to leave the nucleus. Along with dust and and gas, these cause an atmosphere around the comet. This is what is visible from Earth, reflecting the light of the Sun; it is not in fact the comet that you see, it is actually its atmosphere.
Scientists are trying to work out the number of galaxies in the whole of our universe, and so far they have surveyed about 3% of our sky. They have found around 3 million galaxies in that section of the sky, so if the number of galaxies is the same around the whole of the sky, there is around a hundred million galaxies in the universe.
There are around a hundred million stars in a galaxy.
So, this means that there are around a hundred million galaxies, in each of which are a hundred million stars. This means there are 10,000,000,000,000 (or ten quadrillion) stars in the universe. Each star has “on average … at least 1.6 planets.”
That’s 16,000,000,000,000 (16 quadrillion) planets out there. And people say we’re the only ones to exist.
There’s actually something called the Drake Equation which estimates the number of extraterrestrial civilisations in just our Milky Way galaxy, and you can find more information about that here.
For my Physics coursework, I get to chose whatever material I want and do a presentation on it. So I’ve chosen aerogel, which I think is a completely bizarre and brilliant material; it’s the densest solid in the world, the best insulator, and it’s used on the Mars Rover for thermal insulation, and on the Stardust dust collector to trap space dust particles.
If anyone has $4000 lying about and wants to buy me a pair of these, that would be fine. They’re Limited Edition 2011 Nike Mags, AKA replicas of the Nikes from Back To The Future 2. 150 pairs have been made and they’re selling them on eBay, with all the profits going to Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s charity. You can watch the trailer for them here, which features the Doc.
Only problem is they don’t power lace ‘til 2015.
This is an infrared picture of the galaxy. It’s 300 billion light years across. Scientists can zoom into the centre of the galaxy, and see high velocity stars orbiting a dark space, showing the location of a black hole. It’s hot gas orbiting a massive black hole (called an accretion disk), and so the light coming from that region shows astronomers precisely where the black holes are. A few pixels on your computer screen cover an area 27 million miles across, and the black hole they orbit is 4 million times the weight of our own sun.
This is why I want to take astrophysics. Because I want to try and understand stuff which no one has yet to understand. I want to find out the very meaning of our world; what made it, why it came to be and exactly what is in everything. It’s literally going to the edges of the universe.
I mean, evolution is fact now, right? When we’re in school, we’re taught that evolution happened. Not that it ‘might have happened’ or that it ‘probably happened’. It did happen. Like the grass is green and we breathe air.
We know that evolution is fact because of science, right? So how long before we can say ‘the big bang is fact’ because of science? Religious people can still say that God created the big bang or whatever, but the truth is that the earth was not created in 7 days 3000 years ago, seeing as it’s most definitely at least 13.7 million years old…
If you look at research done by the COBE and with the Hubble Space Telescope, it’s fascinating, because they really are on the way to being able to say how the universe was created, what it is created from and all the conditions that were around at the start of the universe.
I watched a video on youtube by the darling Brian Cox chatting about what he does at the LHC, and it was really phenomenal to hear what they actually do there. I mean all that was really heard in the news about it last year was the ‘end of the world’ and ‘black holes’ and nobody really seemed to know what it was about. But they literally have created a sum whereby if they find out the final element which was around at the start of the universe, they could literally find out what anything is made up of. And that’s just like, out of this world. If you’re interested, the video is here.
I mean, people may say that we ‘don’t need to know how the world was created’ or that we need ‘faith’ or whatever, but I think a quote from the marvellous Stephen Hawking is in order here.
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.”
And I totally agree with him. We may not need to know, and some people might not want to know, but those who do; well, it’s fucking awesome.