CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 13, 2012 |
Launching a new college would "clearly be a great adventure but so is jumping off a bridge," physicist Joseph B. Platt wrote decades after accepting the challenge in 1956 to become the founding president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. Humor was a continual resource for Platt, known for singing silly scientific ditties to teach his students, but so was consensus building. His ability to lead by suggestion helped him place the school "on a road to success," according to George I. McKelvey, director of development when the school opened in 1957.
July 5, 2012 |
For physicists, it was a moment like landing on the moon or the discovery of DNA. The focus was the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that exists for a mere fraction of a second. Long theorized but never glimpsed, the so-called God particle is thought to be key to understanding the existence of all mass in the universe. The revelation Wednesday that it -- or some version of it -- had almost certainly been detected amid more than hundreds of trillions of high-speed collisions in a 17-mile track near Geneva prompted a group of normally reserved scientists to erupt with joy. Peter Higgs, one of the scientists who first hypothesized the existence of the particle, reportedly shed tears as the data were presented in a jampacked and applause-heavy seminar at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
July 4, 2012 |
In a culmination of 50 years of theoretical speculation and three weeks of intense media frenzy, two teams of researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research said they had independently discovered evidence for a "Higgs-like" boson, the long-sought elementary particle that gives mass to the universe. To thunderous applause from a standing-room-only crowd of physicists and journalists gathered in a large auditorium at CERN, as the organization is generally called -- as well as from other groups of physicists around the world watching by webcast -- the leaders of the two teams said they had definitely observed a boson, that it is a Higgs boson, and that it might be the Higgs boson that has been the subject of their frantic search.
July 4, 2012 |
Scientists continue to celebrate the announcement Wednesday that in all probability, the long-sought Higgs boson - a.k.a. the “God particle” - has been detected at a European atom-smasher outside Geneva. For the physics community as a whole, it's a confirmation of its theories about why there is mass in the universe. For one particular physicist, it means that a payoff of rare chocolate coins is in the offing. In 2005, MIT physicists Frank Wilczek and Janet Conrad made a friendly wager.
June 27, 2012 |
Physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have smashed gold ions together to produce a quark-gluon plasma like that which existed in the first instant after the Big Bang that created the universe, and in doing so have produced what Guinness World Records says is the highest man-made temperature ever, 7.2 trillion degrees. That is about 250,000 times hotter than the temperature at the core of the sun. Quarks are the elementary particles from which all other particles, including protons, neutrons and electrons, are made.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 14, 2012 |
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, who has led the prestigious campus since 2004 through state budget cuts, Nobel Prizes and campus protests, announced Tuesday that he would step down Dec. 31. A Canadian-born physicist who is turning 70 this month, Birgeneau said he has stayed on the job longer than he originally anticipated because he wanted to leave the campus in stable financial shape. Although funding challenges remain, Birgeneau told reporters Tuesday that he "didn't want to step down until I was comfortable that we'd reached some kind of equilibrium with our budget.
February 22, 2012 |
German physicist Heinrich Hertz has been honored with his very own wavy Google Doodle on what would have been his 155th birthday. In case you aren't sure just what old Heinrich is responsible for, here is a hint: The metric unit Hertz (Hz), which stands for the number of cycles per second of any kind of phenomena, and is frequently used to describe radio and audio waves, is named after him. Noticing a wAvY theme here? PHOTOS: Google Doodles 2012 Hertz, who was born on Feb. 22 in 1857, was the first person to conclusively prove the existence of electromagnetic waves back in the late 1880s, and it was his experiments with electromagnetic waves that paved the way for the invention of radio, television and radar -- what we now know as the “wireless age.” Amazingly, he did all of this before his death at the age of 36 from Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare disease that results in the inflammation of the blood vessels.
January 8, 2012 |
Stephen Hawking An Unfettered Mind Kitty Ferguson Palgrave Macmillan: 320 pp., $27 Today is Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday. It's an event worth marking, not least for its profound unlikelihood. As many even outside the physics community know, he learned about 50 years ago that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease). He was given two years to live. However, at the time he was just coming into his own as a theoretical physicist, and he couldn't be bothered to die. Kitty Ferguson, a graduate of Juilliard and author of this intelligent and readable biography, "Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind," is astonishing in her own right.
December 23, 2011 |
Who hasn't caught a snowflake in a mitten and marveled at its star-like detail, and then recalled that no two snowflakes are alike? But these crystals of ice are even more varied than one might imagine — there are needle-like snowflakes, hollow-column snowflakes and flakes that look like delicate dumbbells, with two joined together by a column. Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht, who studies the crystalline structure of snowflakes and has published seven books of snowflake photographs, talked to The Times about what we do, and don't, know about them.
December 13, 2011 |
Physicists announced Tuesday that they had detected "tantalizing hints," but not definitive proof, of the long-sought Higgs boson, the so-called God particle that is crucial to physicists' understanding of why mass exists in the universe. Two large teams of scientists based at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva separately saw what they believe are telltale tracks of the maddeningly elusive particle in the aftermath of about 400 trillion proton collisions carried out since January.