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.
November 17, 2011 |
Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a physicist, not a politician, but he was unflappable under attack from Republicans and refused to apologize for a $535-million loan guarantee given to now-bankrupt solar equipment maker Solyndra. In his first appearance before Congress since the Solyndra controversy broke nearly three months ago, Chu firmly pushed back against allegations that political favoritism and bureaucratic incompetence led his agency to approve the Solyndra loan guarantee. "Was there incompetence?"
November 2, 2011 |
Science, which is confusing to many people — some to the point that they regard it as a form of superstition — has always needed its champions, its spokespersons, its interpreters, big brains who also function efficiently as celebrities and have a knack for taking impossible-sounding theories and making them sound, at least for the moment they're speaking, comprehensible. Here comes Brian Greene, again. (He is TV's favorite theoretical physicist.) Like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking before him, Greene — whose "The Fabric of the Cosmos" begins a four-week run Wednesday in the framework of the PBS series "Nova" — is both mediagenic and a working scientist.
October 1, 2011 |
After smashing atoms together for 26 years, the Tevatron particle accelerator powered down on Friday. The 4-mile-long ring-shaped accelerator, located at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., was built to hurl tiny bits of matter at each other in the hopes that they would break apart into the basic building blocks of the universe. Though the Tevatron made major discoveries, it became essentially obsolete after the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva began conducting experiments in 2009.
September 23, 2011 |
Albert Einstein had the idea. A century of observations have backed it up. It's one of the cornerstones of physics: Nothing travels faster than the speed of light. But now a team of experimental physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, says that one exotic particle possibly can. The scientists reached their conclusion after sending streams of tiny, subatomic particles called neutrinos hurtling from an accelerator at CERN outside Geneva to a detector at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy, about 450 miles away.