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November 30, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
The Particle at the End of the Universe How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World Sean Carroll Dutton: 352 pp., $27.95 On July 4, 2012, at the CERN laboratory in Geneva - home to the massive particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC - two groups of physicists announced the discovery of a new elementary particle, the Higgs boson. Widely known as "the God particle," the Higgs is important, on the most basic level, for giving other subatomic particles mass.
October 5, 2012 | Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
Robert F. Christy, a physicist who was a key member of the Manhattan Project team that created the atomic bomb during World War II, died Wednesday at his Pasadena home. He was 96. Christy, who spent 40 years as a Caltech professor and administrator, died of natural causes, the university announced. In 1943, he joined the hundreds of scientists working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M., to develop the nuclear bomb. He was hand-picked by project director J. Robert Oppenheimer, with whom Christy had studied quantum mechanics at UC Berkeley.
July 13, 2012 | By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
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 | Eryn Brown
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 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
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 | By Eryn Brown and Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
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 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
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.
March 14, 2012 | By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
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 | By Deborah Netburn
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 | By Sara Lippincott, Special to the Los Angeles Times
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.
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