Why Society Needs Astronomy and Cosmology

‘One day, Sir, you may tax it’: Faraday’s prescient quip when quizzed about the practical value of electricity in 1850 neatly demonstrates that advanced societies cannot afford to stifle scientific curiosity for its own sake – a powerful if serendipitous driver of technological and societal progress. It will be argued that fundamental research into astronomy, […]

News Round-up: Higgs (probably), Dark Matter’s skeleton, Private Asteroid Detective, TV-Powered GPS, Libel Dismissed

Higgs boson found … probably Image: CERN Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have announced the discovery of a new elementary particle consistent with the Higgs boson. The announcement, given to a packed auditorium at CERN and broadcast live over the Internet, was met with standing ovations from scientists across the world. Although […]

A New Particle – But is it Higgs?

CERN announces discovery of new particle – but is it Higgs? Earlier this morning, physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva announced that they had discovered a new particle. At this stage, the characteristics of this particle appear to be in-keeping with what we would expect to observe if it were the […]

5 Space Breakthroughs of 2011

With the New Year comes the inevitable question of resolutions – how will you better yourself in 2012? The familiar answers of getting fit, losing weight, saving money and the like are a bit jaded, although surprisingly resolutions have been proven to make a huge difference to how we accomplish our desired goals. With this […]

The Arrow of Time (Part 1)

The Thermodynamic “Arrow of Time” in Physics (And to a Lesser Extent, in Snooker) PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 He reached toward the ash tray on the desk, selected the shortest – and hence best – cigarette butt, dabbed it against the ceramic surface until it began to burn, then lifted it […]

Video: Edible CERN

In the build-up to CERN’s announcement tomorrow, I, Science is going Higgs mad! Here is a great stop-start animation from a group of Science Communication students explaining exactly how the Large Hadron Collider works – proof that we found it first! Credit to Peter Larkin, Harriet Jarlett, Heather Cruickshank, Sam Cavenagh, Kelly Oakes, Georgia Bladon, Antonio Torrisi, and Dharshani Weerasekera. Music: Yann […]

1932: Physics goes ‘Anti’ – Part I

The word “anti” comes from ancient Greek, which literally translates as “against” or “opposite to” and nowadays is very commonly used in many contexts from social-politics (anti-social, anti-capitalism) to medicine (antibiotics, antidepressive) and even religion (Antichrist). In 1932 “anti” prefix officially entered in the world of physical science. Carl Anderson in Pasadena, California, had started […]

The Elusive Element 118

This is the first of  a series of posts looking back at the science news of 10 years ago. Read on to see how much things have changed (or perhaps how much they haven’t). In August 1999 Physical Review Letters, one of the most prestigious journals in physics, published a report from a US team […]

Round, round, get around, I get around

Electrons are really, really, really round, according to research conducted by Imperial College scientists. The research, which was published in the journal Nature and took over ten years to complete, found that the electron differs from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm. This means that if the electron was magnified to the size […]

Proofing the pudding

For something so small, it’s not shy of a big theory. In fact, the atom and its activity have a long history in the world of theoretical science, punctuated by the ideas of many a perplexed physicist. The birth of atomic theory takes us way, way back to ancient Greek times. Here, Democritus (460–370 BC), […]

Lurking in the dark

Science has a long-standing tradition of making more powerful microscopes, detectors and other instruments in its quest for greater understanding. From the first suggestion of the existence of atoms, to the high-energy probing taking place at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) today, it is clear that science aims to unearth the absolute foundations of nature […]

Terror in the heavens

Earth-engulfing black holes, continent-crushing asteroids, crop-cremating supernovae. Sounds like science-fiction, or at worst the rant of a lunatic – and largely you’d be right. Not that these things don’t happen, it’s just that they’re extraordinarily rare and you’re probably better off minding that car screeching past you than worrying about our collective planetary plight; after […]