Is the search for the long sought Higgs boson particle, the most elusive so far for the particle physicists, finally over?
“As a layman, I would now say, I think we have it,” said CERN director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer. “It’s a historic milestone today. I think we can all be proud, all be happy.”
John Ellis,theoretical physicist, answers the question "What is the Higgs boson?" in preparation for the press conference following the seminar on LHC 2012 results on the Higgs boson search at CERN.
At a seminar held at CERN -- the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's leading laboratory for particle physics -- as a curtain raiser to the year’s major particle physics conference in Melbourne, the results of ATLAS and CMS experiments, based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, with the 2012 data still under analysis, were announced, reporting a boson that has Higgs-like properties at a mass of 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) with a 5-sigma significance, meaning they are 99.999 percent confident of its existence:
“We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, “but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.”
"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."
“It’s hard not to get excited by these results,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “ We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what we’re seeing in the data.”
The name Higgs Boson came from a British scientist Peter Higgs and Satyendra Nath Bose, who worked with Albert Einstein in the 1920s, and had studied at Presidency College, Calcutta. The work done by Bose and Albert Einstein, later added by Higgs, led to this pioneering day.
Paolo Giubellino, spokesperson of CERN said that "India is like a historic father of the project." A large number of Indian scientists, representing the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics(SINP), Kolkata, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Harishchandra Research Institute, Allahabad and Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar, were involved in the world's most ambitious experiment over the years. Read more about the Indian Angle here and here
The Higgs boson, or the 'God particle' as it has come to be called was once described in a 1993 research paper as the 'Goddamn particle' by Nobel winning physicist Leon Lederman because it had proved so elusive and hard to isolate. That was changed by an editor to the “God” particle to make it more palatable, and the name has remained stuck.
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Image Courtesy: Mitticool
Jyoti Pande Lavakare in the Business Standard:
Imagine a refrigerator that runs without electricity, keeps your perishables cool for five to seven days and costs you less than the price of a single meal for one person in a luxury hotel. It’s cool, it’s green and it’s affordable for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. But despite being around for seven years in a poor, tropical country like India, only 4,000 units have been sold so far (including to Africa, Dubai and America). Even today, not many of us know about the eco-friendly Mitticool refrigerator, and if I wanted to buy one myself, I still wouldn’t be able to get it at my local store — it would have to be couriered to me from a tiny village near Rajkot.
Mitticool is built with clay, ingeniously designed by Mansukhlal Raghavjibhai Prajapati, the son of a potter in rural Gujarat, using the same principle of cooling through evaporation that a surahi uses. He has also created a clay water-filter with a 0.9 micron candle (which costs Rs 400), a clay pressure cooker (Rs 350) and a non-stick tawa (Rs 100). And on April 1, he will launch a tandoori roti maker for Rs 250, so that we needn’t depend on the local dhaba for our occasional fix.
Read on at the Business Standard
Link courtesy pragmatic_d
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Image courtesy Frits Bonjernoor
In a series on the neuroscience behind visual illusions, Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik in the Scientific American:
Our face-detection neural machinery can be overloaded. There’s a man’s face hidden in this image. But before we spill the beans about its location, look around and see if you can find it yourself. It’s difficult! Don’t give up too quickly: finding the face may take you a few minutes the first time you look. But once you have seen it, you will always find it immediately in every subsequent search.
Give up? Check out the Scientific American for where to find it and for 9 more such illusions
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When the Sony Walkman was launched, 30 years ago, it started a revolution in portable music. But how does it compare with its digital successors? The BBC Magazine invited a 13-year-old S to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week:
When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.
As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."
My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.
In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.
It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.
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