This past week was an LHC-fest in the world of science, and Nobel Intent was no exception. The collider switched on, and the detectors within caught the first sprays of particles triggered by protons running into the infrastructure. Apocalyptic visions remain on hold until the collider revs up to produce collisions that will be lower energy than things the universe does every day. While waiting, you can entertain and enlighten yourself with the LHC Rap or the soothing sounds of our own Matt Ford, who did a fantastic job of talking LHC on talk radio.
A subset of the apocalyptic visions focus on mini-black holes created in the collider, and the attention has apparently resurrected a story from May 2007, in which we contemplated the physics of these potential gravity wells. Apparently, Chris Lee was well ahead of the news curve there.
One of nature's own particle accelerators forms in the area of space near the origin of a black hole in a supernova. One such particle jet pointed directly at us, or, rather where the earth would be over 7 billion years later. Despite being in flight for three billion years before the earth even formed, the event was so powerful that the light was visible to the naked eye when it finally reached earth in March. I don't know about the rest of you, but my mind is boggled by that.
But it's not all physics, all the time at NI. Our most popular story this week was about dinosaurs. Despite dominating the earth for millions of years, this group of animals had an inauspicious start, in which they shared the earth for 30 million years with a diverse and successful group of relatives of the modern crocodile. Much like the mammals, dinosaurs seemed to catch a lucky break when they made it through a mass extinction in better shape than their competitors.
Other popular stories from the live sciences include a description of the first virus that apparently makes a living by taking over the proteins that another virus uses to make copies of itself. The bacteria that cause problems by infecting us humans were the focus of a series of talks that focused on ways to deal with drug resistance by avoiding infections in the first place.
An assortment of crurotarsan skulls.
Image: Stephen Brusatte, Columbia University.
Human evolution took center stage as researchers identify a piece of regulatory DNA, called an enhancer, that helps direct gene expression to the thumb side of human hands as they develop (as well as the big toe side of the foot), but doesn't work the same in other primates. Despite the fact that the sequence was identified based on indications of its importance, most of the press persisted in calling it junk.
Other stories in the news:
For when a vinaigrette won't cut it, researchers have figured out how to make a water-in-oil-in-water (WOW) emulsion.Don't want the salad? Try a carbon nanotube soup.How many megapixels can the brain handle? Apparently, a lot.
Check back next week for more science, assuming that the world continues not to end.Posted on