Higgs special, with bows on
A particle not unlike the Higgs boson was discovered to rapturous applause. No really, a room full of people applauded like it was a sports game. It was brilliant. One guy said “I was overwhelmed by the data analysis” and started choking up a bit. We were two seconds away from someone chucking their panties at the boson and then fainting. Here’s a roundup of some coverage I liked:
- The Guardian’s Ian Sample predictably wrote some of the best pieces. Man knows his stuff, and writes like an angel. He is also responsible for the best Higgs explainer out there – an awesome video involving a tray, some ping pong balls and sugar. And you might also want to check out his book. (Sample’s explainer was so good that Jonathan Amos from the BBC shamelessly plagiarised it; the credit on that link was added after the fact). Actually, the Grauniad have a rather excellent all-round package about the discovery.
- For another exceptional Higgs explainer, try this video from PhD Comics. There’s also a good one at the Atlantic, inspired by a picnic.
- Tom Siegfried from ScienceNews analyses why the Higgs is important.
- Sean Carroll and the Cosmic Variance crew live-blogged the whole thing
- Jon Butterworth describes another physicist’s view: “Finally we have, beyond reasonable doubt, discovered something fundamentally new.”
- Boing Boing collects some of the other best coverage.
- Xeni Jardin rounded up some good jokes on Twitter (Warning: some of mine are in there)
- Alex Wild gives tips on how to photograph the Higgs Boson
- Best Higgs website ever
- I predicted that someone would put up a brainless poll asking punters about the significance of the Higgs. I was right
- These hipsters have no idea what the Higgs boson is.
Other top picks
If you care about science, you absolutely have to listen to Alice Bell’s wonderful 15-minute long speech on what science literacy really means and the joy of saying “I don’t know.” It’s witty, faultlessly delivered, and absolutely spot on. Or try here for non-UK people.
With typical wit, Sally Adee takes apart the nonsense of electrosmog. Bonus points for The Day Today reference
We can “deliver a clot-busting drug directly to a site where a clot is, without knowing where it is.” Very cool tech.
David Eagleman’s great essay on how our brains perceive time and why the time-as-river metaphor is dead.
A robot with a plutonium heart & rock-vaporising lasers will climb a Martian mountain. This interview, by Ross Andersen, is riveting, life-affirming, punching-the-air-for-humanity stuff.
Behold: the shadow of a single atom. AWESOME
Dave Hone has the best piece about Sciurimimus, the feathered dinosaur that does NOT mean that all dinosaurs had feathers
Meet the incredible colour-changing tortoise beetle, with its defensive anal fork. By Bec Crew.
Compelling: why low intelligence and the genetics of stupidity are the more interesting questions.
Genetics study reveals 79 potentially new species of sharks, rays. But it means that some existing species could be endangered-er.
Time-lapse of Earth from space. Buy huge TV, sit right up to it, put this on, pretend you’re Superman.
Behold the four-headed penis of the echidna.
Aw, dinky! Meet Bellubrunnus, the cutest pterosaur you’ll see all week.
6 people sue one of world’s largest stem cell companies for misleading them about effectiveness of stem cell treatments. They’re all called Lee, as is their lawyer. Only some are related.
Nat Geo Wild has basically decided it would be funny to teach baboons to raid human houses. It’s not funny, folks.
‘Made for PR’ neuroscience, by Vaughan Bell
“The fish with genitals on its head“.
Carl Zimmer has a new iPad app on evolution. And it’s free
Shameful. Normal cells are helping cancer cells to dodge chemo. Treacherous quislings!
Prejudiced people slowest to recognize faces from other races.
1 in 5 children will experiment with paleontology. As parents, you should know the signs
We can now sequence a foetus’s genome from just his mum’s blood
“The skull of a baby [Neanderthal] emerged from a photocopier-sized machine.” 3-D printers are revolutionising science
Indonesian zoo aims to stub out orangutan’s smoking habit
Antarctic moss grows on ancient penguin poo
Unusual Bridges For Animals – Wildlife Overpasses
Meet patients to get your motivation back
All the canned responses you’ll ever need to deal with the internet’s angry hordes.
If you liked my interview with Uri Simonsohn – the data detective behind a recent case of fraud in psychology – you might also like Martin Enserink’s coverage of the story, with reactions from other psychologists.
“Ladybird mimic” spider is all kinds of evil
Inadvertently funny headlines from the Dept of I Didn’t Know That
GM cotton in India -> larger yields, greater profits, better living standard for farmers
I’m sorry, did you say “spray-on rechargeable batteries“? You did! <rubs eyes>
My piece for The Scientist on nanoparticle-loaded moisturisers that could help to treat skin diseases by smuggling gene-silencing molecules into skin
New global network to track the acidification of the oceans
The rubber hand illusion transcends colour of skin. Bonus: lead scientist is called Manos.
Lego Turing machine can do anything your Macbook can (in theory).
Giant crocodile breaks size record [for captive crocs]
Oxytocin: is it really a trust hormone? (Spoiler: no) Maybe we should choose who to trust
Carl Zimmer tries out some “brain drinks“, grows Leader-brain and goes on a rampa… oh, wait. Nothing happened.
Do people go on at you about left-brain-right-brain bollocks? Show then this piece.
Best weather forecast ever.
10 stunning animated GIFs that will restore your faith in GIFs
Do you want an “accessible, non-technical” intro to angular momentum? Wikipedia, er, apparently has you covered. NOW YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.
The Higgs Boson news was almost eclipsed by this groundbreaking paper about… er… Big Bosoms.
FORGET THE HIGGS! This was the story of the decade.
US forced to deny existence of mermaids. Sigh.
This Onion article nicely sums up how I feel about most “science literacy” discussions.
The very first video of a human birth seen in an MRI. See the part where the baby goes back in for a bit? Yep. Betcha didn’t know that could happen.
Most thrilling obituary you’ll read this year: Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld. Or “The Dread Count Robert” to his friends.
Very clear explanation of the Barclays LIBOR scandal by Sunny Hundal.
Nature wins its libel case against Mohamed El Naschie.
Columnist fired for churnalism, sues ex-employer. Glad to see more people are realising that churnalising PR copy is just institutionalised plagiarism.
Disguising Swiss military installations behind rocks
The Oatmeal wins its ridiculous clash with Charles Carreon
Storify of a debate from the UK Conference of Science Journalists about whether science journalism is special compared to other beats.
Facebook rolls out new icons for same-sex marriage
Maybe we should stop calling smartphones phones. I call mine “Master”.
Western writers expect plots to centre on conflict. It doesn’t have to be so