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December 26, 2009

Will the Neutralino steal the science spotlight in 2010?

2010 preview: Will a neutralino steal Higgs's thunder? - physics-math - 26 December 2009 - New Scientist
The world's biggest experiment is primed to answer one of the universe's biggest questions: what is the origin of mass? But an unexpected particle could yet steal the show. In CERN's 27-kilometre tunnel near Geneva, Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider will start smashing high-energy protons head-on in 2010. The shrapnel is expected to reveal the presence of the one missing member of the tribe of particles predicted by the standard model of physics: the Higgs boson, which is thought to endow elementary particles with mass. But the Higgs is unlikely to emerge during the year, as its telltale traces will be hard to spot amidst the complex debris left by the proton collisions. Instead a different particle might hog the headlines: the neutralino. No one has ever seen one, but it is predicted by the theory of supersymmetry, which fixes many problems that plague the standard model. Supersymmetry doubles the number of elementary particles, adding one heavier super-partner for each standard-model particle. All supersymmetric particles produced in the early universe would have long since decayed into the lightest such particle, the neutralino. And the neutralino, it turns out, is a perfect candidate to account for dark matter - the mysterious stuff that far outweighs ordinary matter in the universe.

December 24, 2009

"There comes a time in every science writer’s career when one must write about glass duck vaginas and explosive duck penises."

Kinkiness Beyond Kinky | The Loom | Discover Magazine
There comes a time in every science writer’s career when one must write about glass duck vaginas and explosive duck penises. That time is now. To err on the side of caution, I am stuffing the rest of this post below the fold. My tale is rich with deep scientific significance, resplendent with surprising insights into how evolution works, far beyond the banalities of “survival of the fittest,” off in a realm of life where sexual selection and sexual conflict work like a pair sculptors drunk on absinthe, transforming biology into forms unimaginable. But this story is also accompanied with video. High-definition, slow-motion duck sex video. And I would imagine that the sight of spiral-shaped penises inflating in less than a third of second might be considered in some quarters to be not exactly safe for work. It’s certainly not appropriate for ducklings. . . .

December 23, 2009

San Andreas fault yanked by moon, sun

Sun, moon tug at San Andreas fault
Water under extremely high pressure apparently acts as a lubricant for the rock, allowing even the smallest stresses to cause a measurable slippage. "For the first time we're getting a picture of what's going on beneath where earthquakes are happening," said Robert Nadeau of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, one of the authors of a report appearing Thursday in the journal Nature. "This is information from a region we've been virtually blind to in the past." Unlike earthquakes, which can be large and generally short-lived jolts, the non-volcanic tremors deep underground may last for many tens of minutes at the level of a magnitude one earthquake, making them detectable only with sensitive instruments.

December 17, 2009

Science: High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You

Study Shows High Fructose Corn Syrup May Cause Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease - The Consumerist
A University of California study on human subjects seems to indicate what food activists have long believed: high fructose corn syrup has special qualities which cause humans to pork up like animals in a feed lot. Oh, and it also may help cause life-threatening chronic diseases. The study was small, but frightening. “ Over 10 weeks, 16 volunteers on a strictly controlled diet, including high levels of fructose, produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs. They also showed signs of food-processing abnormalities linked to diabetes and heart disease. Another group of volunteers on the same diet, but with glucose sugar replacing fructose, did not have these problems. People in both groups put on a similar amount of weight. However, researchers at the University of California who conducted the trial, said the levels of weight gain among the fructose consumers would be greater over the long term.