Higgs Boson Sweetly Explained
Big news in the science community this past week about discovery of the Higgs boson particle [general readers may be more familiar with this as "The God Particle,' a term that raises the hackles of many scientists]. While the folks at CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), are being cautious and saying it's too soon to know for sure, the discovery is exciting physicists around the globe.
And just what is this li'l particle that's making them jump for joy? As THE NEW YORK TIMES describes it:
According to the Standard Model, the Higgs boson is the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass...Without the Higgs field, as it is known, or something like it, all elementary forms of matter would zoom around at the speed of light, flowing through our hands like moonlight. There would be neither atoms nor life.
So yes, it's a big friggin' deal!
For those of us who want to know more but don't have a string of letters after our name or spent most of science class flirting with the guy behind us, Guardian science correspondent Ian Sample explains what a Higgs boson is, how Cern physicists are looking for it, and why it matters if they find it. And he does it all with very sophisticated tools: ping pong balls, sugar and a cafeteria tray. After watching, I wasn't sure if I should go bake cookies or dig out my set of paddles and get ready to serve...
The Grateful Sounds of the Universe
I am definitely NOT a Deadhead. In fact, my musical taste (or lack thereof) could almost be described as the complete opposite of the Grateful Dead: Jersey rock (think ROCK OF AGES soundtrack), Top 40 dance tunes and Broadway musicals. However, when I read this post on Open Culture about Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's latest project, I finally found a set of tunes for which I'd be willing to take a road trip.
On his new record MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM, Hart used "cosmic sounds" composed in outer space to create the tracks. As described on the site:
To make music like this, you need some unusual collaborators. Hart went to NASA, Penn State, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working with scientists like George Smoot, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics with John C. Mather. They helped convert light, radio waves, and other electromatic radiation into sound waves that Hart and his band could put to musical use.
For a sampling of "the songs our universe sings," you can watch below in the recording of the Madrone Studios performance in San Francisco on 4/4/12. Gotta love it when a musician kicks off his set explaining that the piece he's about to play is based on "the sounds of the sun and some very deep star clusters."
Just have to give a shout out to Open Culture, which has the tagline "the best free cultural and educational media on the web." They constantly point me to coolness that I find myself wanting to share with y'all. If you like what I write about here, they are definitely a site to check out.
Internet Celebs in Commercials
As you may remember, I'm a big fan of well-done commercials (especially when I see them online instead of in the middle of my favorite TV programs). All sorts of creatures have been utilized in the selling of things, including scantily clad celebrities, gekkos, and funny ladies with headbands dressed in all white. But lately, internet-age celebs have been cropping up in commercials. And I don't mean YouTube stars - I mean the folks who actually created YouTube.
London agency Albion made this film for Code Club, a startup that teaches children coding after-school. In the spot, three savvy kids interview prospective employees for Code Club, including Tim Berners-Lee, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Skype's Niklas Zennstrom and Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane-Fox, founders of LastMinute.com, among others. And they're not exactly impressed...
The spot reminded me of the ad from Best Buy which debuted during the Superbowl. It features the inventors and Silicon Valley folk who are behind li'l things like the camera phone, Instagram and Square. It's quite a change from their 2011 Superbowl campaign, which featured Justin Bieber and Ozzie Osbourn.