Khalil A. Cassimally is the community manager of Nature Education and SciLogs.com. He's also a
Yes, there are some links to Higgs boson-related articles in this blog post. And we’re also going to Lindau, Germany for the 62nd Lindau Meeting. But there’s more: the largest meteorite crater has been found, science behind record-breaking heat, bears behave differently when hunters are on their trail…
Two pieces from Douglas Main, science writer, for OurAmazingPlanet featured here. In an article picked up by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, Douglas writes about the discovery of possibly the oldest and largest meteorite crater on Earth. In another article, he dives into the science behind the unusually hot temperatures across the US.
World’s Oldest Meteorite Crater Found in Greenland
A study of Greenland’s rocks may have turned up something unexpected: the oldest and largest meteorite crater ever found on Earth. Researchers think the crater was formed 3 billion years ago, making it the oldest ever found, said Danish researcher Adam Garde. The impact crater currently measures about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from one side to another. But before it eroded, it was likely more than 310 miles (500 km) wide, which would make it the biggest on Earth, Garde told OurAmazingPlanet.
What’s Behind The Record Heat?
Heat is beating records around the country: the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the contiguous United States. And that’s not including June, when 164 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken around the country, according to government records. That’s unusual, since the most intense heat usually comes in July and August for much of the country, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with National Climatic Data Center. For example, only 47 all-time high records were tied or broken in June of last year.
Rachel Nuwer, freelance journalist, has a fascinating post in The New York Times’ Green blog about bear psychology, if you will. More specifically, Rachel writes about a research carried out in Sweden which speculates that bears alter their behaviour when they know humans are on their trail. I do tend to agree with this comment left on the blog post: “This is not in any way to demean the science that is the basis for this article but just how stupid do we think these animals are?”
Do Bears Sense That Hunters Are Afoot?
Alpha predators like bears, wolves and mountain lions are used to calling the shots in nature. But when humans arrive with guns and hounds, this hierarchy is displaced in more ways than one. Obviously, hunting costs animal lives, but some researchers also speculate that a hunter’s presence reverberates in other ways, too, changing the behavior of these large carnivorous quarry. In other words, predators know they’re being hunted.
An interesting blog post by science blogger, Kyle Hill, at the James Randi Educational Foundation blog, in which Kyle argues that skeptics should wash off the “cynic” moniker to be even more effective against the likes of pseudoscience.
The Opposite of Debunking
As a skeptic, I am faced with what I will call the “Debunker’s Dilemma.” Because there is such an incredible amount of misinformation, pseudoscience, and straight-up bunk out there, it appears that a skeptic’s stance on many beliefs is constantly “negative.” Not negative in the way of cynicism, but negative in the way that we are consistently reciting the phrase “You know that’s just a myth…” or something similar. Surf any skeptical forum like the skeptic subreddit and you will find many threads lamenting over ignorance with “myth this” and “nonsense that.” Again, this is the dirty work that must be done. However, when this bleeds over into the public sphere we get the (undeserved) “cynic” moniker. This is the dilemma we face: in order to counter nonsense, we are doomed to be ever seen as dismissive critics of people’s beliefs.
Donna Belder, science blogger, asks how come kangaroos are able to jump around all day, while other animals prefer to walk or run. On Scitable’s Student Voices blog.
Why walk when you can jump?
Until a recent zoology class, I had never really given much thought as to why different animals move the way they do. For instance, what is it that makes some animals amazing runners over long distances? Why are some fantastic sprinters but wear themselves out after a short time in action? The question that really got my attention, though, was this one: what on earth could make kangaroos abandon running altogether and start mimicking pogo sticks? Kangaroos (genus Macropus) are famous for being ridiculously good at jumping, and they do it so effortlessly that you have to wonder what their secret is. Try jumping around hurriedly for a bit and you’ll soon find you suck at it (yeah, I’ve tried). Not only will you get tired after about 5 minutes, but the fact that you don’t have a tail to balance yourself means that you will probably face-plant before the 5 minutes are even up. Jumping just doesn’t work for us, or most other animals for that matter. So what is the big secret?
The 62nd Lindau Meeting is currently underway and a team of bloggers currently at Lindau, has been busy blogging the meeting away. Here are two great posts by Kelly Oakes and Alexander Bastidas Fry:
Tricking nature to give up its secrets by Kelly Oakes, freelance science writer
“By their very nature, those discoveries that most change the way we think about nature cannot be anticipated.” This was Douglas Osheroff’s claim at the start of his lecture on Wednesday morning, where he promised to tell the young researchers at Lindau “how advances in science are made”. In his talk Osheroff offered five things that scientists should keep in mind if they want make a discovery. One example that Osheroff used to illustrate these points was the discovery of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. It earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978, and provided evidence for an expanding universe that started with a big bang.
Prospects for the Higgs Boson Discovery by Alexander Bastidas Fry, freelance science writer
Tomorrow physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will make an announcement and while we don’t know exactly what the will announce there is good reason to speculate it will be the discovery of the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is a particle which mediates the interaction of all matter with the Higgs field which in turn gives all particles mass. The Higgs is the origin of mass in the standard model of physics.
Speaking of the Higgs boson, the news of its possible discovery on Wednesday did not leave the young science writers unmoved. Charles Ebikeme, blogging at Australian Science, summarises the news while Natalie Wolchover, writing at Life’s Little Mysteries, attempts to explain what the elusive Higgs is all about with a twist:
Mr Boson, I presume…? by Charles Ebikeme, writer
When Peter Higgs steps out onto the tarmac at an airport near the franco-swiss border, it will probably be with equal parts trepidation and elation. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the world’s leading laboratory for particle physics, is to hold a scientific seminar on July 4th, with Peter Higgs in attendance, to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson — the famed “God Particle”.
What If the New Particle Isn’t the Higgs Boson? by Natalie Wolchover, science reporter
Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) say they’ve discovered a new “Higgs-like” particle: a bundle of energy that has most of the trappings of the long-sought Higgs boson. They’re not naming the newcomer outright, because there are subtle indications that the particle may not, in fact, be the plain old Higgs itself, but rather a close doppelganger. Don’t let that disappoint you. To the contrary, Harvey Newman, a high-energy physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment (one of two LHC experiments that discovered the new particle), said finding a more exotic variety of Higgs boson is actually “one of the most exciting things that can happen.” Here’s why.
Before you go reading all those wonderful stories above, here’s something you can do for The SA Incubator and the young and early-career science writers. If you like The SA Incubator, do tell us who you are by leaving a comment here. Knowing who our readers are will help us better promote the young voices out there. Definitely a good cause!
Have a good weekend.