Daily Archives: February 14, 2013

Peter Gleick vs Heartland Institute

Peter Gleick, my sbling here at scienceblogs.com (see his blog here) is famous for a lot of things, but about one year ago he went up against the Heartland Institute and in a daring effort of investigative (if avocational) journalism, revealed that right wing conservative/libertarian “think” tank’s nefarious plans to interfere with science education in an effort to discredit climate scientists in the eyes of the American public and our students through a series of rather smarmy tactics, including some really obnoxious billboards.

Scott Mandia at “Global Warming: Man or Myth?” has written a one-year-later retrospective of Gleick vs. Heartland. Check it out: Peter Gleick vs Heartland Institute – Scorecard One Year Later. And the Winner Is?

Scott compares the “accomplishments” of the Heartland Institute over the last year with Peter’s activities to produce a rather lopsided score card that resembles what would happen if the local High School football team went up against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll

Several thousand scientists at a handful of different research centers spent a gazillion hours and a huge pile of money searching for the Higgs Boson. But, nobody really cares that much about the Higgs Boson. The important thing is the Higgs Field. The Higgs Field is this thing that is everywhere, as these spooky quantum fields tend to be, but that has a strange characteristic that makes it different from other fields; at rest the Higgs field has a non zero energy level. This means that its effect on particles is asymmetric. What that means is that when you write a mathematical formula of what happens to each of various different related and quasi similar particles such that the particles “look” the same way as each other in the formula, but then add in the effect of the Higgs field, the particles no longer “looks” the same. The symmetry of the formula is broken. I short, the Higgs field breaks symmetry. The result of this breaking of symmetry is that certain (most but not all) of the fundamental particles that make up matter act differently than a whole bunch of other thingies that make up the universe and you get … stuff. Without the breaking of symmetry caused by the Higgs Field, there really wouldn’t be much stuff, and if there was any stuff, it would be very different than the stuff we have now. The Higgs Particle itself is the product of extremely rare and hard to reproduce in the lab events, and the specific nature of the Higgs Particle, as measured by ginomrous devices that can’t really detect the particle directly but do so indirectly, should “look” a certain way (have certain products at a certain energy level) if the Higgs Field exists and is what we (and by we I mean they) think it is. Continue reading The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll