Quantum Astronomical Quotidian

Higgs is statistical, Twitter trying to trump trolling and throws us transparency, Miles learns Quotidian and will now be even more “right”, Dark matter filament questions and more Geek News of the week with Miles, Ben and Lyle.

Practically Practical Particle - GeekSpeak 2009-07-11

Physicist Linda Carpenter joins us to give us the dirt on Dark Matter and tell us why the Higgs Particle is so important.

Dark Matter Filament Found, Scientists Say

“The mysterious stuff called dark matter is thought to act as the spider silk for the cosmic web of the universe. But although it makes up most of the matter in the universe, scientists have been able to find only clumps of it in the web’s galaxy-filled ‘nodes,’ not along the gossamer threads that are thought to help give the universe its structure.”

'Horrific' Twitter Abuse Facing Clampdown

“The chief executive of Twitter has admitted that online abuse on the microblogging service is at times ‘horrifying’.

“The comments from chief executive Dick Costolo came in an interview with the Financial Times, in which he pledged to introduce measures to prevent Twitter abuse, as well as other forms of ‘trolling’.”

NY Judge Compels Twitter to Reveal User’s Data

“On Monday, a New York criminal court judge denied Twitter’s motion (PDF) to stop a court order that requires the company to produce information about one of its users, an Occupy Wall Street protestor. The move appears to open the door to Twitter’s release of the data in question, lest the company face being in contempt of court.”

Twitter Releases “Transparency Tool”

“In the vein of what Google has done for a few years now, Twitter released a ‘transparency tool’ on Monday. The company showed the public for the first time exactly how many times governments ask for user information or ask for content to be taken down. The tool also shows how many DMCA takedown requests are made. The new tool’s release comes on the same day that a New York criminal judge denied Twitter’s motion to quash a subpoena request for an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s data.”

The Shadow of an Atom

In an international scientific breakthrough, a Griffith University research team has been able to photograph the shadow of a single atom for the first time.
“We have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you cannot see anything smaller than an atom using visible light,” Professor Dave Kielpinski of Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Brisbane.

Smart Headlights See through Rain and Snow

A prototype headlight system can detect raindrops or snow streaks and “dis-illuminate” them, thereby increasing visibility on the road ahead.

The system uses a digital projector to illuminate raindrops for several milliseconds while a camera mounted on the side of the projector captures each raindrop’s location; software predicts where those raindrops will fall within the driver’s field of view. Light rays from the headlight that would normally hit the raindrop are automatically switched off, reducing glare and leaving only the beams of light which travel uninterrupted in between the falling drops.

The system’s operating range is three to four meters in front of the projector—the “critical range” at which glare is most distracting, according to tests conducted using a Toyota Prius.

Higgs Particle

Last year’s results regarding the Higgs Particle were tantalizing, but the strength of the signal only led to a confidence level of about 90% that it was real. Nice, but not enough to claim a discovery.

Today that all changed. Two different detectors at the LHC both independently found a strong signal between 125 and 126 GeV at about the 5 sigma level – that means they can claim a 99.9999% confidence this signal is real! This means they found a previously undiscovered particle which, as it happens, is within the range of mass the Standard Model predicts for the Higgs particle! That’s what that plot above shows: a bump in the energies detected, and it’s seen so strongly that it can be called a discovery.

Graphene Improves Desalination Efficiency by Factor of 100

“Graphene. It can be stronger than steel and thinner than paper. It can generate electricity when struck by light. It can be used in thin, flexible supercapacitors that are up to 20 times more powerful than the ones we use right now and can be made in a DVD burner. It’s already got an impressive track record, but does it have any more tricks up its sleeve? Apparently, yes. According to researchers at MIT, graphene could also increase the efficicency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude. Seriously, what can’t this stuff do?”

GeekBit: San Diego Fireworks Show Exploded in 15 Seconds

One of the largest Fourth of July fireworks shows in the nation was ruined in San Diego Wednesday after a glitch caused all the pyrotechnics to ignite all at once.

About five minutes before the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Boom was to begin at 9 p.m., spectators saw a brilliant display of fireworks that shot up in only 15 seconds – an incredible disappointment to hundreds of thousands of spectators who had waited for hours for the 18-minute show (see video below).

The Big Bay Boom is advertised as one of the largest fireworks shows in the nation, and boasts about attracting half a million spectators. The pyrotechnics are launched from five barges in the San Diego Bay, and this year’s show – the 12th annual spectacle – was advertised by the port as being “bigger and more intense than in past years,” and organizers set up free buses and shuttles to handle the crowds of spectators. About a dozen bayside hotels offer special Fourth of July rates just so customers can watch the show from the comfort of their rooms.