No, Higgs Boson is Not the Firm that Specializes in Diet Pill Lawsuits

Researchers at a U.S. physics lab have made an important step toward isolating the mysterious and all powerful Higgs boson particle, a particle thought to be so powerful that even Chuck Norris fears it:

The world’s best measurement of the mass of the so-called W boson was made by scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., a Fermilab release reported Friday.

The new measurement is an important step to discovering the mass of the theorized Higgs boson, the last undiscovered component of the Standard Model of physics thought to give all other particles their masses.

Well, powerful in the sense that it provides a powerful explanation of the underlying causes in theoretical physics. But I bet Norris would still be wary.

Apparently, researchers typically try to either produce the boson particles or attempt to measure other particles thought to be influenced by them; this particular attempt was a measurement trial, and it yielded excellent results:

“This measurement illustrates the great contributions that the Tevatron has made and continues to make with further analysis of its accumulated data,” Fermilab Director Pier Oddone said. “The precision of the measurement is unprecedented and allows rigorous tests of our underlying theory of how the universe works.”

Reportedly, the Devil is very happy; after all, he invented science to lead men astray from God’s truth:

“And demons shall be loosed upon the Earth and they shall consume the flesh of waterfowl paired with a savory vintage; then, with a furious surge, the demons shall construct a model of knowledge that allows for significant explanatory power in the face of questions regarding the natural world. And that knowledge will be called ‘Science,’ and it shall be evil. For men were not meant to know of the world around them; nay, they were meant to have other men read some poorly translated ancient texts and hand down platitudes from on high. Question not, men, for down that path lies only philosophers and devils.”

–Asininus, 28:12-16

Give it Up, Jackass: The Ladies Don’t Want to See Your A La Souvarov

Well, it looks like that month you spent growing a beard to impress the ladies (and your Williamsburg bicycle club) was for naught: turns out ladies are completely skeeved by beards. That’s right, hippie, your beard is off-putting. Yet many men still decided to deck their chin with a tuft of hair; explanations abound:

Science gives us various theories as to why men are able to grow beards, from protecting the delicate facial skin from sunlight to buffering blows to the jaw in a fight.

It is even suggested that a beard is a sign of a strong immune system. The theory goes that disease-carrying parasites thrive in body hair and so if a man can sport a beard without getting ill, he must be extra healthy.

Women are supposed to be drawn to strong, healthy men but previous research into whether beards are attractive has produced mixed results, so scientists from New Zealand and Canada decided to conduct their own research.

The study photographed 19 men with full beards (six weeks of solid growth), and photographed them while they made angry faces. The men then shaved and were photographed again; afterwards, scientists showed the before and after photos to a bevy of beauties who then rated the shaved men as more attractive.

Interestingly, the study, when conducted on men, seems to show that men prefer other men with beards; having a beard seems to confer a level of status upon a man. Women, too, rated the bearded men as having more presence, presumably because they were simultaneously afraid and excited by the angry, hairy visages.

While the study has a long way to go in establishing any sort of correlation, it would seem that the early results are in: dudes love other dudes with beards, and ladies prefer a clean shaven man. Or near to clean shaven; as one scientist who commented on the trend that women love a 5 o’clock shadow said, “It was almost as if women preferred a man who could grow a beard but hadn’t.”

The layers of meaning in that single bit of analysis beautifully sum up modern relationships.

For the Moment, General Relativity Will Continue to Describe Spacetime

Sadly, it would appear that CERN jumped the gun when it claimed that two neutrinos broke Einstein’s theoretical barrier on speed:

Last September, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, based outside Geneva, announced a finding that, if true, would throw a large monkey wrench into physics as we know it. Ghostly subatomic particles known as neutrinos that were generated at CERN and beamed through the earth 453 miles to a detector in Italy appeared to be arriving at their destination about 60 billionths of a second faster than a particle of light would.

Recent analysis of the findings led CERN to believe that there were at least two problems with the equipment used to measure the finding. The first was an electronic GPS component meant to record precise temporal data, and the second was a circuit–part of the relay that received the data from the experiment–that apparently introduced a delay significant enough to account for the record breaking speed; once fixed, the neutrinos’ speed would be within the barriers described by Einstein.

This is indeed sad news for those of us who have been waiting to colonize other worlds while subjugating their lame alien populations. Space imperialism is impossible without FTL travel!

I, for one, cannot stand the thought of a planet like Pandora. Goddamn blue alien hippies.

Pork: Now With 50% More MRSA!

Researchers and activists have long been concerned about feeding animals antibiotics, and the meat industry has long defended the practice and claimed that studies do not prove that doing so increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

But in a recent study scientists demonstrated how a pathogen could make the leap from humans to pigs, gain resistance, and then leap back:

Price and colleagues in 19 countries did whole-genome analysis on a Staph strain called CC398 and 88 closely related variations. CC398 is a so-called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that emerged within the past decade in pigs and has since spread widely in cattle and poultry as well as pigs.

The genetic analysis allowed the study authors to trace the lineage of the livestock bug back to its antibiotic-susceptible human ancestors. Price says it shows beyond doubt that the animal bacterium jumped back into humans with close exposure to livestock.

Perhaps the most disturbing news is the prevalence of MRSA in American pork products: nearly 50% of sampled U.S. pork contained the antibiotic resistant “pig MRSA.”

Naturally, the American Meat Institute–the lobbying group, not the gay bar–maintains their position that “informed scientists and public health professionals acknowledge that the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans is overwhelmingly an issue related to human antibiotic use.”

Wouldn’t you think, AMI, that if overuse of antibiotics in humans is problematic, that overuse of antibiotics in livestock would also be problematic?

Oh, wait, I forgot about the simple fact that cash trumps logic. Now pass me those pork rinds.

Twisted Transistor

Today’s science news is equal in awesomeness to airbrushing a topless Amazonian warrior princess fighting a dragon on your van. “That’s crazy talk!” you’ll surely say. But behold: Australian and American physicists have laid the groundwork for quantum computing by creating a transistor from a single atom embedded in silicon crystal.

In contrast to conventional computers that are based on transistors with distinct “on” and “off” or “1” and “0” states, quantum computers are built from devices called qubits that exploit the quirky properties of quantum mechanics. Unlike a transistor, a qubit can represent a multiplicity of values simultaneously.

The incredibly powerful processor will be able to factor huge numbers and model complex molecular structures with relative alacrity; basically, it will change the entire infrastructure of computing.

Apparently, scientists have been able to place a transistor since 2002, but this new transistor is by far the most precise attempt, and moreover it allows for read/write capability.

While this is extremely exciting news, there are still significant hurtles in place. The transistors currently operate at very low temperatures, so unless you’re a Batman villain it’s unlikely you’ll have the necessary equipment to maintain a home model. Also, the current equipment used to design the transistor is not a viable manufacturing tool. But despite those obstacles, some predict we could be looking at viable quantum computers within two decades.

In other words, hold out for 20 years and you’ll be rewarded with quantum pornography. If that doesn’t make you want to quit smoking, I don’t know what will!

Scientists Are Now Closer to Growing Sticky Icky Caveman Chronic

Oh, science–what can’t you do? Answer the deeper questions that plague the human psyche, probably, but who gives a shit about that? Anyway, strike another mark in science’s “cool” column, because some Russian researchers (not the ones who unleashed ancient horrors from beyond the stars) have grown an ancient plant–the oldest grown so far.

Living plants have been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, that died 32,000 years ago, a team of Russian scientists reports. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago.

But where did they acquire the seeds for this Crichtonesque science project? You guessed it–squirrels:

The Russian researchers excavated ancient squirrel burrows exposed on the bank of the lower Kolyma River, an area thronged with mammoth and woolly rhinoceroses during the last ice age. Soon after being dug, the burrows were sealed with windblown earth, buried under 125 feet of sediment and permanently frozen at minus 7 degrees Celsius.

These conditions were apparently just right for preserving the DNA material that the scientists used to grow the plants. But despite a firm radiocarbon date, some scientists are skeptical; mostly because they’ve been burned in the past (King Tut’s Brand Oatmeal was apparently a hoax).

But really, the best part of this whole experiment is undoubtedly the promise of some of that sweet caveman chronic. Because everyone knows that those caveman had the illest stash.

Your Goat’s Boston Accent Makes Him Sound Wicked Retahded

Have you ever just listened to a goat and then said to yourself, “Boy, I sure did think that goat was smart until I heard its accent; now he just sounds like a trashy idiot.”

Well, you’re not alone, because clearly some scientists thought the same thing and then devoted a portion of their time to studying goat accents:

Researchers found the animals develop their own speaking voice when they move away from their siblings and mingle with others.

They found that a goats’ “accent’ changed as they grew older and moved in different groups, disproving claims that their voices were entirely genetic.

That’s right, if you went to that conference last year about how goat voices are entirely genetically determined, you wasted your time because goat accent is culture, bitch.

The news about goat accents also lends support to theories that claim all mammals may develop accents depending on their surroundings; soon, the linguistics of polar bears will become a popular academic extreme sport.

I’m just happy that science has proven what common sense has told us all along: your goat’s Boston accent makes him sound like an idiot. And he doesn’t look good in that Bruins jersey, either.

Harvard Scientists Cured Cancer While You Pondered the Dollar Menu

While you were sitting at your desk thinking about the cheeseburger you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow, some labcoats at Harvard were curing cancer with nanorobots. Probably while thinking about cheeseburgers. I bet you feel pretty bad about yourself now, don’t you?

Scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have developed a robotic device made from DNA that could potentially seek specific cell targets and deliver important molecular instructions, such as telling cancer cells to self-destruct.

The researchers said in a press release they were inspired by the mechanics of the body’s immune system. The technology may some day be used to program immune responses to treat various diseases, they wrote in today’s issue of Science.

I’m not going to attempt to summarize what the scientists did; let’s just say it involved DNA, origami, barrels, and lasers.

So, while you’re eating your “Goddamnit, it’s Friday and I’ll do what I want” cheeseburger tomorrow, remember that the colon cancer you’ll eventually develop from all that charred meat will likely be cured by a nanorobot with functions modeled on the human immune system. Hooray for tiny robots and also cheeseburgers!

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