10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week
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Actually it was the hottest man-made thing, but anyway Jeanna Bryner of Live Science breaks this complicated story into bite-sized info pieces the gist of which is this: the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) is like a big race track where gold nuclei were sent smashing into each other at nearly light speed, resulting in such intense energy that the protons and neutrons in the gold nuclei are broken up into their basic parts, quarks and gluons…to get a picture think perhaps of your latte (the gold) broken up into its parts of coffee and milk (protons and electrons) and those being broken up into their constituent parts.
The quarks and gluons then formed a “nearly friction-free primordial plasma thought to resemble the stuff that filled the universe just after the Big Bang created it some 13.7 billion years ago. (This matter would have cooled and condensed to form the protons and neutrons that make up the matter here today.)”
The quark-gluon plasma reached 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit -- 250,000 times hotter than the sun and just a little warmer than my un-air-conditioned Florida car.
Boyle writes that this hot plasma soup could offer information about how “the universe is put together at its most fundamental level.”
So they’re trying to recreate conditions just after the Big Bang. I can’t help wondering what if they do an awesome job -- but are just a little early, recreate the actual moment and a whole other universe pops into existence? If cable TV is any cheaper in that one, I’m going.
10. Iron egghead
You know why I put so many links in the piece above? Because particle physics is hard. Gluons aren’t things that pop up in most people’s day-to-day, certainly not in mine. It’s an enormous help for those to whom it’s not intuitive (like me) to have someone explain it well.
If you have the gift of sci-gab you might just want to get in on the Iron Egghead competition. The contest, writes Phillip Yam of Scientific American (which is putting on the contest in conjunction with SciVee), says it’s based on their own “Instant Egghead” series and the cooking show "Iron Chef," in which contestants are given set ingredients and have to make something out of them. You have a fixed set of props (listed in the story) and with them you must appear on camera and describe a “a part, process or system of the human body in two minutes or less.”
The contest runs through October 21, 2012 and evidently it helps to have a little of that MacGyver thing. (“Gimmie me two Mentos, a Coke and a lighter and I’ll make the Fourth of July fireworks this year.”)
You can do it, Cinderella! Think of the possibilities! You could be on the Internet! I mean legitimately for once!
Just don’t make some video of how to get your face inseminated by squid. And if you do, you didn’t hear any of this from me. Good luck!