Could the elusive Higgs boson finally be in sight? On his blog, physicist Tommaso Dorigo of the University of Padua writes about talk of a tentative hint of the Higgs at the Tevatron, a particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.
"It reached my ear, from two different, possibly independent sources, that an experiment at the Tevatron is about to release some evidence of a light Higgs boson signal. Some say a three-sigma effect, others do not make explicit claims but talk of a unexpected result," writes Dorigo
Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."
A rare, stinky corpse flower is expected to bloom this weekend in Houston.
Botanists at the Houston Museum of Natural Science are measuring the flower daily, and Friday said it stood nearly 5 feet tall and weighing 30 pounds. The museum's plant is nicknamed Lois after a former staff member's mother.
The Amorphophallus titanum — which is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra — has only been seen in bloom in the United States 28 times, including twice in Texas, said Nancy Greig, the museum's Cockrell Butterfly Center director. The Latin name translates to "giant shapeless phallus."
When in bloom, the plants emit a foul odor that attracts pollinating carrion beetles hoping to lay their eggs in rotting flesh. The plant has a central stalk that is surrounded by a leafy, purple collar. Inside that stalk is a hollow gas chamber that heats its natural oil and emits the stinky smell for eight to 12 hours. It looks like a tower surrounded by a frilly, liver-colored Elizabethan collar, according to the Houston Chronicle. Thousands of male and female flowers surround the base.
The plant doesn't flower every year and when it does, it's only for two days. The flower can grow up to 200 pounds, and starts as a $75 walnut-sized corm.
A corpse flower bloomed in Nacogdoches in 2004 and the smell was so bad, fans surrounded the plant to blow the scent away so visitors could approach.
LONDON -- A huge ball of brightly burning gas drifting through a neighboring galaxy may be the heaviest star ever discovered - hundreds of times more massive than the sun, scientists said Wednesday after working out its weight for the first time.
Those behind the find say the star, called R136a1, may once have weighed as much as 320 solar masses. Astrophysicist Paul Crowther said the obese star - twice as heavy as any previously discovered - has already slimmed down considerably over its lifetime.
In fact, it's burning itself off with such intensity that it shines at nearly 10 million times the luminosity of the sun.
A material used for thousands of years could be key to creating a soft, Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak.
Scientists create an invisibility cloak from silk.
Silk only interacts with terahertz waves, not visible light.
Silk-based metamaterials could become a basis for future generation of biomedical devices.
For thousands of years people have worn shimmering silk to stand out in a crowd. Within the next few years people could wear silk to become invisible in a a crowd.
For the first time ever, scientists have created an invisibility cloak made from silk, and coated in gold.
The new metamaterial, as invisibility cloaks and their kin are technically called, only works on relatively long terahertz waves (a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between radio and infrared light), but the Boston-area scientists who developed the technology think that silk could work as an invisibility cloak at much smaller wavelengths, even in the visible range.
The research could lead to a wide range of optically unique materials for use in biomedicine or defense.
"This is an unusual angle for a metamaterial because of silk's ability to interface with the human body," something that no other metamaterial is currently capable of, said Fiorenzo Omenetto, a scientist at Tufts University who, along with colleagues at Boston University, helped develop the silk-based metamaterial and detail their new research in the journal Advanced Materials.
"On the sensing side it gives you a platform that is very adaptable."
Invisibility cloaks, along with their optically exotic cousins, perfect absorbers and perfect reflectors and others, belong to a special class of materials known as metamaterials. Unlike most materials, which derive optical properties like color from their chemical make up, metamaterials derive their properties from the physical structure.
A curly cue, or short spiral, is a common metamaterial structure. Scientists call them split ring resonators, or SSRs. Usually scrawled into metals, SSR can give ordinary materials extraordinary abilities, like absorbing or reflecting all the specific wavelengths of light, or bending a wavelength around an object.
To create their silk-based metamaterial, the Tufts and Boston University scientists, including Richard Averitt, started with a one-centimeter-square piece of silkworm silk. (In another recent paper, Omenetto's colleague and another co-author of the Advanced Material's paper, David Kaplan of Tufts, created silk-producing bacteria.) Onto that tiny piece of dielectric silk they stenciled 10,000 gold resonators.
Ordinarily when silk is exposed to terahertz waves they pass straight through it. When the new silk metamaterial was subjected to T-rays the scientists detected a resonance.
A metamaterial that works in the terahertz range is nothing new. But, unlike other metamaterials, silk is biocompatable -- the human body won't reject silk-based implants the way it does with most other materials. The scientists implanted the patterned silk into a muscle, and still detected a resonance.
The new silk research is "interesting," said Douglas Werner, a metamaterial scientist at Pennsylvania State University. "There is a lot of interest in using flexible substrates for metamaterials, and silk is a good candidate for that."
The potential applications of silk-based invisibility are huge. Omenetto and his colleagues at Tufts aren't even focused on Harry Potter or Star Trek-style invisibility materials, although he says that is one potential application.
Their main focus is in biomedical applications. One of the first biomedical uses could be as an implantable glucose sensor for diabetics. As the level of glucose changes inside the body, it changes the silk. Then as the silk changes, do does the metamaterial printed on the silk. That change would then be relayed to the person's cell phone; no needle prick necessary.
Silk-based invisibility would also allow doctors and radiologists to cloak various organs or tissues and see through them, said Omenetto, getting a better image of the organs or tissues usually hidden behind.
"Well, no, we're not making an invisibility cloak. I guess we could. I don't know. That's not really my line though. You won't write about us, unless I talk about an invisibility cloak? Okay. We're making an invisibility cloak. And we're going to ride it to the moon."
Pictured: The research team, their assistants and Sparky, the lovable mascot.