Atom smashers, skull crackers and a volcano on the prairie

July 26, 2010

"Where da Higgs at?" That is perhaps the most succinct formulation of one of the hottest questions in physics, as coined by funky49 (his hip-hop nerdcore challenge to Euro-science closes out the latest Clever Apes). Meanwhile, there's actually some news to report on that question: Fermilab scientists announced today in Paris that they've closed in further on the elusive "God Particle." The Higgs is the missing link in the chain of fundamental particles. Researchers using Fermilab's Tevatron particle collider are homing in on what mass the Higgs could possibly be. That means they've essentially narrowed down the terrain that they're searching for this little blip. As my man funky put it, "Yo, that's their mark." Elsewhere in the program, we learned about some old-school therapies for Parkinson's Disease that are being put through their paces in modern clinical trials. The Movement Disorder Society has some great pictures and history of what early brain science was all about. This early stereotaxic surgery contraption looks especially inviting. I hear from Suzan van der Lee that efforts to site seismic stations across Illinois are going swimmingly. As she mentions in the interview, her students are trekking across the state, literally knocking on doors to ask landowners if they'll donate a square of dirt for a seismograph. She writes: "Students Emily and Joseph have made great progress "¦ and have only about 7 more sites to find. They're having a wide range of experiences!" I bet they are -- if you've ever done door-to-door sales, you know you're not always warmly welcomed. Now instead of selling something, try going out and talking farmers out of a sliver of land. But science must march on: This project is part of Earthscope, a national effort to vastly increase what we know about the deep earth. Here's Dr. van der Lee talking more about how our sleepy Midwestern region used to be the center of the action, seismically speaking, and how an ocean tried to form between Minnesota and Wisconsin (which would have been awesome, by the way. I hope it tries again): AUDIO

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