President Barack Obama’s Inauguration

Vertie Hodge, 74, via The Big Picture
Vertie Hodge, 74, via The Big Picture

Balls in Reservoir

Plastic balls are released into a reservoir to protect it from sunlight
Plastic balls are released into a reservoir to protect it from sunlight

Workers from the Department of Water and Power empty bales of plastic balls into the Ivanhoe reservoir in LA. A total of 400K 4-inch balls were released, the first of about 3 million to cover the entire 7 acres of the reservoir to protect it from sunlight. If sunlight combines with bromide and chlorine, a carcinogen named bromate can be formed.

The Confidence Game

Why do we trust con men? Two women married him, and believed his fantastical stories of being an heir to a company fortune. (via 3quarksdaily)

Large Hadron Collider

Fantastic images of the large hadron collider in Switzerland and France, which is almost completed. It looks extremely complicated.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27 kilometer (17 mile) long particle accelerator straddling the border of Switzerland and France, is nearly set to begin its first particle beam tests.

At a total cost of 10 billion dollars, the LHC is going to be used to smash particles together to search for the illusive Higgs boson. It’s presence has been predicted.

Another particle that physicists have been searching for is the graviton, which would be to gravity what a photon is to light. Finding the graviton would help the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Neutralinos are also particles that would be important to find. They are partly predicted by supersymmetry. Visible matter makes up 4% of the universe. 22% is made out of dark matter. The other 74% is made out of dark energy. Dark energy is the opposite of gravity, since it’s that force which pushes the universe to expand. Many physicists suspect that dark matter is made out of neutralinos.

What dark energy is, though, is a mystery. It is possible, just, that the properties of the Higgs boson will cast a little light on that mystery.

To find out more, consult the excellent article at the Economist about the LHC.