Earths beyond Earth
In about three years we’ll know the percentage of stars in our part of the Milky Way that hold earth-size or larger planets in the “habitable zone.” The habitable zone is a region where temperatures are likely to enable liquid water. The knowledge arrives thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission. Of course, we all know that liquid water could also exist outside the habitable zone, in places like Europa, but the hab zone is good place to start looking. Then we can search these planets for oxygen in the atmospheres, then drill down to finer levels of detail until we have located the best pizza in the quadrant.
In a few years we should know if the Higgs Boson particle exists, thanks to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). I confess that I don’t know exactly what that means, but I do know that the Higgs boson is the only particle of matter predicted by the Standard Model of physics that has never been detected. I guess if we don’t find it, we have devise and demonstrate much more intriguing theories. Steven Hawking bet $100 that we won’t find it. Last year on Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19) there was a malfunction at the LHC and a few metric tons of liquid helium leaked out and evaporated. The last time I spilled that much liquid helium it was a mess. It’s about -450 degrees Fahrenheit. The cats and I were frozen solid for a very long time, and thawing out was painful.