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Blog

Days out at CERN, serendipitous songs, shaken scientists and more

By Tushna Commissariat

A peek into the Red Folder this week brings up the CERN Open Days – the biggest particle-physics laboratory in the world will allow people from all over the globe to roam its hallowed halls freely for this weekend. While the most exciting part of the event will undoubtedly be visits into the underground caverns that host the Large Hadron Collider’s experiments, a whole host of other activities for researchers, science enthusiasts and children are available. Also this weekend, as a part of the European Researcher’s Night festivities, CERN will be hosting events in Paris, Geneva and Bologna for their Origins 2013 event that looks at two big scientific discovers made in the past two years: the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN and the latest Planck mission data. For those of you attending, “Speed-dating – close encounters with researchers” definitely caught our eye. Those of us not fortunate enough to be in any of those places can watch many of the festivities via a live webcast. And lastly, you can explore CERN from the inside on Google Maps with Street View.

This week also saw a rather controversial scientist feature in the Letters section of Science. In October last year, geophysicist and former president of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology Enzo Boschi was one of seven scientists found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for, in his own words, “failing to give adequate advance warning to the population of L’Aquila, a city in the Abruzzo region of Italy, about the risk of the 6 April 2009 earthquake that led to 309 deaths”. The controversial ruling was delivered in spite of an open letter to the Italian president from 5000 international scientists claiming that the charges were unfounded. In his letter, Boschi talks about the trial and the legitimacy of the proof of his and his colleagues’ guilt, claiming that prosecutors put “science itself on trial”. You can read the entire letter here.

Another story we spotted, on the Physics Central blog, is about the jailed Iranina student Omid Kokabee – he has been awarded the 2014 American Physical Society’s APS’s Andrei Sakharov human rights prize. He was cited for “his courage in refusing to use his physics knowledge to work on projects that he deemed harmful to humanity, in the face of extreme physical and psychological pressure”.

Those of you who are fans of the Emmy-award winning American TV series The Big Bang Theory will undoubtedly also know the theme song of the show, sung by the band Barenaked Ladies. In a recent interview with the band, singer Ed Robertson revealed that he had rather serendipitously just finished reading a cosmology book by Simon Singh when he was asked to write the song. Maybe that would explain the very accurate and catchy lyrics!

And finally, find out all about the effects of fluid mechanics on sperm and sperm whales. Thanks to the Empirical Zeal blog (video above), you can delve deeper into the physics of the Reynolds number, and why size matters when you are swimming.

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2 comments

  1. The controversial ruling was delivered in spite of an open letter.

  2. anton@multistein.com

    To read Boschi’s letter one has to pay US $20 – was this really Boschi’s intent that his letter is used commercially?

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