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Aldrin’s faces for Trump, tunnels to the underworld, physics collides with art


By Sarah Tesh

Buzz Aldrin pulled some spectacular facial expressions during a speech by Donald Trump this week. The President of the United States was announcing his executive order to revive the US National Space Council. During points of Trump’s rather rambling speech, the Apollo 11 astronaut looked a combination of unimpressed, confused and bored. But while he may be bemused by the president’s chatter (as many are), he posted a positive Tweet about the executive order, saying, “I’m happy that space is getting the attention it needs to move us forward to committing to plans to get back to the Moon & on to Mars #GYATM.”

Speaking of the Moon (kind of), electrical tomography scans have revealed a long-lost passageway under the Pyramid of the Moon in Mexico. Researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City discovered the hidden tunnel 10 m beneath the surface of the ancient city of Teotihuacan. To perform the scans, the researchers placed electrodes in the ground and sent a current through the subsoil. By measuring the resistance of different materials, they could go on to build 2D and 3D models of the ground. The tunnel leads to a central square used for human sacrifice (lovely…) and the researchers believe it was designed to emulate paths to the underworld. The finding is a fascinating application of scientific methods – although if further exploration means more details about human sacrifice, I may get too squeamish to read on.

As well as archaeology, science also met art this week. The floating city of Venice in Italy has long been a centre of art and culture, and this week it collided with particle physics. As part of the European Physical Society Conference on High Energy Physics, taking place on Venice Lido, there is an exhibition of particle-physics-related artwork. The exhibit – “The Higgs boson’s colours” – features more than 50 pieces by high-school students and professional artists. The display is open to the public and will be running until the end of the conference on 12 July. A highlight of the meeting so far came from LHCb physicists who announced the first observation of a baryon containing two charm quarks. Is it too late to go on a work-related trip to one of my favourite places in world…?

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