Left to our own devices and allowed to live without constant fear of death by hunger or violence, we devise some pretty startling stuff.
Sure, some of our better efforts don’t outlast our calamities, or go obsolete before their time or simply never get their chance to shine because no one yet recognizes the need for them. But you can’t keep a good idea down forever, as I explore in this list of …
In 1928, the equations of British physicist Paul Dirac helped to describe the workings of the subatomic particles known as fermions. Within a year, other theorists – including a contemporary and schoolmate of Einstein’s named Hermann Weyl – had come up with solutions to Dirac’s equations that meant two other, quite odd types of fermions might also exist.
Proving them right would take some time, and Weyl’s quasiparticle assumed a kind of legendary status until 2015, when three separate teams confirmed its existence (my article says two, but a third popped up after I wrote it). Read on to find out more about this “ghost particle” and how it could transform electronics.
When physicists at CERN cranked up the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on Sept. 10, 2008, they had high (if contradictory) hopes. Like a child at Christmas, they wanted to get exactly what was on their wish list – the Higgs boson, some proof of supersymmetry – but also yearned for some wonderful surprise; because, if everything they predicted was right on the money, then particle physicists might well weep, for they would have no new worlds to conquer.
Years later, the LHC still hasn’t destroyed the planet or crushed physicists’ hopes. In fact, it’s made some amazing and somewhat perplexing discoveries. In this article, I take a (relatively) nontechnical look back at five the five most major findings so far.