extraordinary_year_logo1SciTechTalk: Particle physicists ready to go beyond the ‘God particle’
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 05, 2014 – Having been successful in their search for the Higgs boson – the so-called “God particle” that appeared to put a big red ribbon of completion on the Standard Model of physics – you would think particle physicists would be happy to put their feet up on the couch and bask in the glow of their accomplishment. But no, they’re off on a new hunt, this time for something called “supersymmetry.” … more

Researchers use Hubble Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on alien world
Chicago IL (SPX) Jan 01, 2014 – Weather forecasters on exoplanet GJ 1214b would have an easy job. Today’s forecast: cloudy. Tomorrow: overcast. Extended outlook: more clouds. A team of scientists led by researchers in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago report they have definitively characterized the atmosphere of a super-Earth class planet orbiting another star for the first time. … more

More than 1,000 chosen for one-way Mars reality-TV mission
The Hague (AFP) Jan 02, 2014 – More than 1,000 candidates – from 200,000 hopefuls – have been chosen to train for a private Mars colonisation mission to be partly funded by a reality-TV show following their training and subsequent steps, organisers said Thursday. They are to be whittled down to just 24, who will be sent over six launches starting in 2024, according to Mars One, the Dutch-based non-profit group behind th … more

NASA’s Hubble Sees Cloudy Super-Worlds With Chance for More Clouds
Baltimore MD (SPX) Jan 01, 2014 – Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have characterized the atmospheres of two of the most common type of planets in the Milky Way galaxy and found both may be blanketed with clouds. The planets are GJ 436b, located 36 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo, and GJ 1214b, 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. Despite numerous efforts, the nature of the atmo … more

Two Solar Flares Say Goodbye 2013 and Welcome 2014
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Jan 03, 2014 – The sun ushered out 2013 and welcomed 2014 with two mid-level flares on Dec. 31, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. … more

First Asteroid Discovered in 2014 Has Little Impact
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 03, 2014 – Early Wednesday morning January 1st, while New Year’s 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, AZ, collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid 2-3 meters in size on a potential impact trajectory with the Earth. Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroi … more