Friday, July 6, 2012

Higgs Boson or Fireworks?

Today's diversion is a simple quiz. Which is it: Higgs boson tracks or Richardson "Family 4th Celebration" fireworks? You decide.

From 2012 07 04 Breckinridge

This July 4th, a team of nuclear physicists announced experimental evidence for the Higgs boson, the particle that gives everything its mass (the so-called "God particle," a term physicists hate). It was predicted to exist in 1964 and ever since physicists have been working towards having a powerful enough particle accelerator to produce experimental results to test the theory. Now they have one, the Large Hadron Collider, a $10 billion instrument buried in a 17 mile circular tunnel, the collaboration of dozens of countries, hundreds of universities, and thousands of scientists, the largest and most complex device ever built. With the July 4th announcement, scientists worldwide celebrated a major advancement in human understanding of the building blocks of our universe.

Coincidentally, the City of Richardson was holding its "Family 4th Celebration" on July 4th, too. Despite the smaller cost and more local audience, the tracks of fireworks across the sky at Breckinridge Park delighted young and old just as much as the Higgs boson tracks delighted scientists. This year, there were two reasons to celebrate. Congratulations, scientists. And Happy Birthday, America.

More photos after the jump.

Richardson's "Family 4th Celebration" was held, as always, at Breckinridge Park. What would a 4th of July celebration be without a little politicking? (Refreshing, you say? Hush.) Well, once again we won't know. Here are Pete Sessions and Richardson City Council members being upstaged by Stefani Carter, who exploited the opportunity and captive audience to do some election campaign speechifying:

From 2012 07 04 Breckinridge

The politicking gave way to a concert by the Richardson Community Band, followed by the highlight of the evening, fireworks:

From 2012 07 04 Breckinridge

All photos from Richardson's "Family 4th Celebration," including lots more fireworks, can be viewed here.

Oh, and one more picture, of the Higgs boson itself (or at least the tracks of a subatomic particle collision like the one that provided this week's evidence of the Higgs boson):

From Argonne National Laboratory

By the way, Jeffrey Weiss gives as good a layman's explanation for the excitement over the Higgs boson as anything I've read this week. Weiss is the journalist with The Dallas Morning News who once covered the Richardson school district back when the newspaper believed that good local coverage was what might save the News from obsolescence. I don't know what Weiss covers for the News now, but his best writing can still be found on the web pages of RealClearReligion.

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