Tuesday Reads: Natural and Human-Made Fireworks, the God Particle, and More

Good Morning!

Someone in my neighborhood has begun celebrating Independence Day already, so I’m writing this with the sound of firecrackers in the background.

That may soon be followed by thunder and lightening, so I shouldn’t have any trouble staying awake long enough to finish this post. As long as my power doesn’t go out, everything should be fine!

That’s downtown Boston in a thunderstorm.  Isn’t it gorgeous?   Now let’s see what the morning papers have in store for us.

Everyone is agog about physicists’ discovery of a new particle–is it the “god particle?”

Physicists in Europe will present evidence of an entirely new particle on Wednesday, Nature has learned.

But more data will be needed to officially confirm whether it is indeed the long-awaited Higgs boson — the particle thought to be behind the mass of all the others.

Even as rumours fly in the popular media, physicists have begun quietly cheering at CERN, the European particle-physics lab near Geneva in Switzerland. “Without a doubt, we have a discovery,” says one member of the team working on the ATLAS experiment, who wished to remain anonymous. “It is pure elation!”

For nearly half a century, physicists have predicted the existence of a particle that helps to endow others with mass. Named after theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, the boson is the upshot of a mathematical trick that unites the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces into a single ‘electroweak’ interaction. It is considered the final, crucial piece of the standard model of particle physics.

I’m fascinated by physics, but this thing is beyond my comprehension. From what I can figure out it has something to do with an energy field that permeates the universe; so to me it sounds like confirmation of something that has been talked about by mystics for centuries.

“We think the Higgs boson really gets at the center of some physics that is responsible for why the universe is here in the first place and what the ultimate structure of matter is,” said Joe Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab….

“You can think of it as an energy field. We believe there is a Higgs energy field spread out in the whole universe,” Lykken said. Photons — light particles — are unaffected by this field. But as other elementary particles move around, he explained, “they feel this energy field as a kind of sticky molasses that slows them down and keeps them from moving at the speed of light.”

When enough of that field is packed into a small enough space, Lykken said, it manifests as a particle — the Higgs boson.

A group of researchers will leave today to mount a search for the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s plane.

Organizers hope the expedition will conclusively solve one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20th century – what became of Earhart after she vanished during an attempt to become the first pilot, man or woman, to circle the globe around the equator.

A recent flurry of clues point to the possibility that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ended up marooned on the tiny uninhabited island of Nikumaroro, part of the Pacific archipelago Republic of Kiribati.

“The public wants evidence, a smoking gun, that this is the place where Amelia Earhart’s journey ended,” said Richard Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). “That smoking gun is Earhart’s plane.”

The expedition was scheduled to begin yesterday, but the group’s departure was postponed because of an administrative issue. The trip will last 16 days, with 10 days spent on the search for the wreckage.

One of my cousins works in the White House, and her power has been out since that big storm the hit the mid-Atlantic states. According to my mom, many people in Indiana are also without power. Hundreds of thousands in the Eastern U.S. are in the same boat, and there is a likelihood of more blackouts. During a heat wave like this, that can be more than inconvenient–it could be dangerous.

Electrical utilities are advising customers in and around Washington that it may well be a whole week before all power is restored after the unusually potent storm that ravaged the mid-Atlantic region on Friday. Many customers are outraged as to why it would take so long.

More than two million people in the eastern United States, including more than 400,000 in the greater Washington area, were still without power on Monday.

The storm, which claimed at least 22 lives, shuttered businesses, stores and gas stations and littered the region with fallen tree limbs and downed power lines, many of which are still strung along poles above ground.

It hit during a period of record-breaking heat and immediately shut down air conditioning systems across an area well known for its hot, humid summers and poor air quality.

As evidence grows that Chief Justice John Roberts changed his vote on the Affordable Care Act case at the last minute, Republicans are gnashing their teeth and cursing their former idol as a traitor to the cause: Scorn and Withering Scorn for Roberts

The day after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the Supreme Court’s four-member liberal wing to uphold the health care overhaul law, he appeared before a conference of judges and lawyers in Pennsylvania. A questioner wanted to know whether he was “going to Disney World.”

Chief Justice Roberts said he had a better option: he was about to leave for Malta, where he would teach a two-week class on the history of the Supreme Court. “Malta, as you know, is an impregnable island fortress,” he said on Friday, according to news reports. “It seemed like a good idea.”

The chief justice was correct to anticipate a level of fury unusual even in the wake of a blockbuster decision with vast political, practical and constitutional consequences. The criticism came from all sides. And it was directed not at the court as whole or even at the majority in the 5-to-4 decision. It was aimed squarely at him.

Read the rest at the link. The NYT tried to “balance” their story by claiming that liberals are angry too. Seriously? Even they admit the wingers are “particularly bitter.”

Former Dubya speechwriter Michael Gerson describes “John Roberts’ alternate universe.” And Marc A. Thiessen asks, “Why are Republicans so awful at picking Supreme Court justices?”

While conservatives agonize, a new Kaiser Health Tracking poll finds that 56% of Americans “would like to see the law’s detractors stop their efforts to block its implementation and move on to other national problems.” More evidence that conservatives are out of touch with reality and headed for disaster in November unless they can manage to buy a clue.

CNN also ran a poll on reactions to the ACA decision–also asking respondents about their attitudes toward the Supreme Court.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, the public is divided on last week’s ruling, with 50% saying they agree with the Supreme Court’s decision and 49% saying they disagree. And there is the expected partisan divide, with more than eight in ten Democrats agreeing with the decision, more than eight in ten Republicans disagreeing, and independent voters divided, with 52% disagreeing and 47% agreeing…..

“Despite howls of protest from many Republican leaders, only about one in five Americans – and only 35% of the Republican rank and file – say they are angry about the decision,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “And despite victory laps by many Democratic leaders, only one in six Americans – and only one in three Democrats nationwide – say they feel enthusiastic about the court’s ruling.”

But attitudes toward the Court generally have changed.

“As recently as April, Republicans and Democrats had virtually identical positive opinions on the Supreme Court. But not any more,” adds Holland. “That’s the biggest change that the court decision has created.”

The court’s approval rating among Democrats jumped by 23 points; to 73%. Among Republicans, it fell by 21 points, to 31%. Approval of the Supreme Court among independents edged up five points, to 53%.

I’ll end with a story that is a few days old, but still interesting: Mormons quit church in mass resignation ceremony.

A group of about 150 Mormons quit their church in a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City on Saturday in a rare display of defiance ending decades of disagreement for some over issues ranging from polygamy to gay marriage.

Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a “Declaration of Independence from Mormonism.” [….]

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for its culture of obedience, and the mass ceremony was a seldom-seen act of collective revolt.

After gathering in the park, participants hiked a half-mile up nearby Ensign Peak, scaled in 1847 by church President Brigham Young to survey the spot where his Latter-day Saints would build a city.

At the top, those gathered gave three loud shouts of “Freedom,” cheered, clapped and hugged.

The reasons participants gave for leaving their religion included the Mormon church’s political activity directed against the LGBT community, racism and sexism in the church, and the church’s efforts to cover up its own troubling history, which includes violent acts and polygamy.

Now what are your reading recommendations for today?

50 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Natural and Human-Made Fireworks, the God Particle, and More”

  1. mablue2 says:

    Nice assortment BB. Great job as always.

    Never mind the stalker and the trolls.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hey, thanks! It’s great to see you!

    • dakinikat says:

      Hi mablue! Good to see you!

    • RalphB says:

      Ditto! especially about the trolls.

    • mablue2 says:

      Hi guys, I check in many times a day. I’m just too lazy to comment and when I feel like hanging around, everyone else is asleep.

      I just found the rightwing troll invasion on one of BB’s recent post strange.

      • dakinikat says:

        BB and I had a great laugh over it.

      • bostonboomer says:


        It’s so good to know you are dropping by. You should leave messages for us no matter what time it is there.

        What’s your take on Angela Merkel’s austerity obsession?

      • mablue2 says:

        Angela Merkel is in a very tough spot:

        – Many “Very Serious People” are still pushing austerity as the way to go for countries with devastated economies, and Merkel certainly buys into that

        – Her party has been losing election after election

        – Her coalition is no longer as strong as it was at the beginning because her junior partner has been on a serious decline

        – She is deaset against the Eurobond

        – The newly approved Eurozone Permanent Rescue Fund is headed in Germany to the supreme court as opponents are seeking an injunction

  2. HT says:

    Lots of linky goodness – excellent! Off to read and Thanks. BBL

    • bostonboomer says:

      You were up early! I can’t believe I just woke up at 9:30. I’ve been so good about getting up early recently. I guess I slept better because the heat has let up some.

      • HT says:

        BB I wish I could sleep until 9:30. Even if I stay awake till 4 in the morning, I never make it to 9:30. You are blessed by the sleep fairy – send her my way willya.

      • bostonboomer says:

        My problem is that it takes me at least two hours to fall asleep at night. I usually listen to the radio until I finally drop off.

      • HT says:

        I also listen to the radio to fall asleep – but unfortunately the only station I listen to is the CBC, and there’s just so much information that I want to hear, so it’s not the ease into sleep I need. Yet I can’t quit. I suspect my sleep problems have to do with when I decided to work at home to raise the munchkins. I, like so many other women, spent all of my time taking care of the kids, then putting in 12 hours every day for the company. I used to be up at 2AM sending e-mails or writing manuals, then at 6 I was back up making breakfast for the munchkins. It’s really difficult to break those habits. I would love to sleep longer than 4 or 5 hours non stop. Perhaps in my next life? P.S. I know I’m not the only one who suffers from sleep deprivation due to years of balancing work/children issues.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    The power outage in DC takes me back to the early icestorm in late October here in Western MA that lasted for one whole week where thousands of us at this end of the state went without power. I was forced to relocate to Brimfield for that week where my son had a generator bought right after they got hit with tornados in June! Not pleasant but at least I had refuge.

    There is something definitely going on in the atmosphere. Far too many disasters have erupted in the last few years to ignore. When chunks of ice the size of Rhode Island are breaking off and dissolving into the ocean, it stands to reason that this could be a direct link to global warming and atmospheric changes that we have no control over. Al Gore predicted as much and some of what we are experiencing is exactly what he said would happen.

    When heavy winds that bring about the upending of trees that knock out power to overhead power lines, you would think that this would be the time to consider underground efforts to protect these lines. We are losing trees, the shoreline, and natural marshland that will take years and years to replace yet no one is looking closely at the consequences of ignoring this phenomenon.

    We continue to dismiss the warnings and I am beginning to wonder if we have lost the ability to make a difference.

    • HT says:

      Interesting you should mention that this morning. I was out walking my companion of the canine genus this morning at 6:30AM. I have to go early because of the heat. Anyway, there were a lot of people out – joggers, bycyclers, walkers, and of course we all “Good Morning” each other – One lady turned and asked me if it was always this hot in Canada. I replied that historically it was not, but in the last few years it has gotten to the point where we don’t go out in the afternoon. In my area we now have two seasons – summer and late, late fall. Spring and winter seem to have gone AWOL. Yesterday, very high winds bringing down branches – most unusual here.
      I suspect that we may have passed the critical point of no return thanks to our collective politicians burying their heads in the sand, or their ass, whichever pays more.

      • northwestrain says:

        I agree about the tipping point and global warming. Many of the real scientists are telling us that this is the new normal — and that the earlier weather records are now just history.

        As everyone in the midwest & east is suffering from the heat — most of the Pacific coast is wetter and colder. Today is another day of rain — off and on most of the day.

        For blue water sailors (sailboats traveling in the major oceans) there is a guide book of expected winds and direction of winds which is published every few years. This chart book of the wind directions (and currents) has been more or less stable but now the charts are not so good at predicting the winds. http://www.noonsite.com/ The link is to Jimmy Cornell’s website — he will be publishing a version of the wind charts updated more frequently.

        Anyway — it is raining hard here and will continue throughout the day. Problem is that tonight is when a small tourist town has their annual 3rd of July fireworks. In the Seattle area we are supposed to be seeing more sun and less or no rain. I’m wondering if we will have any summer weather here at all — or just a day or two of summer at a time.

        I’d like to send some of this rain the the purple dots in the Southwest.

      • dakinikat says:

        My dad’s been telling me about the Seattle weather. Frankly, right now, it sounds divine. I’m tired of the sun beating down on me. I want my tropical afternoon rain showers and they aren’t any around.

    • bostonboomer says:


      I remember that storm. You were fortunate to be able to relocate. The last time I lost power for a long time was back in the ’80s after a hurricane–I think it was Gloria. Our power was out for five days, and it was terrible. Luckily, it was in the fall so it wasn’t really cold yet–but it was in the 50s, so really cold in the house.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        But you will “love” this one:

        For Christmas my kids got me three of those LED lanterns, two new down filled comforters, and a portable radio for when the power goes out again! Not sure if this was a “signal” that except for the lack of heat, I had the “necessary tools” to stay home next time! I guess “one week of Mom as a guest” was more than they bargained for!

        Still chuckling over their “gifts”. Either that or they thought I would love reliving the “pioneer days”. Being without power for any length of time is frightening. I had to unload my freezer of over 100.00 worth of spoiled food so I can relate to those poor people now who are suffering through the heat without A/C.

  4. Yeah BB, great post!

    Did you all see the photo that was released back in May of what could possibly be Earhart’s plane undercarriage? Be sure to check out that link up top.

    All this news about the “god” particle is fascinating, I wish I could understand it more thoroughly…physics is beyond my comprehension.

    I see that people in DC are getting pissed about the amount of time that it is taking to restore power. This is not a “convenience” issue, this is dangerous stuff.

    One more thing: Litter Box Parasite Toxoplasma Linked to Higher Suicide Risk – ABC News

    The study, authored by University of Maryland School of Medicine psychiatrist and suicide neuroimmunology expert Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, was published online today in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

    The study found that women infected with T. gondii were one and a half times more likely to attempt suicide than those who were not infected. As the level of antibodies in the blood rose, so did the suicide risk. The relative risk was even higher for violent suicide attempts.

    “We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” said Postolache, who is director of the university’s Mood and Anxiety Program and is a senior consultant on suicide prevention.

    Y’all have a good morning, and try to stay cool.

    • Beata says:

      That T. gondii study is scary. How does a person know if they are infected? What are the signs? I have owned cats all my life.

      My grandfather, who was a doctor, always said cats carry parasites and would not allow them in his house in the city. He did have cats out at the family’s horse farm.

      • HT says:

        Beata, I like you have had cats for most of my life, and trust me, they are not the stressors that cause suicidal thoughts in me regardless of that T.Gondii study. Most of my suicidal tendencies have had to do with men – suicidal only because I didn’t want to be on an episode of America’s Most wanted for murder.

      • Beata says:

        Lol, HT!

        I find cats to be a great comfort and a joy to have. It’s difficult to believe they can be a suicide risk.

      • Beata says:

        I should clarify my comment above. It’s difficult to believe that a parasite cats carry can be a suicide risk.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Voice of reason on Vox Felina (such a wonderful blog in defense of cats & Trap/Neuter/Return) on the T. gondii research: http://www.voxfelina.com/2012/07/toxoplasmosis-and-possible-links-to-suicide-attempts/

        Personally, since my “fun” encounter with necrotizing fasciitis, I wear gloves when I scoop litter boxes – and I scoop LOTS of litter boxes. Because of my diabetes, the skin on my fingers gets very dry & sometimes splits. I try to avoid exposing open wounds to “nasty” stuff and wash my hands frequently. And I don’t garden or handle raw animal flesh.

    • HT says:

      BTW, the comment about men – not all men are horrible, certainly not the ones who post here and at Widdershins and other like minded blogs. And not all women are lapdogs – far from it.

    • NW Luna says:

      Toxoplasma cysts are also in the soil, so one could get it from gardening. Intermediate hosts are mammals and birds. Undercooked meat from cattle, sheep, or pigs, and raw milk from goats or cattle, may have live cysts also. It takes 1-5 days for infectious stage if in cat feces, so if litter boxes are cleaned daily there should be minimal risk. Many people have already contracted toxoplasmosis and are now immune to it. Those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women, should wash hands after contact with soil or little boxes — a good habit for anyone.

      Info from Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, American Public Health Association.

  5. Oswald says:

    Asked about the resignations, a church spokesman said the church loves and respects each member.

    “People make their own decisions about the direction they will follow in life,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in an email. “While there are very few who take this action, it is sad to see someone choose to leave. We wish them well.”

    Oh, the humanity!

    • dakinikat says:

      Wow …that’s insightful. Guess you like responses that completely ignore the issue and patronize people. That really says a lot about you since you prefer the shallow response over the heartfelt questions. The religion spends tons of money on anti gay and anti women movements and defeating civil rights legislation. I saw it first hand with the defeat of the ERA. It takes a lot of bravery to criticize a powerful and oppressive institution that actively works to remove human rights. I guess embracing fascism is more respectable in republican circles.

      • HT says:

        hear hear! But it’s XXXXX so …… Wonder why he’s hiding behind the Oswald identity.

      • HT says:

        Seriously, it’s about blog ratings? How sad is that. I tried reading his stuff, but he’s attracted a whole group of right wingers that are just ridiculous. Why is he coming here? He knows his views are not liberal, he knows that his readers are beyond the pale. Why? and yes I get the business involved – but there comes a time where one has to stand by his/her beliefs regardless of monetary issues. I am sad that Myiq/aka Oswald has degenerated to this extent. I used to like him.

      • bostonboomer says:

        HT, you got it backwards. Their blog numbers are in the toilet. Ours are quite good. I was just saying they added to our total hits yesterday in a slow week. No one reads them except the same dozen or so Palin fans.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Not to mention that the church treats its apostates differently in private than they pretend in the media.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Please be aware that mentions of certain persons will land your comment in spam. It’s a protective measure–not personal.

      • HT says:

        Gotcha, thanks BB. I won’t mention again’

      • bostonboomer says:

        No problem. It just that every time I see that I suddenly need to take a shower!

      • RalphB says:

        BB 🙂

  6. Beata says:

    Great round-up as usual, BB.

    The Amelia Earhart story remains fascinating. Let’s hope the latest researchers are successful in locating remains of her plane.

  7. Fannie says:

    Yoo’s not making any sense: Roberts mistake was NOT of constitutional interpreatation, but of political leadership. Hell, when I studied the consititution it was not right for surpreme to be
    “Political”. Yoo says Roberts should get the consitution right in first place, then defend the institution second…………..isn’t this ONE and the SAME.

    Guess it doesn’t matter that not one from GOP has come forward with a plan for covering those without health care………..ooops, Romney did, something about borrowing some money from your parents, and starting a business………….

    Have a good and safe 4th July

    • bostonboomer says:

      John Yoo should be sent to a desert island for the duration. Berkeley should be ashamed to be employing him.

      You have a nice holiday, too, Fannie! I love it here around the 4th, because everyone goes away. There’s no traffic and my neighborhood is very quiet–except for the occasional firecracker.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Must read article on Mitt Romney’s money at Vanity Fair. I may post something about it, but want to talk to Dak first. Unbelievable stuff!


    • janicen says:

      Wow. I just started reading it and will go back to finish but I can’t help but think of the hand wringing and “Concern about his character…” if this were the nineties and the same things were being written about Clinton. He didn’t make a dime from White Water and the Republicans were hysterical about it but this, well this is just smart business.

      • bostonboomer says:

        This stuff is red hot. It must come out before November. I didn’t know until I started googling in response to that article that Mitt and Tagg Romney are currently under investigation for involvement with Alan Stanford’s ponzi scheme. He’s now in jail. Three of Tagg’s partners at Solamere came out of Stanford’s organization. In fact Solamere started as a subsidiary of Stanford Capital! This is huge!

        Another of Romney’s pals got in trouble today too.

        Robert Diamond of Barclays resigns.

        A disgraced London banker has rescinded an offer to co-host a high-dollar fundraiser for Mitt Romney, sparing the GOP hopeful the difficulty of appearing at a lavish event with a man embroiled in scandal.

        Romney’s plan to hold a fundraiser in London this summer with Barclays CEO Robert Diamond was reported June 28 by the London Telegraph. The cost of the dinner seemed to shock the British paper, which noted that “the price of invitations dwarfs the amounts paid for such fund-raisers in British politics.”

        On Tuesday, Diamond resigned from Barclays after his bank was fined more than $450 million by British and U.S. authorities for attempting to manipulate the Libor rate (London interbank offered rate), a key global metric used to set everything from credit card to mortgage interest rates.

        I thought it was illegal to raise money from foreign sources for U.S. political campaigns, but Romney is planning a big fundraiser in Israel too. What’s the deal?

      • RalphB says:

        It’s legal to raise money from Americans living overseas. Foreign contributions are still a definite no-no and very illegal.

      • RalphB says:

        Here’s a TP story about Romney and Stanford from 2011.


    • Beata says:

      Wow, BB! Thanks so much for the links and for staying on the Romney story. I really depend on you and others here for this type of information. In 2008, I had more energy to do research on the candidates. I don’t have that now.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Romney has so many tentacles everywhere that it’s hard to keep up with them all. I certainly can’t do it. This man should never be POTUS.