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Science/Technology

  • Physicists say they have found a Higgs boson

    GENEVA (AP) — The search is all but over for a subatomic particle that is a crucial building block of the universe.

    Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

    The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. The particle was named for Peter Higgs, one of the physicists who proposed its existence, but it later became popularly known as the "God particle."

  • Mars Rover Shows Planet Could Have Had Life
  • LA lecture to feature Sandia beginnings

    Sandia National Laboratories historian Rebecca Ullrich will discuss Sandia’s transition from a Los Alamos division to an independent organization during a presentation at 5:30 p.m. March 13 at the Bradbury Science Museum. The talk is part of the laboratory’s 70th anniversary lecture series.

    Sandia Labs’ origins are in Los Alamos’ Z Division, the engineering assembly and test support functions of the Manhattan Project. At the end of World War II, Z Division relocated to a site near Albuquerque where it expanded, evolved and ultimately became a separate national laboratory.

  • Wireless connections creep into everyday things

    BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A car that tells your insurance company how you're driving. A bathroom scale that lets you chart your weight on the Web. And a meter that warns your air conditioner when electricity gets more expensive.

    Welcome to the next phase of the wireless revolution.

    The first wave of wireless was all about getting people to talk to each other on cellphones. The second will be getting things to talk to each other, with no humans in between. So-called machine-to-machine communication is getting a lot of buzz at this year's wireless trade show. Some experts believe these connections will outgrow the traditional phone business in less than a decade.

    "I see a whole set of industries, from energy to cars to health to logistics and transportation, being totally redesigned," said Vittorio Colao, the CEO of Vodafone Group PLC, in a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The British cellphone company has vast international interests, including its 45 percent ownership stake in Verizon Wireless.

  • A Giant 3D Experience for Scientists

    Computer scientists at the University Illinois at Chicago have turned science fiction into reality with a wraparound virtual reality system where researchers can take a walk through their data.

  • US government tells computer users to disable Java

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advising people to temporarily disable the Java software on their computers to avoid potential hacking attacks.

    The recommendation came in an advisory issued late Thursday, following up on concerns raised by computer security experts.

    Experts believe hackers have found a flaw in Java's coding that creates an opening for criminal activity and other high-tech mischief.

    Java is a widely used technical language that allows computer programmers to write a wide variety of Internet applications and other software programs that can run on just about any computer's operating system.

    Oracle Corp. bought Java as part of a $7.3 billion acquisition of the software's creator, Sun Microsystems, in 2010.

    Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., had no immediate comment late Friday.

  • CES Shows Off Gadgets to Make You Healthy, Happy
  • Road trip on tap for NASA's Mars rover in new year

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Since captivating the world with its acrobatic landing, the Mars rover Curiosity has fallen into a rhythm: Drive, snap pictures, zap at boulders, scoop up dirt. Repeat.

    Topping its to-do list in the new year: Set off toward a Martian mountain — a trek that will take up a good chunk of the year.

    The original itinerary called for starting the drive before the Times Square ball drop, but Curiosity lingered longer than planned at a pit stop, delaying the trip.

    Curiosity will now head for Mount Sharp in mid-February after it drills into its first rock.

    "We'll probably be ready to hit the pedal to the metal and give the keys back to the rover drivers," mission chief scientist John Grotzinger said in a recent interview at his office on the sprawling NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

  • Swiss Pilots Plan Solar-powered US Flight

    On their journey to become the first pilots of a solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the globe, night and day, two Swiss aviation pioneers are planning to fly cross the continental United States in 2013.

  • Mars rover Curiosity: No surprise in 1st soil test

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA's Curiosity rover has indeed found something in the Martian dirt. But so far, there's no definitive sign of the chemical ingredients necessary to support life.

    A scoop of sandy soil analyzed by Curiosity's sophisticated chemistry laboratory contained water and a mix of chemicals, but not complex carbon-based molecules considered essential for life.

    That the soil was not more hospitable did not surprise mission scientist Paul Mahaffy since radiation from space can destroy any carbon evidence.

    "It's not unexpected necessarily," said Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who is in charge of the chemistry experiments. "It's been exposed to the harsh Martian environment."