Heavy Rockets, Higgs and TV Science

BY Jenny Marder  April 6, 2011 at 4:00 PM EDT

Company Planning Biggest Rocket Since Man on Moon

AP.jpgSpace X’s Falcon Heavy rocket will be the most powerful heavy rocket ever built, primed to carry twice as much weight into orbit as a NASA space shuttle, according to design plans unveiled Tuesday by SpaceX. The company’s frontman Elon Musk envisions a trip to the moon, an asteroid or possibly Mars to bring samples of Martian soil and rocks back to Earth. But no paying customers have signed on for the first launch yet, this article points out. (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press)

At Particle Lab, a Tantalizing Glimpse Has Physicists Holding Their Breaths

A “bump” in the data at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory may be evidence of a new elementary particle, or…force of nature? Scientists say it could be the elusive Higgs boson, the invisible elementary particle thought to be responsible for endowing other particles with mass, the New York Times reports. The possibility has scientists at Fermilab, which is slated to shutter soon for good, both “cautious” and “thrilled.” (Dennis Overbye, New York Times)

Japan Quake: Nitrogen Pumped into Nuclear Reactor

BBC.jpgWorkers have been injecting nitrogen into Fukushima plant’s reactor 1 to prevent more blasts caused by hydrogen gas buildup. Explosions could damage the reactors and leak more radioactive fluid. Meanwhile elevated levels of radioactive iodine were found in small fish caught south of the nuclear plant. (BBC)

Killer Science Portrayed on Dexter and Breaking Bad

SciAm.jpgThis piece looks at the science sprinkled throughout television’s “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad.” Did you know, for example, that Vincent Masuka’s character on “Dexter” was sole author of a scientific article so good it was fast-tracked for the Forensics Quarterly. Impressive. And Walter White on “Breaking Bad” teaches “a wonderful lesson about treating chemicals with respect,” Steve Mirsky reports. If you’re science minded and haven’t seen these shows, this piece may sway you. (Steve Mirsky, Scientific American)