Nobel Prizes and an Astronaut Mourned

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It was Nobel Prize week, with many of the honors going to scientists at American universities. But there was plenty of news in other quarters, from Hawaii to Neptune, from lost lizards to a lost moon.

Developments

Physics

A Theory, Then a Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Peter W. Higgs of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and François Englert of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium for their theory, first put forth in 1964, that there is a particle that confers mass to other particles. It took some time to find it, but using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland last year, scientists finally established the existence of Dr. Higgs's namesake particle -- the Higgs boson.

Medicine and Chemistry

Nobels, Continued

Researchers at Yale, Berkeley and Stanford shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their elucidation of the complex system by which molecules are moved around inside cells to allow the cells to accomplish their functions. And the prize for Chemistry went to researchers at the University of Strasbourg in France, Stanford and the University of Southern California for creating computer simulations to study complex molecular reactions like photosynthesis.

Climate

Hot Times Ahead

Researchers at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, calculated that by about 2047 the average temperature over half the earth's surface will be higher than in any year between 1860 and 2005. The prediction is based on computer models that also estimate that the hottest weather could be delayed by several decades if carbon emissions are brought under control.

Astronomy

Lost and Found (Part 1)

Astronomers glimpsed a moon of Neptune in 1989 as the Voyager 2 swept by the planet, but then lost sight of it for more than 20 years. Last Tuesday, scientists at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society announced that they had relocated it. Using the Hubble Telescope, they spotted Naiad, as it is called, a tiny dot of light a million times fainter than Neptune, and the innermost of the planet's 14 known moons.

Animal Species

Lost and Found (Part 2)

The Pinocchio lizard, Anolis proboscis, has been found alive in northwest Ecuador. It was first described in 1953, but for many years nobody saw one and it was presumed extinct. Then some bird-watchers photographed one in 2005. Now scientists have had a close look at it in the flesh. The lizard, named for the male's prodigious nose, hides by day high in the trees. But at night it rests, a pale shade of white, at the ends of branches. A team of National Geographic researchers found one, held it until daylight to photograph it, and let it go.

Pioneers

A 'Right Stuff' Astronaut Dies

M. Scott Carpenter, one of the seven Project Mercury astronauts and the second American to orbit Earth, died at 88. His five-hour journey in the Aurora 7 capsule in 1962 ended with a splashdown almost 300 miles from the nearest recovery ship. Mr. Carpenter, who never flew in space again, became involved in environmental research, and in 1965 spent a month living in an experimental underwater habitat. His death leaves John H. Glenn Jr. as the only surviving member of the seven.

Coming Up

Space Exploration

Hello, I Must Be Going

NASA's Juno spacecraft, launched on Aug. 5, 2011, circled back to about 350 miles from Earth to use its gravity as a slingshot to shoot it toward Jupiter, where it will orbit for a full Earth year, studying the Jovian atmosphere and gravitational field. Juno was moving along at 78,000 miles an hour as it flew out to the asteroid belt and back toward Earth, but the flyby will speed it up to 87,000 miles an hour, a velocity that will bring the 8,000-pound probe to Jupiter around July 2016.

science

This article originally appeared in The New York Times. First Published October 16, 2013 2:01 PM


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