Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Discovery Of The Higgs Caused Some Mass To Disappear

I mentioned earlier of the lost bet that Stephen Hawking made on the non-existence of the Higgs. This NY Times article describe all the other lots bets that were made on this Higgs. The most hilarious one was the one made between Janet Conrad and Franck Wilczek. They bet on 10 chocolate Nobel coins that can only be bought at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. The journey from there to the hands of Wilczek resembles a path that might have been designed by Rube Goldberg.

So shortly after the July 4 announcement, she sent Chad Finley, a friend and physicist at Stockholm University, to the museum, where he bought the chocolates for about $15. He could have then mailed them to the United States but was worried they would melt; instead he passed them to Szabolcs Marka, a Columbia physicist who was in Sweden at the time.

Dr. Marka took them back to New York and gave them to Matt Toups, a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Conrad who was headed for Fermilab, in Illinois, where Dr. Conrad was working. The pair wrapped the chocolates in plastic foam so they wouldn’t melt during the bus ride to La Guardia Airport.

Dr. Conrad picked up the chocolates just before a power failure sent temperatures in the Fermilab offices rising toward the chocolate melting point, and took them home to Cambridge, Mass., leaving them with her sister while she went off to a physics conference in Virginia and then back to Fermilab. She wrote in an e-mail, “I have not seen them, since they are carefully enclosed in their Styrofoam, but I trust they are in excellent shape!”

Dr. Wilczek, who is in New Hampshire, has not seen the chocolates either, but he said they had been delivered to his office.

So, did YOU win or lose a bet on the Higgs?


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