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Paralympic Opening Celebrates Science, Includes Higgs Boson Discovery

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Paralympic Games was held last night in London and included references to some very important scientific discoveries. This ranged from the Big Bang to what was apparently a representation of the recent discovery of what many are calling the Higgs boson particle. It’s a bit hard to tell, though, given that the elusive particle was apparently represented by a bunch of silver umbrellas.

Titled “Enlightenment,” the ceremony was meant to celebrate the many things that science has achieved and developed. In effect, they were linking enlightened thought in science with enlightened thought about disabled folks in society. They even got Stephen Hawking, probably the most well-known disabled scientist, to narrate it in part. It’s probably a good thing that he was there, as many of the, er, representations and visualizations don’t exactly translate terribly well for the average viewer.

Thankfully, CERN has also jumped in to clear up any confusion with a post of their own. That giant flaming umbrella? That’s the Big Bang. The floating apples? Representative of Newton’s discovery. Silver umbrellas? Well, that there is the Higgs boson, friends. Of the bunch, the apples were the most likely to be understood without explanation. The Higgs boson, however, requires a bit more explanation than gravity, and Hawking delivered exactly that:

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the largest most complex machine in the world, and possibly the universe. The recent discovery of what looks like the Higgs particle is a triumph of human endeavour and international collaboration. It will change our perception of the world.

Okay, well, that doesn’t exactly explain what the “Higgs particle” actually is. It’s not like the man had time to break everything down, though, so a summation that the discovery could “change our perception of the world” will have to do. In general, umbrellas were an important part of the ceremony.

(CERN via The Verge)

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