Here are two science-related items that are bouncing around my brain right now…

First, I read this news blurb just a few minutes ago. If it is verified, the physics community will be buzzing: “Particles Break Light-Speed Limit“. To put things concisely…

The idea that nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum is the cornerstone of Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which itself forms the foundation of modern physics. If neutrinos are travelling faster than light speed, then one of the most fundamental assumptions of science — that the rules of physics are the same for all observers — would be invalidated. “If it’s true, then it’s truly extraordinary,” says John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN.

Second, this news isn’t nearly as exciting, but it’s important for the people where I work: “FY 2012 Senate Appropriations Bill for the Department of Energy: Science“. In particular, I’d draw your attention to this section…

The Committee recommends no funding for upgrades to the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory or to build a new electron microscope. The Committee is concerned about outyear liabilities for major construction projects and upgrades to facilities at a time of flat or declining budgets. Upgrades to the Advanced Photon Source and the Linac Coherent Light Source both have estimated costs of over $300,000,000. The Office of Science should consider phasing these projects to reflect the highest priority or demonstrate how it can build both concurrently without significant impacts to basic research.

To be clear, there is still a long legislative process before this bill becomes law. Even then, I wouldn’t be directly affected by a lack of funding for the Advanced Photon Source upgrade. Nevertheless, this is sure to cause a great deal of disappointment around the APS, where this huge project was just beginning to really take shape. In all likelihood, this would mean a delay in the project, and not an end to it.

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