First Collisions at the Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland recorded its first particle collisions today as proton beams race round the ring in opposite directions. UC Davis physicist John Conway blogs about the startup here.

Conway writes that by the end of the year the collisions should exceed the power of what has up till now been the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Tevatron at Fermilab in Illinois, and reach a target of 7 TeV by early 2010.

A slideshow of some of the UC Davis physicists involved with the LHC is here. Just in case anything goes wrong, there’s always this panic button.

The Slingjaw Wrasse is aptly named

The Youtube page of Peter Wainwright’s lab in the Department of Evolution and Ecology has a number of high-speed videos of fish feeding, mostly by suction but also a few “biters” such as moray eels.

This video of the slingjaw wrasse in particular seems to have gone viral — and you can see how the fish gets its name.

A couple of years ago I did a story with Rita Mehta from the lab, who had used high-speed video to show that moray eels have a second set of mobile jaws in their throat that they use to grasp prey.

Superconductivity Award for David Pines

David Pines, distinguished professor of physics at UC Davis and co-director of the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter, has been awarded the 2009 John Bardeen Prize for Superconductivity Theory. The award was presented Sept. 9 at the 9th International Conference on Materials and Mechanisms in Superconductivity in Tokyo, Japan.David Pines

The John Bardeen Prize recognizes theoretical work that has provided significant insights on the nature of superconductivity. It is awarded every three years by the international superconductivity research community. Pines began his scientific career as a postdoc with Bardeen, who was awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize for Physics with Leon Cooper and Robert Schrieffer for their work on the theory of superconductivity.

Cucumber genome published: Guide to pumpkins and others

The genome of the cucumber has been sequenced by an international consortium lead by Chinese and U.S. institutions. The annotated genome was published online Nov. 1 by the journal Nature Genetics.

The cucumber genome will give insight into the genetics of the whole cucurbit family, which includes pumpkins and squash, melon and watermelon, and be a platform for research in plant biology, said William Lucas, professor and chair of the Department of Plant Biology at the University of California, Davis. Lucas helped with the development and management of the project.