Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world’: to rationalize, to explain, and to master it. We endeavour to make the mesh ever finer and finer.
Karl Popper - The logic of scientific discovery.
Deep underground, physicists set traps to catch dark matter, neutrinos, rare particle decays, and other exotic phenomena. These protected subterranean lab spaces are highly valued by scientists in a number of fields for their isolation and their easy access to depths where geological and microbial processes help shape the Earth and the nature of life itself. (Illustration: Sandbox Studio; via Symmetry)
This image represents data from experiments at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source. Scientists used the light source to probe the structure of a protein complex called Photosystem I, which helps plants convert sunlight to fuel. X-ray laser pulses from the LCLS hit millions of tiny protein crystals at various angles and scattered into a detector, forming diffraction patterns. Scientists combined 15,445 of those patterns to get the 3-D visualization shown here. The colors and sizes of the spheres represent the intensities of the spots in the diffraction patterns. Researchers analyzed this information to come up with a low-resolution match to the known 3-D structure of the protein. The technique, which uses much smaller protein crystals than today’s methods, could allow scientists to decipher the structures of thousands of important proteins that are now out of reach, including many involved in treating disease. This research, reported in the Feb. 3, 2011 issue of Nature, demonstrates the evolving potential of light sources, powerful all-purpose tools for a wide range of research—and the ultimate “killer app” for particle physics technology. (Image: Thomas White, DESY; via Symmetry)