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“Georgia congressman Paul Broun claimed after Tuesday’s State of the Union address that “There are more people killed with baseball bats and hammers than are killed with guns.” Explainer readers may remember Broun as the congressman who believes the Earth is 9,000 years old. What about his hammer and baseball bat claim? He’s wrong again, but he’s getting warmer. According to FBI data, 8,583 people were murdered with firearms in 2011. Only 496 people were killed by blunt objects, a category that includes not just hammers and baseball bats but crowbars, rocks, paving stones, statuettes, and electric guitars. Broun was off by a factor of at least 17 this time, a significant improvement on his estimate of the age of the Earth. The blue planet is 4.54 billion years old, or more than 500,000 times older than Broun believes it to be.”—
FJP: …but he’s getting warmer.
An Itsy Bitsy $716 Billion Medicare Q&A
From Kevin Drum:
Mitt Romney says that Obamacare cut $716 billion in Medicare spending. Is that true?
Yes it is. This is the most recent estimate from the CBO for the ten-year period from 2013-2022.
So seniors are getting screwed?
No, probably not.
Then who is?
Mostly hospitals and insurance companies.
Read the whole thing here. Knowledge!
Everybody Get Ya Bos-on
Here’s a linkdown smackdown to give you some background, explainers, looks inside the facilities, and what today’s announcements from CERN mean and what they don’t mean:
What the f**k is a Higgs Boson?
- A collection of one-page, simplified explanations of the theoretical Higgs Boson
- Matt Strassler’s awesome and understandable Higgs FAQ 1.0
- Fermilab’s Don Lincoln uses barracudas and guys who eat donuts to explain the Higgs in this great video (embedded here):
What are they looking for at the LHC, and how?
- The two detectors at the Large Hadron Collider that are collecting this data, ATLAS and CMS have semi-informative websites. (ATLAS is much more informative, and has some videos that could help).
- Matt Strassler again with a complete rundown of the experiment, the models they are testing, and how the results could impact physics
- The anatomy of the Large Hadron Collider
What did they find, and what does it mean?
- “I heard a lot about statistics and sigmas. WTF?” Sean Carroll with an explanation of “confidence” sigmas.
- SciAm has a tame and accurate rundown of the findings.
- Matt Francis has a nice writeup, too. Quite a few links of his own there as well.
Today was a resounding “maybe” from CERN, with some unfortunate use of Comic Sans on the side. They must collect a ton more data when they start the detectors back up in March 2012. They could either continue to support their initial finding, or they could collect enough data to disprove it.
Either way, physics (and life) will go on, and 2012 will be a great science year!
Behind the scenes of "Night Lives"
When asked if he wanted help soliciting ideas and sources for his Night Lives column, Style reporter Dan Zak said, “This is entirely up to you guys. Go wild.”
Working with Katie Rogers on the social media team, we used Zak’s theme for a local summer series to ask our readers directly: “What goes on in Washington while we sleep?” Specifically, we were looking for ideas to help source a feature story each week for an entire summer. We mixed a Twitter call-out using the hashtag #DCNightLives and a Google form to accept submissions. Fast forward two months, and Zak has written a total of nine stories, three of which were sourced from our initial request for readers to help.
Help Wanted: Stories of Unemployment
In an effort to highlight the people behind the numbers associated with the economic recession, The Washington Post is offering the longtime unemployed an opportunity to share their stories directly with readers.
“Help Wanted: Stories of Unemployment” is powered by six unemployment-affected families and produced by The Post’s Business section and Interactivity team. Throughout the summer of 2011, members of the families are posting their experiences as they struggle to pay the bill, preserve relationships and maintain hope for the future in Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, California, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
New Feature Alert -- Ask DiscoveryNews
Have a burning question you want answered or something that you want explained?
You can ask DiscoveryNews at email@example.com
Our writers and editors are here to help you (and us) understand the day’s news and events. So, does one aspect of a breaking news story pique your interest? Do you want to know where zombies come from, or why people shoot to kill rather than shoot to just maim? Or how to photograph today’s Transit of Venus? We do, too.
So, ask away. We will go through your questions and requests and try to help us all understand.