Cuts to NASA’s Funding

October 1st saw a near complete shutdown of the US federal government, cutting funding to several major institutions.

The lapse in funding severely affected operations at NASA, with 97% of the agency’s 18,000 staff deemed non-essential.  The remaining staff were assigned to tasks deemed ‘mission critical’ such as ground based monitoring of the International Space Station.  A spokesperson said “NASA will be closely monitoring the impact of an extended shutdown to determine if crew transportation or cargo resupply services are required to mitigate imminent threats to life and property on the ISS or other areas”.

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Higgs Discovery Wins Nobel Prize

During the Nobel prize announcements last month, Professors Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were honoured for their independent formulations, in 1964, of what later became known as the Higgs field.

At the time of the discovery, the standard model of particle physics was in crisis. Despite being able to accurately predict the existence of multiple species of particles, the theory was unable to explain why the vast majority particles have mass.  The theory proposed by Higgs and Englert suggests the existence of a field that particles couple to at varying levels, resulting in them acquiring different masses.

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