To keep ourselves updated about this Higgs particle and fields. Here’s a good blog about Higgs. Focus on the “false statements” and you will see how some of my knowledge about it were wrong. The thought that Higgs field interacts with all particles *with mass* was totally wrong — only elementary particles interact with the Higgs field. And not all!
For technical details, the “Addenda …” section gives good background. Cheers and happy reading!

Of Particular Significance

One of the big challenges facing journalists writing about science is to summarize a scientific subject accurately, clearly and succinctly. Sometimes one of the three requirements is sacrificed, and sadly, it is often the first one.

So here is my latest (but surely not last) attempt at an accurate, succinct, and maybe even clear summary of why the Higgs business matters so much.

`True’ Statements about the Higgs

True means “as true as anything compressed into four sentences can possibly be” — i.e., very close to true.  For those who want to know where I’m cutting important corners, a list of caveats will follow at the end of the article.

  • Our very existence depends upon the Higgs field, which pervades the universe and gives elementary particles, including electrons, their masses.  Without mass, electrons could not form atoms, the building blocks of our bodies and of all ordinary matter.
  • Last July’s…

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The Need for Working Smart

Whether it be studying for an exam, working for that promotion, playing your favorite sport, fixing up the messed up car, or decluttering our homes, everyday, we do things. Some people accomplish them better than others, some don’t. This is not necessarily because some people are just born better, or are more talented, but because there are right ways and wrong ways of doing things, and among the right ways, there is a best way – and some people are able to approximate that best way better than others.

In Physics, we might be familiar with the formula Work = Force multiplied by Distance multiplied by the cosine of the angle between the direction of the force exerted and the required direction.


The angle theta is the deviation from the best way of doing a certain task. The smaller the deviation from the “best” way, the smaller the angle. When the angle is 0, cos 0 = 1, and the Force multiplied by distance is at it’s “purest” so to speak. When the angle is 90 degrees, cos 90 = 0, and no matter how much force one exerts, that number is multiplied by zero, hence the work is zero. If the angle exceeds 90, the cosine of that is negative..

In real life, we can think of F as the best effort we can put into trying to accomplish a task, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that our F will be the same. The factor here that sets apart good from great will be how smart one exerts the effort – how one approaches a task such that none of the effort put in is wasted.

Hence, our goal here would be to get as close as possible to the ideal: the best method for doing a certain task, then focusing the best effort we can in that direction so that we attain maximum capacity. Of course there are different methods for different tasks, and that’s the fun part – we get to explore…

How to Accomplish at least 90% of your New Year’s Resolutions

The world didn’t end, the Christmas season is coming to a close, and a new year dawns upon us. If you are one of the many people who set new year’s resolutions but end up not being able to keep them, these ideas will help you. You might want to bookmark this and return to it periodically during the year.

Okay here it goes: Anything and everything, anyone and everyone, take the easiest course of action.

Sound unbelievable?

Let us imagine a very little ray of light we shall call Lumios. Now, Lumios needs to get from point A, his house, to point B, where he works. Being a ray of light, how fast he travels and the effort he spends is the same everywhere. Knowing this, he will choose the easiest course of action for him – which is in fact, the path where he would take least time. This is actually a general law in Phyiscs that is called the Principle of Least Time – that the path taken between two points by a ray of light is the path that can be traversed in the least time.

Think of the last thing you did. Did you not do it because it was the easiest thing to do, given the circumstances?

Your lifestyle is living proof that people take the easiest course of action. In general, that easiest course of action varies from person to person – and is determined by our knowledge, beliefs, and experiences. This is the reason structure plays a very important role in our lives – structure creates the easiest course of action.

But, as Officer Gordon said in The Dark Knight Rises, structures can become shackles. And indeed it’s true. We see it everyday in governments, companies, media, the academe, and anywhere if we take time to notice. So here are two clusters of steps to balancing it out and avoiding this dilemma: the first cluster, people hear about a lot. The second, most people miss.

Clarity and Specificity
Our mind loves to procrastinate when we don’t have a good plan. Procrastination is our brain’s way of telling us “Your plan sucks” (Newport, 2012). A good plan is clear and specific.

  1. Churning. (Young, 2009) Do this to get the boll rolling. You may write down whatever you wish. Keep going for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Selection. Among those you’ve written, choose those which are important to you (not other people) and list down the reasons they are so. Knowing why will motivate you even in times you’d want to give up, and they’ll also help you gain a clearer insight about whether or not these resolutions are worth having in the first place.
  3. Simplify. Quality beats quantity every single time. Setting resolutions is no different: accept the fact that you can’t achieve 50 resolutions at a time, or even 30. Take it easy; group similar resolutions and pick those that will make the most impact to your goals. When you’ve pared down to 2-3 deep resolutions, you know you’ve done a good job.
  4. Break it down! Transform the ambiguous and vague resolutions into vivid easy-to-do actions. Replace “be thrifty”, with “every night, drop 100 pesos into green piggy bank.” Replace “study harder”, with “every morning, lecture one topic out loud without looking at my books or notes.” Replace “sleep more” with “brush my teeth at 10 PM and immediately start preparing to sleep.”
  5. Ease-of-access. Post your resolutions in places you’ll frequent, or in objects you encounter a lot. For saving up a hundred pesos, you may want to write a note in your wallet. For lecturing topics, you may want to write a note in your planner if you have one, or your computer desktop. For sleeping more, you may want to set an alarm on your cellphone at 10 PM that says “brush your teeth and prepare your bed.” Different strokes for different folks. Get creative!
  6. Buddy system. Setting resolutions with a buddy has been tried and tested and it works! Your buddy can be your classmate, your wife, a work rival, your boyfriend, your closest cousin, your best friend, etc. – anyone, actually, as long as this person is someone you trust who’s willing to go through this process with you. You can use Google Docs (this is what my buddy and I used for 2012), a planner, a notepad saved on Dropbox, a sketch pad, whiteboard, a journal, or whatever you find most convenient.

Execution and Feedback
Willpower is a by-product of the immediate options we recognize. For 80 000 years, human brains have been choosing the easiest course of action. Creating a structure for following up with your resolutions is crucial to your success.

  1. Periodic Action. For maximum effect, review your progress periodically with your buddy and, here’s where you balance the structure-shackle dilemma, adjust resolutions accordingly. Reinforce or edit important ones, drop the worthless ones, and add whatever you may find useful. Any period from weekly to quarterly will do.
  2. Public Relations. Tell your friends about it; they’re bound to bug you every now and then; you’ll also be compelled to be more conscious about your actually achieving your resolutions.

Done it? Good! You’ve now just made achieving your new year’s resolutions your easiest course of action!

repost: “The Beggar Prince” column article by Patricia Evangelista


The Beggar Prince by Patricia Evangelista

Philippine Daily Inquirer

My name is Saturnino. I was born Nov. 29, 1964, in Calambayungan, Camarines Norte. My father was a fisherman. There were 13 of us children in the family; only two of us graduated from high school.

I went to Palawan in 1984. I got married, had four children, two sons and two daughters. I couldn’t support them with what I was making as a fisherman. I went to my brother-in-law, and he taught me how to make dynamite.

The first time, I liked it. One blast and we would get six basins of fish. It was harder after a while. We nearly burst our lungs diving for the dead fish. We used our own breath when we dived. I would dive almost 60 meters, then crawl maybe another 50 before I let myself float up. It was hard to dive that deep. When you hit about 35 meters you can’t dive straight down, you have to slide diagonally so the water won’t crush your chest. You hold your nose and let the air out of your ears to relieve the pressure. Sometimes I stayed underwater maybe two minutes. If you’re used to it you can go longer.

I did it every night for two weeks. We used light to attract the small fish. Then we would kill them with dynamite and wait for the big fish to come after the dead ones.

Life didn’t really get better. I didn’t earn very much. What I earned in those two weeks wasn’t very much, because the ingredients for dynamite are very expensive and then there was the rental for the boat.

One of my brothers died suddenly of tetanus at the end of those two weeks. On the night before his burial, I went out to sea so there would be money for food for the mourners. There were two of us; the other one was a first-timer. We took the boat to where the big fish were, near the corals. It must have been over 120 meters deep. I set the lights. We waited an hour for the fish to come. I had 19 sticks of dynamite. Eighteen were behind me. I had one in my hand. I lit a cigarette and used it to light the dynamite stick. The wick was about two inches long. That was 7:30 p.m. It was drizzling, and the wick was damp. I decided to cut down the wick. I had the knife in my left hand, the dynamite in my right. When I started cutting through the wick, the whole thing exploded in my hands.

I flew up, then landed on the boat. I was lucky. But there was a hole in my neck, and on my lower leg. Even now you can see some of the bone. One of my fingers went into my left eye. I didn’t lose consciousness, because I was with a rookie and we wouldn’t have gotten out alive if I did. We were lucky the 18 other sticks of dynamite didn’t explode behind me. I stood up. I didn’t want to die and the boy didn’t know how to get home. I saw the veins from my hand wrapped around two of my fingers that were cut off. My hands were gone. I could see my own pulse pumping. I had the boy wrap my torn shirt around the stumps of my arms to stanch the bleeding, but we couldn’t do anything about the hole in my neck. I told him to stick the tiller under my arm and tie my arms to my body with a long rope so I could stay upright and turn the boat. We raced down to the ports, I was steering for about an hour and a half.

At the pier I aimed the boat at the Coast Guard stand, hit it with the prow so they would know somebody needed help. It took four of them to carry me into a tricycle. One of the veins where my hand used to be was dragging on the ground; the men didn’t know they were stepping on it as we walked. I didn’t feel anything. My whole body was numb.

They put me on a wheelchair at the hospital. They made me admit I used dynamite before they treated me. I knew it was illegal but I said it anyway. The doctor pulled the finger out of my left eye and the blood came out. My head felt like it was exploding, the sound of the dynamite was still in my head, pounding away. They carried me to a bed and I heard people saying to just let me bleed out and die, because there was no way I would survive.

But I was still alive the next day, and the next. My wife arrived and she fainted when she saw me. She only stayed a week, because the waters were dangerous and we had babies at home and they barely had anything to eat. It was an old man recovering from a knife wound who would help feed me and wash me. I wanted to kill myself. I kept looking at the steel bars sticking out of the wall, thinking if I jumped on them I would die. But I couldn’t brace myself enough to jump. I didn’t have hands. I kept thinking my oldest was in second grade, my youngest was a few months old.

I stayed in the hospital a month and a half. When I went home I knew I couldn’t stay because I was a burden. Then someone told me I could go to Manila, that there were places that take care of people like me. I went with my son; we moved from transient house to transient house until we were brought to a shelter for the disabled. It was a roof over our heads.

We were standing one day outside Quiapo church. A woman handed me an envelope with P5,000 inside. We were stunned. I saved the money, and the begging started there. I would sit in the underpass and wait for people to put coins in my plastic cup. I was sitting there when I saw my wife wandering about. She had come to Manila from Palawan looking for me. At first it was the two of us working. She washed clothes for money, until we found out she had a cyst in her breast and that the work made it worse.

I have been a beggar for almost 10 years. I would sit all day on my small chair with a cup hanging around my neck. On a good day I make around P300. At Christmastime I get lucky and take home maybe P400. Some people give and some people don’t, and I hear them say I’m part of a syndicate and I don’t say anything even if I’m not. Some say I should find work, and I don’t say anything either because who would hire me, when I can’t even give myself a bath? There are times my chest tightens and I can’t breathe, and I pound on it because I can’t afford to rest. I have five children in school, because we adopted my sister-in-law’s child when she got sick. Three of the children are in Palawan, two are here, and we send half of what I save to my wife’s parents and the children. Their friends in school know their father is a beggar, and I told my son he should not be ashamed, because his father makes sure he can eat and go to school.

My eldest son will graduate from high school in April. My youngest will graduate from grade school on the same day. They want to go to college someday and I know no matter how long and hard I beg I can’t manage it. But I will try. I am still trying.

If I find the money for shoes my wife and I will go to the children’s graduation. It will be the proudest moment of our lives. Research by Aiah Fernandez


Finding other ways

Whether we like it or not, we’ll have to talk about money eventually. People, who don’t, usually get into trouble. That was the case of the former NBA Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson (2001), who earned $100 million throughout his American basketball career, and was buried in debt just last year. Usually, it’s just a lack of communication. We don’t like talking about money because we think we know what we’re doing.

But wait until you start recording your expenses.

University students are probably the guiltiest of this sin. We feel that we’re in complete control of our money. My parents give me my weekly allowance anyway, and I can ask for more in the unusual case that I run out of money (which can be more usual for some people). I have an ATM account which I can use in the future, which will earn interest over the years, and I won’t be poor when I graduate. And then there are my friends who are almost always willing to grant a loan, without the need of providing collateral, which they’ll probably forget anyway.

However, life after college does not work that way. It’s not a very forgiving environment. If you don’t have the money, you’ll starve to death; it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. These are the things I have learned through the courses I’ve taken up in Business Administration and in the various seminars I have attended in college. And I’ve also learned that there’s one way to get out of that bad habit of not caring, and that is to experiment with other ways of using your money.

The stock market can work wonders!

Fortunately for us, we have the stock market. There are two ways for us to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. One is to trade during the day – buying a stock at a low price and selling it after a few minutes or hours when the price is high. Another is to invest passively – buying stocks, leaving it there for several years, and returning with up to a hundredfold. Whichever path you take, it’s still a better idea than just dumping all your cash into the bank! So, instead of just letting your money stagnate in your savings account while inflation eats it up, why not put it in a different account that will give you much higher returns? And yes, even university students can invest well! Just ask this dropout who earned millions just by investing P5,000 a month!

Financial security can only be achieved by playing the game smartly. We don’t just earn money and spend blindly; we plan, and this includes planning where to put your money. Record your income, jot down your expenses, track where your cash is, and you’ll surprise yourself when you see you can actually save a lot more money than you currently do.

-Justin,17, BS BAA