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From the walking lungfish to the “God particle”: top science news of the week

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This week it looked like one of the most important science advances of the past 100 years would be announced. Scientists at the European particle physics laboratory (CERN) in Switzerland declared last week that they would be revealing crucial information on the Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle”.

Finding this elusive particle would confirm how elementary particles acquire mass, easily the most important discovery in particle physics of the last century. In the end, the news was not that eventful but fuels hope for a discovery in the near future.

Among the rest of this week’s news, you’ll read about a new research on preterm births, how a supermassive black hole will gulp a gas cloud and an African lungfish that has proven it can walk.

Here is a selection of the hot topics taken from our daily posts this week. Hope you enjoy them.

1. First glimpse of the Higgs boson.

Following the uproar of a potential detection of Higgs boson, it came out that there is not a firm discovery, but a possible first glimpse of this elusive particle. If this is confirmed, researchers at CERN could have a big announcement by end of 2012.

2. West African lungfish can walk.

The lungfish is believed to be a close relative of the earliest known tetrapods, vertebrate animals with four limbs. From the evolution of these early tetrapods, the two basic forms of vertebrates diverged into fishes and tetrapods. Scientists have analyzed this process to understand how walking started. A recent study made at the University of Chicago shows new data that can shake current beliefs. The finding that the lungfish, related to the first walkers, can actually walk means that walking could have started under water, and not on land, as was thought until now.

3. Preterm Births could be decreased by vaginal progesterone, study suggests.

Preterm birth is defined as less than 37 weeks of gestation and is associated with complications during the neonatal stage. A new study at the University of Kentucky may have a solution to reduce the probability of a premature delivery, applying vaginal progesterone.

4. Milky Way’s central black hole awaits approach of a gas cloud.

This is a unique opportunity to see what still is a hypothesis. “How a black hole swallows gas, dust and stars as it grows ever bigger,” as ScienceDaily describes it. Scientists discovered this week that the gas cloud was approaching our galaxy’s black hole and would be eaten by it, but the event will likely happen in a few years.

During the week we have also been writing about anything related to popular science on the United Academics blog. Check out our daily hot topic posts before giving your suggestions or comments:

Monday 12: Chimpanzees more closely related to humans than previously thought

Tuesday 13: Discovery of the world’s tiniest frogs

Wednesday 14: Evidence of water on Jupiter’s moon

Thursday 15: Spray makes you more social

Think we’re missing any important research or finding? Please let us know.

Sources: The Guardian, National Geographic, Science Daily, Science Daily

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  • laila

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