Eight months ago, CERN physicists told the world that they'd almost certainly found the elusive Higgs boson, the "God particle." Now, researchers say there's no "almost" about it—the particle acts exactly the way the Higgs is supposed to. The positive identification means that CERN has stopped calling the particle "Higgs-like," and started calling it "Higgs."
At some point in the distant past, Mars sported an intensely habitable environment. In fact, Mars was once wetted by water so benign that human beings could have taken a swig. But despite finding evidence of martian water, Curiosity has yet to unearth any signs of the life it might have sustained. Don't give up hope yet—Curiosity will drill for another sample in a few months and could move to the promising Mount Sharp by the end of the year.
In case the lack of life on Mars wasn't disappointing enough, it appears there may not be life in Antarctica's Lake Vostok either. Last week, the Russian team that drilled into the subglacial lake reported finding a new species of bacteria in their sample. But just days later, one of the team members called the results into question, saying the bacteria found was the result of contamination. Although they're not ruling anything out, the team will have to wait until fresh samples arrive sometime in the next year for any definitive conclusions.
A little trigger-happy with the Facebook "Like" button? Be careful—it could be spilling all your secrets! Researchers have combined Facebook like data with information gathered from a personality survey to figure out whether likes can predict personality traits. It turns out that they can, and incredibly well. Sexual orientation, religion, and even drug use can all be inferred with surprising accuracy.
Bacteria outnumber human cells in our bodies by 10 to 1. Now, a study of roller derby players has shown that we can transfer bacteria to one another via simple skin-to-skin contact. After an hourlong, full-contact tournament, each team managed to swap some of the bacteria living on their skin with their opponents and change each other's microbiomes. The results help shed light on how our daily interactions change our unique bacterial cocktail.