This is the pentaquark. It's smaller than an atom, and until now, no one knew it existed.

This is an image of an elusive, smaller-than-microscopic particle that not a single scientist on planet Earth knew existed before now.

Pentaquark rendering by CERN.


It's called a pentaquark.

Scientists have been looking for it for a little while. But thanks to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, we now know that it's a real thing. Like, for real for real.

Pentaquark? Hm. I guess I've heard of quarks. Is it kind of like that?

Yes! Quarks are essential building blocks of pretty much everything in the universe. If you stick three quarks together, you get a proton or a neutron. Stick a bunch of protons and neutrons together, slap on an electron or two or 37, and you get an atom.

The pentaquark is five quarks stuck together, in fact. Or, more specifically, it is four quarks stuck to an anti-quark.

There must be a German word for the specific mix of shame and pride getting this joke is probably conjuring in you. Image by Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr.

The discovery happened because, thanks to the Large Hadron Collider, scientists finally had the tools they needed to actually look for the thing. According to a CERN press release, "It's as if the previous searches were looking for silhouettes in the dark, whereas LHCb conducted the search with the lights on, and from all angles."

Which basically proves:

The Large Hadron Collider is awesome.

Image by Image Editor/Flickr.

In case you haven't heard of the Large Hadron Collider before, it's basically a giant particle accelerator that shoots two high-energy beams of tiny, ultra-microsopic matter at each other through ultrahigh vacuum tubes and around superconducting electromagnets at -271.3 degrees Celsius, which is colder than space.

And the only reason it exists? To smash tiny particles together.

And the only reason it smashes tiny particles together? To discover awesome new things about science.

That's plain fantastic.

Scientists will have to study the pentaquark for a little while longer before they figure out what its existence really means.

It's not immediately clear what exactly the point of pentaquarks are or why they matter. But the fact that they exist opens up a vast world of research possibility that didn't exist yesterday.

Eventually they could lead to all sorts of cool stuff.

For now, thanks to CERN and the Large Hadron Collider, we just get to enjoy the pentaquark.

Still feels weird, but good.

And let's face it. We've earned it.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

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@frajds / Twitter

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