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

It could teach us a ton about the universe.

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.

Heroes

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture