10 things you need to know today: July 4, 2012

The Week

Scientists announce a likely "God particle" discovery, hot-dog-eating champions defend their titles, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

Scientists say they have likely found "the most sought-after particle in physics." At a seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, researchers announced that they had found a new particle with the characteristics of the Higgs boson, or "God Particle," which is believed to give objects their mass and function as a sort of "invisible glue" that holds the universe together. If scientists have indeed found the Higgs boson, it could help unlock the secrets of the universe and its origins. "We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," Rolf Heuer, the director general for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the organization that conducted experiments in search of the particle, says. "The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe." The discovery of the long-sought-after particle would rank as one of the biggest scientific achievements in the last 50 years. [CNN]

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut and Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas are set to defend their titles on Wednesday at the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut, last year's male champion, is going for his sixth title and hoping to beat his record of 68 dogs and buns in 10 minutes. Thomas, who weighs just 100 pounds, is looking to keep her female championship title; her record is 41 hot dogs and buns. [CNN]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 11, 2012

Some 1.1 million households across 11 states are still without power Wednesday morning, an improvement from 1.8 million earlier in the week and 4 million over the weekend, but still a great number suffering scorching temperatures without air conditioning. At least 20 people have been killed in the heat-related storms; heat advisory and excessive heat warnings are in place for the holiday for portions of a number of states, from South Dakota to Kentucky. [CNN]

The U.S. and other major powers made an agreement with Iran on Wednesday to consider restarting their stalled nuclear negotiations. It was agreed that the "Moscow plan" would be implemented. Under the plan, senior European Union official Helga Schimid and her Iranian counterpart, Ali Bagheri, will have an official meeting to decide whether full-scale negotiations should resume. [McClatchy Tribune]

SEE ALSO: Can Mexico's new president end the drug wars?

Officials believe that target shooting and other gunfire are responsible for starting at least 30 wildfires in Idaho and Utah, as well as others in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. The public is being asked to limit recreational shooting or use special bullets as the West battles one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. Lawmakers have been hesitant to restrict gun use because of Second Amendment rights, but some legislators have found loopholes allowing states to act in an emergency. [Associated Press]

Scientists have found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210, a poisonous element, on the belongings of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Arafat died in 2004, and it has long been thought that he was poisoned. Some researchers caution that the ailing Arafat's symptoms were not consistent with polonium-210. His widow has reportedly demanded that his body be exhumed for more investigation and research. [Reuters]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: June 27, 2012

Forbes reports that Tom Cruise raked in $75 million from May 2011 to May 2012, putting him at the top of Hollywood's list of the highest-paid actors. Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler tied for second place, with each earning an estimated $37 million. Cruise's wife, Katie Holmes, recently filed for divorce. Forbes]

A federal judge has ruled that JetBlue pilot Clayton F. Osbon is not guilty of interfering with a flight crew, by reasons of insanity. On a flight from Las Vegas to New York in late March, Osbon left the cockpit and went on a screaming rant about terrorists and religion. The judge has ordered that Osbon be sent to a mental health facility for more examination until another hearing in the coming weeks that will determine whether it is safe for him to be released or if he should be committed. [Associated Press]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 6, 2012

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved OraSure Technologies' OraQuick test, allowing Americans to determine for the first time if they are infected with H.I.V. from the privacy of their own homes. The test relies on a mouth swab and delivers results in 20 to 40 minutes. It should be in stores by October. The F.D.A. cautions that any positive home test results be confirmed by a doctor. Approximately one in 12 people could get a false positive, but the likelihood of a false negative is far less likely: About one in 5,000. New York Times]

Documents disclosed this week in relation to a $3 billion settlement with GlaxoSmithKline for illegal pharmaceutical marketing reveal that Dr. Drew Pinsky was paid more than half a million dollars to tout the benefits of the anti-depressant Wellbutrin on the popular radio show Loveline in the late '90s. Dr. Drew told listeners that Wellbutrin "may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal" like other antidepressants, something that the drug's prescription label doesn't state. In response to the payments being revealed, Pinsky issued a statement saying that his comments about Wellbutrin "were consistent with my clinical experience."[Wall Street Journal]

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know today: July 2, 2012

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