Tag Archives: science

One point twenty-one gigawatts!!!

The LHC is on, running at 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV). Protons have been smashed together, creating explosions that only house-sized sensors can feel. So far, no word of black holes eating all of France and Switzerland.

This does mean that the Tevatron at Fermilab, just outside of Chicago, has officially been out-gunned. I’ll bet the cows grazing above the Tevatron are pissed.

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Again? Really?

The Large Hadron Collider is going to be down for another year, namely 2012, so they can make it more robust and failsafe. In other words, they’re shutting it down for a year to avoid another 14-month shutdown like that of 2008-09. They won’t start running it at 7 trillion electron volts (that’s 1.21 gigawatts, more or less, right?) until 2013 at the earliest.

That gives the crafty, elusive Higgs boson a couple years to figure out its next obfuscation strategy.

CORRECTION: The LHC is scheduled to run at 7 TeV very soon (the Fermilab Tevitron tops out at 1 TeV).  After the year off, they plan to get it up to 14 TeV, as it was designed to do.

ANOTHER CORRECTION? The most recent thing I found says it is just now running at 3.5 TeV, and will get up to 7 TeV after the one year shutdown. But really, at this point, who cares? I know that the Pacific Ocean is a lot deeper than Lake Michigan, but if you drop me in the middle of either one, I ain’t makin’ it to shore.

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LHC: back from winter break

Here we go again.  Get ready for wacky hijinks!

The Large Hadron Collider was built to examine suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as an explosion known as the Big Bang.

“We’ve started up again,” said Sutton.


More on the LHC here.

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A very good read

This is a great perspective on the climate debate. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/feb/15/science-conflict-resolution

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Weather and climate change aren’t the same

This is a quick one. Plenty of people have been saying that this winter’s very cold temperatures are proof that global warming is not happening. Of course, if one engages in five minutes of study of global warming, one learns that global warming doesn’t predict local weather events, like hurricanes or heat waves or cold snaps. It predicts rising temperatures, on average, over time, which might lead to greater weather volatility, and less polar ice. Global warming models have about as much to do with weather prediction as your 401k has to do with intra-day stock trades and short-term commodities speculation. Very little.

But here’s an interesting article about arctic oscillation, the source of our current cold weather in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, this cold weather in our temperate latitudes comes with higher temperatures in the Arctic. Doh! The effects on sea-levels, however, are unclear, because the attendant wind currents might prevent some of the arctic ice from drifting south to melt.

Let us be more informed, and not base what we think about global warming on the weather we experience day-to-day.


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Getting in deeper and deeper over my head

If you, like me, are a layperson with a geek’s interest in science and access to the internet, you have probably heard about the latest antics of the Higgs boson.  Apparently, this self-hating god particle is travelling backward through time to our present in order to kill (or save) its grandfather with a baguette.  The good news is, we might be able to divine the will of the Higgs using a million-card deck, and save it the effort.  I’m not sure why we wouldn’t just take the next step and use a ouija board, but I guess that’s why I’m not a high-energy physicist.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, start here.  More on the baguette here.  Two interesting coincidences (or ARE they?) to note: the LHC was shut down last year after Holger Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya wrote the first paper suggesting it might never work because this universe will not allow it; and the baguette thing just happened last week.

What I find bizarre is how much the idea that nature-abhors-the-Higgs-boson-enough-to-prevent-its-discovery upsets other scientists.  Many seem to think it is just a hoax.  Some seem to think we’re devolving to reading entrails, and calling it science.  I guess it is likely that Nielsen and Ninomiya are not entirely serious.  Perhaps they wrote it to entertain us while they’ve been sitting around, waiting for something interesting to happen in particle physics, intending to sell the rights to Hollywood.  The title of the paper on arXiv.org brings to mind the recent, and brilliant, Onion satire of supposed Chinese industrial fasicsm.  But in the midst of the maelstrom of indignation from concerned physicists, and the background noise from relative (it’s all relative) beta-plusses like me, one Caltech physicist has the courage to ask us all to calm down.  And he has the cleverness to explain the concept in a way that I can almost understand.  Sean Carroll, I salute you for competing with phrasemongers.


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