Archive for March, 2008

Don't Worry, Higgs Will Know His Own

Physics conspiracy: LHC could kill us all

Conspiracy nuts have suggested that it might also inadvertently destroy the Earth (or maybe even the entire Universe)

[B]asically the cranks think that the collider will also cook up either an exotic particle or a tiny black hole that will suck up everything around it. It’s pretty much bunk, as others smarter than I have said (here for example).

But that hasn’t stopped Walter L. Wagner, a botanist and self-proclaimed nuclear physicist, from filing suit in US District Court in Hawaii to stop the LHC before it destroys all we hold dear. Wagner wants a “full-scale safety analysis” to be conducted of the collider before its start up, hopefully later this year.

If we’re really lucky, the LHC cook up an exotic particle that will “inadvertently” destroy the crackpots (and maybe take a few lawyers down, too). Not that anybody’s planning this, mind you …

And it's "Typical" Data, Too

agree-with-theory.jpg

Random Nonphysics Link

The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You

Pay special heed to #5.

Quiz Time!

10 effects you should have heard of, over at Backreaction.

Full disclosure: I don’t recall hearing of #10, and I didn’t know #9 by its “formal” name.

snark: But I have heard of the ending-your-sentence-with-a-preposition effect. (it’s a weakly forbidden phenomenon)

Feeling Left Out?

Don’t worry. Physics has its own version of the EXPELLED! garbage. Well, sort of: Einstein Wrong – The Miracle Year

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Four and a half minutes of dreck, if you’re at rest with respect to your computer monitor.

Frame This!

Over at Cosmic Variance, a discussion about getting the message of science out, in the context of the recent EXPELLED! brouhaha.

To the Framers, what’s going on is an essentially political battle; a public-relations contest, pitting pro-science vs. anti-science, where the goal is to sway more people to your side. And there is no doubt that such a contest is going on. But it’s not all that is going on, and it’s not the only motivation one might have for wading into discussions of science and religion.

There is a more basic motivation: telling the truth.

I keep trying to add commentary, and deleting it. The post nails it, as far as I’m concerned.

An Enigma, Wrapped in a … Web Page

A paper Enigma machine. No, it’s not just ROT13.

This machine is compatible with the original 3-rotor German Enigma used during World War II. For simplicity it omits the “ring settings” and plug board, but the primary workings of the machine are captured in this model. Great as an educational tool, or just for fun!

I don’t have the brain for understanding advanced encryption, but I’ve read a couple of books about Enigma/ULTRA/Bletchley Park. Neat stuff.

My Drinking Problem

Is it a problem if you have to use a dolly to lug your beverage supply in to your office?

drinkingproblem.jpg

Cut me some slack — there was a huge sale. It’ll take days to drink all this.

Just Following Orders

I propose we run science porn.

Thus spake a site admin, and so I shall. Of course, because of my particular fetish, there’s no porn like AMO porn:

Lab Porn: Plasma! and Lab Porn: Doomsday!

Shoot, a feller could have a pretty good time in Vegas with all that stuff!

From Where Will Our Energy Come?

I ran across this blog post on future energy concerns — Less heat, more light: solving the energy crisis, and while much of it seems solid and there are some very good points in it, there are some things that are very, very wrong. And there’s this whole problem with conclusions drawn from invalid premises — you can’t claim they are valid, even if they happen to be correct; you can’t be sure if the correctness is accidental.

Basically, a discussion of how much energy will we be demanding in the future and where will we be getting it. World-wide we use about 14 TW of power (terawatts, or 10^12 watts) — for an idea of scale, that’s like having fourteen one-terawatt light bulbs — and if one assume a 2% annual increase in use, that will double by 2050.

The first issue I have is that the “let’s get more efficient” isn’t first — if the new real demand isn’t actually going to be 14 TW, then let’s use the real number as our target. So the conclusions about nuclear

A two gigawatt plant needs to be built every month from here to 2050. That will get us all of one (1!) terawatt out of the fourteen needed.

is a little off if fourteen TW isn’t actually needed. Also, the conclusions about how much uranium we have available to us

There’s lots more U in sea water, but if you think we should try the environmental disaster of mining seawater — to get 1TW of radioactive energy — you probably got that idea via the fillings in your teeth.

well, sorry, but snark isn’t science. Since we’re basically talking about filtration (technically adsorption on a polymer), the “disaster” part isn’t leaping out at me.

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