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Posts Tagged ‘CERN

“Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines”*…

 

… they do, however, run more terrestrial risks.  The weasel above (a stone marten) hopped over a substation fence at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and was electrocuted by an 18,000 volt transformer (an incident that knocked out power at the facility).  Lest its notoriety fade, the once-weasel is about to go on display at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum.

The stone marten is the latest dead animal to go on display at the museum. It joins a sparrow that was shot after it sabotaged a world record attempt by knocking over 23,000 dominoes; a hedgehog that got fatally stuck in a McDonalds McFlurry pot, and a catfish that fell victim to a group of men in the Netherlands who developed a tradition for drinking vast amounts of beer and swallowing fish from their aquarium. The catfish turned out to be armored, and on being swallowed raised its spines. The defense did not save the fish, but it put the 28-year-old man who tried to swallow it in intensive care for a week…

The tale is preserved in full at: “Totally stuffed: Cern’s electrocuted weasel to go on display.”

* Steven Wright

###

As we hold the pose, we might spare a thought for David Wilkinson; he died on this date in 1852.  A mechanical engineer and machinist, Wilkinson (no known relation to your correspondent) played a key role in the development of machine tools in the U.S. (initially in the textile industry): he invented the metal lathe and process for cutting screws.

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Written by LW

February 3, 2017 at 1:01 am

I, for one, have always wanted to know…

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Readers will know the Large Hadron Collider, the massive particle accelerator built to answer such questions as “Is there a ‘God Particle” (Higgs Boson)?”  The LHC accelerates two counter-rotating beams of protons to nearly the speed of light and then brings them into collision inside giant, cathedral-sized detectors that study the subatomic debris that comes flying outward.  The folks at CERN, who operate the LHC, hold the world’s record for the highest energies ever achieved: the collisions of more than 10 billion protons per bunch at a total energy of 2.36 trillion electron volts, or TeV, per collision.

But the LHC raises as many questions as it hopes to answer…

Who hasn’t wondered, for example, what happens if one puts one’s hand in front of the beam?  Happily (if not conclusively), the folks at Sixty Symbols have gathered some answers:

As we think hard about wearing gloves, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that a number of meteor fragments fell near Murchison, in Victoria, Australia.  Analysis of the fragments has identified over 14,000 compounds in the carbonaceous chondrite; almost 100 of them, different amino acids, only 19 of which are found on earth…  encouraging proponents of “panspermia”– the proposition that life on earth was “jump-started” when key ingredients in the primordial soup dropped in from the Heavens.

Murchison fragment

First Takes…

The very first photograph was taken in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who aimed a camera obscura, which held a polished pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea (an asphalt derivative of petroleum), out the window of the upper-story workroom at his Saint-Loup-de-Varennes country house, Le Gras. After a day-long exposure, the plate was removed and the latent image of the view from the window was rendered visible by washing it with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum, which dissolved away the parts of the bitumen which had not been hardened by light. The result was this permanent direct positive picture– a one-of-a-kind photograph on pewter:

(For more on Niépce and the story of his pioneering accomplishment, visit the source of this photo, the site of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.)

But in many ways as interesting as the first photo of anything is the first photo of a specific thing.  OObject has curated a collection of a dozen of the most interesting “firsts,” from the first photo of a human face

Self portrait of Robert Cornelius, 1839

… to the first photo on the web

Les Horribles Cernettes (LHC... pun intended*), a band at CERN (where Tim Berners-Lee "created" the web), 1992

More– from the first photo of the whole earth and the first x-ray to the first color photo and the first picture of the surface of another planet– at OObject.

As we say “cheese,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1935 that George Gershwin signed his name to the completed orchestral score of the opera Porgy and Bess. The composer considered the 700-page work his masterpiece; many critics agree, considering this first American opera to be the finest American opera.

From the title page of the manuscript score (source: Library of Congress)

* LHC

I was expecting… well, a deep, booming voice…

Readers will recall the effort at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to discover the Higg’s Boson— “The God Particle.”  The Telegraph reports that while the search for the sub-atomic fugitive continues, scientists have determined that, when it is created at the Swiss supercollider– if it is created— ” it will sound like several coins clattering around the bowl of a wine glass.”

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Scientists used information from computer models to calculate what the creation of the particle will sound like, a process called “sonification”.

LHC Sound, a group of scientists, musicians and artists in London, has used data on the particles and matched it to qualities such as pitch and volume to determine how the collision will sound.

Dr Lily Asquith, who models data for the LHC and has contributed to the sound project, wrote on her blog: “Sound seems the perfect tool with which to represent the complexity of the data.

“Our ears are superb at locating the source and location of sounds relative to one another … We also have an incredible ability to notice slight changes in pitch or tempo over time and to recognise patterns in sound after hearing them just once.”

Read the full report here.

As we reinterpret the soundtracks of our lives, we might recall that it was on this date in 1742, in a letter to Leonhard Euler, that Christian Goldbach outlined his famous proposition, now know as “Goldbach’s Conjecture”:

Every even natural number greater than 2 is equal to the sum of two prime numbers.

It has been checked by computer for vast numbers– up to at least 4 x 1014– but remains unproved.

Goldbach’s letter to Euler (source, and larger view)

Answering the really big questions about the really small…

Under the Franco-Swiss border, near Geneva, there’s a new tunnel, seven miles long– home to The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.  Its first full test is scheduled for later this month; it’s “official” debut, for September 20, with full operation before the end of the year.

Among the hopes for the LHC, the production of “the Higgs boson”– a hypothetical particle whose observation would help confirm some of the predictions in the Standard Model of physics (and the inspiration for a nifty throw pillow that readers will recall was the subject of an earlier missive).  The LHC may also produce other currently theoretical particles– perhaps most notably, microscopic black holes… a prospect that some observers have theorized could threaten the earth (as in “could swallow it up”), a fear that CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which manages the LHC) has categorically and repeatedly denied.

But on top of everything else, the LHC is an extraordinary sight:

See more of this remarkable facility here.

And lest it be said that physicists have no rhythm, check out the “Large Hadron Rap” here.

(Thanks, MH-H, for the pointers to the pix and the video.)

As we unpack our microscopes, we might wish a careful happy birthday to Phoolan Devi, an Indian “dacoit” (armed robber), who was popularly known as “The Bandit Queen” and “The Robin Hood of India,” and who was born on this date in 1963.  After years of imprisonment for her crimes, Phoolan ran for and was elected to India’s Parliament in 1993, a seat she held when she was assassinated (ostensibly by a grievant seeking revenge for one of her earlier exploits) in 1996.

Phoolan, on the cover of her book

Written by LW

August 10, 2008 at 1:01 am

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