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Posts Tagged ‘higgs boson

What’s (the) matter?…

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On the heels of yesterday’s film recommendation, another… albeit somewhat different:  Stanford physics professor, Leonard Susskind, one of the fathers of string theory, articulator of the Holographic Principle,  and explainer of the Megaverse, has a gift for making science accessible… a gift that is on display in this lecture, “Demystifying the Higgs Boson“:

(email readers, click here)

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As we say “ahh,” we might spare a thought for Pierre de Fermat; he died on this date in 1665.  With Descartes, one of the two great mathematicians of the first half of the Seventeenth Century, Fermat made a wide range of contributions (that advanced, among other fronts, the development of Calculus) and is regarded as the Father of Number Theory.  But he is best remembered as the author of Fermat’s Last Theorem.* Fermat had written the theorem, in 1637, in the margin of a copy of Diophantus’ Arithmetica– but went on to say that, while he had a proof, it was too large to fit in the margin.  He never got around to committing his proof to writing; so mathematicians started, from the time of his death, to try to derive one.  While the the theorem was demonstrated for a small number of cases early on, a complete proof became the “white whale” of math, eluding its pursuers until 1995, when Andrew Wiles finally published a proof.

* the assertion that no three positive integers ab, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than two

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Written by LW

January 12, 2013 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

God to “God Particle” hunters: “Forget it”…

The Baguette Incident (source: foxypar4/flickr, via PopSci)

Pity the poor Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, built to find the Higgs Boson— the “God Particle.”  It just can’t seem to find its feet.

First, a coolant leak destroyed some of the magnets that guide the energy beam. Then LHC officials postponed the restart of the machine to add additional safety features. Now, a piece of bread droped by a bird on a section of the accelerator has, according to the Register, shut down the whole operation.

The bird dropped some bread on an outdoor section of the gigantic device, eventually leading to significant over heating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic fail-safes would have shut it down.

Was the baguette an accident?  Two scientists have theorized that the LHC is sabotaging itself from the future, to prevent mankind discovering the elusive Higgs Boson particle (link to paper at arXiv.org here); others have sued to shut down the LHC “before it destroys the world.”

More, at PopSci.com.

As we spin the arrow of time, we might recall that first Flying Trapeze act was performed in Paris on this date in 1859 by Jules Leotard (who also designed the garment that bears his name).

Jules Leotard

The link missing in yesterday’s post– to the physics paper suggesting that the Large Hadron Collider may be sabotaging itself from the future– is restored.  Apologies.

Written by LW

November 12, 2009 at 1:01 am

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