How to fix a particle accelerator.

Around the house you only need two items for carrying out necessary repairs. These are, a can of WD-40, and a roll of duct tape. Confused? OK, its like this …

  • If it moves, and it shouldn’t, you deploy the duct tape
  • It it doesn’t move, and it should, you deploy the WD-40

So that’s all you really need :-)

Ah, but does this model scale up? What if you are not at home, but instead are at work at say … Fermilab, and just happen to encounter an issue with the Tevatron particle accelerator, what then? Remember now, this is a complex multi-billion dollar machine that is about four miles in circumference and involves about a thousand superconducting magnets, which accelerate protons and antiprotons to super-sized energies. Also, these are not common magnets, they are cooled with liquid helium so that they consume only one-third of the power they would normally require. If you hit an issue, do you shut down for a week, and call in a team of specialists at considerable cost to pull it apart for repair, or do you instead get out your roll of duct tape and patch it up so that you can carry on with no outage?

And the answer is …

Read moreHow to fix a particle accelerator.

2010 Nobel Prize Announcements … so far

[Note: Updated on 6th Oct] The Nobel prize 2010 announcements are now trickling out , so far we have … Medicine: 4th Oct – The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2010 was awarded to Robert G. Edwards “for the development of in vitro fertilization”. … details here Robert Edwards is awarded the 2010 Nobel … Read more 2010 Nobel Prize Announcements … so far

Islam – Arrests and puts of trial two men for eating lunch!!!

Just to illustrate how crazy and totally insane some belief systems can be, we have the case of Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak who were arrested last august. The hideous crime they are accused of is simply eating lunch on the building site where they worked in Kabylie, northern Algeria … and thats it, nothing … Read more Islam – Arrests and puts of trial two men for eating lunch!!!

Anti Islamic statements …freedom of speech or a hate crime?

The Dutch Anti-Islamic politician,  Geert Wilders, is currently on trial, which should prove to be rather interesting, because he is also playing a decisive role in the formation of a new Dutch government. “The freedom of speech of at least 1.5 million people is on trial with me,” Wilders said on a social media site, … Read more Anti Islamic statements …freedom of speech or a hate crime?

Latest Science in the news

Here is a quick roundup of some of the latest science stories in the news during the past couple of days …

Dinosaurs Significantly Taller Than Previously Thought, Research Suggests

It might seem obvious that a dinosaur’s leg bone connects to the hip bone, but what came between the bones has been less obvious. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri and Ohio University have found that dinosaurs had thick layers of cartilage in their joints, which means they may have been considerably taller than previously thought. The study is being published this week in the journal PLoS ONE (Public Library of Science).

“Our study of the limbs of modern-day relatives of dinosaurs shows that dinosaurs were significantly taller than original estimates,” said Casey Holliday, lead author of the study and an anatomy professor in the MU School of Medicine. “The ends of many dinosaurs’ long bones, which include leg bones such as the femur or tibia, are rounded and rough and lack major articulating structures like condyles, which are bony projections. This indicated that very thick cartilages formed these structures, and therefore the joints themselves, and would have added significant height to certain dinosaurs. This study offers new data into how and why reptiles, and mammals, such as humans, build their joints with such different amounts of bone and cartilage.”

Holliday and Lawrence Witmer, a professor of anatomy at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, conducted research on ostriches and alligators, the closest, modern-day relatives of dinosaurs, and then studied the fossilized limbs of different dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex, Allosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Triceratops. The team determined that the lengths of alligators’ and ostriches’ limbs included between 6 and 10 percent cartilage.

Using a “cartilage correction factor,” Holliday determined that many theropod dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus, were only modestly taller whereas ornthischian and sauropod dinosaurs, such as Triceratops and Brachiosaurus, may have been 10 percent taller or more. For example, Brachiosaurus, previously thought to be 42 feet tall, may actually have been more than a foot taller with the additional joint cartilages.

Science Daily: Continue Reading …

Spring on Titan Brings Sunshine and Patchy Clouds

The northern hemisphere of Saturn’s moon Titan is set for mainly fine spring weather, with polar skies clearing since the equinox in August last year. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been monitoring clouds on Titan regularly since the spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn in 2004.

Now, a group led by Sébastien Rodriguez, a Cassini VIMS team collaborator based at Université Paris Diderot, France, has analyzed more than 2,000 VIMS images to create the first long-term study of Titan’s weather using observational data that also includes the equinox. Equinox, when the sun shone directly over the equator, occurred in August 2009.

Rodriguez presented the results and new images at the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome on Sept. 22.

Though Titan’s surface is far colder and lacks liquid water, this moon is a kind of “sister world” to Earth because it has a surface covered with organic material and an atmosphere whose chemical composition harkens back to an early Earth. Titan has a hydrological cycle similar to Earth’s, though Titan’s cycle depends on methane and ethane rather than water.

A season on Titan lasts about seven Earth years. Rodriguez and colleagues observed significant atmospheric changes between July 2004 (early summer in Titan’s southern hemisphere) and April 2010 (the very start of northern spring). The images showed that cloud activity has recently decreased near both of Titan’s poles. These regions had been heavily overcast during the late southern summer until 2008, a few months before the equinox.

Science Daily : Continue Reading …

Read moreLatest Science in the news

UK Centre for Intelligent Stupidity

An article appeared in the Guardian a few days ago announcing … UK Centre for Intelligent Design claims it will focus on science, not religion The Centre for Intelligent Design features a video introduction from Dr Alastair Noble, who has argued that ID should not be excluded from the study of origins. He says, among … Read more UK Centre for Intelligent Stupidity