Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A bit of music

I'm too knackered to post about Phoenix so here's Ian Dury:

There ain't half been some clever bastards

Billericay Dickie is blow the belt.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 29 September 2008

Phoenix - These Mars landers just keep givin'

I have just learned that Phoenix has positively identified carbonates on Mars. Crucially, calcium carbonate, that's like chalk and limestone and wow! To me it implies standing water. More later... Grow into these trousers... >>

Colour perception

The Pooflinger has a great challenge for your colour/hue discrimination. Go visit and take the FM 100 Hue Test, arrange the coloured squares into smooth gradients from one side to the other. Low scores are good, zero is perfect.
I tried this on my LCD monitor at work (err, it was at lunchtime OK) and got:
  • Your score: 4
  • Gender: Male
  • Age range: 50-59
  • Best score for your gender and age range: 0
  • Highest score for your gender and age range: 1429
My problems were in a tight band in the greeny-blues.

Later on I tried again on my CRT monitor at home, after imbibing a couple of beers. I scored 16! Here are some screenshots of my second go.

My first result was like the left hand cluster of four. It just goes to show how our perception may change depending on circumstance.

Years ago I used to argue, no discuss, with my ex the colour scheme of our main room at home. We had dark burgundy red (IMHO) furniture with matching curtains and a carpet of browny/green leafy patterns on a dark red background. It looked very warm and comfortable and it was. It was somewhere to relax and just go Ahhhh!

She would insist that it was all dark pink... I could never get my head around that concept. Dark pink? Is this an oxymoron?
Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Amazing Colour-changing Card Trick

Prof Richard Wiseman (see homepage) is a Hertfordshire Uni-based psychologist and well known in the UK media. A few years back he ran a project to find the world's funniest joke, so check that out (see below the belt for my fav).

More recently he has posted some videos including The Amazing Colour-changing Card Trick which, given it's YouTube popularity, you may have seen before. If not :

Find out more at Quirkology.

Here's another from Wiseman, The Psychological Card Trick:

And I still can't map a binary tree to calculate how this works. The Prediction:


Regarding the funniest joke, I go for the runner up, but the original(?) extended version.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend awake. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

Watson replied, "I see thousands of stars."

"What does that tell you?" Holmes questioned.

Watson pondered for a moment.
"Astronomically it tells me that if I can see thousands of stars then there may truly be millions of them, perhaps many more. This suggests there may be many millions of planets. Some could be like the Earth and be cradles of life."

"Astrologically I observe that Saturn is in Leo. This portends trouble ahead."

"Horologically, from the angle subtended by The Plough to the horizon, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three."

"Meteorologically the sky seems clear and set fair so I predict that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow."

"Chronologically I suspect that humankind has been speculating on questions like these for thousands of years."

"Theologically, given all the majesty I am observing here, I can see that God, master of the heavens, is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.
What does it tell you?"
Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke. "Watson, you fucking idiot. Some bastard's stole our tent."

A couple more jokes I like,

the old:
Is that Fanny Greene I see in the congregation?
No vicar, it's just the way the light's shining through the stained glass window.
the bizarre:
Two ladybirds walking along a canal bank. One says "Oh, isn't it a lovely day?" and the other one fell in.
and the surreal:
What's the difference between a duck? One of it's legs are both the same.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 26 September 2008

Which Discworld Character Are You?

Are you a Terry Pratchett fan? Take this short quiz to see which Discworld character is you.

I'm quite proud of my result, it's just who I'd like to be.

See below the belt...

Your result for The Which Discworld Character Am I Test...

Susan Sto Helit

You scored 91 intelligence, 66 morality, and 46 physical strengenth!

As Death's granddaughter (a long story, which you greatly dislike), you inherited his ultimate practicality and lack of fear. In fact, boogeymen and other childhood boggles fear YOU. Often assisted by the Death of Rats and his raven, you manage to fix the Universe inbetween working as a governness and educating the masses. The ultimate teacher.

Take The Which Discworld Character Am I Test at HelloQuizzy

via The Silverback
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The answer to yesterday's connundrum

Pull up your trousers.

The answer is (ta^da)
The planet Saturn.

Universe today have the lowdown, but to me...

It's a map of radio emissions from Saturn, the Cassini mission has been gathering this data for ages. The radio singnals are generated by electrons spiraling around in Saturn's magnetic field which the craft then listens to.

See it here as a 3D space projection. Then listen to the audio again, just like you would on your radio set at home; kinda.

Now what was this thing about synesthesia? Grow into these trousers... >>

Syed Mustafa Zaidi convicted

Pull up your trousers.

Zaidi was yeterday convicted of child cruelty and given a 26 week prison sentence suspended for a year. From The Grauniad:
The 14-year-old, who was 13 at the time, told the jury that neither he nor the other boy wanted to injure themselves. He said Zaidi was insistent with the older boy, "pulling him and pushing him, 'keep doing it', telling people 'this is a sad moment and look, he's not doing it'.

"He goes, 'I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it'. He kept pressuring him, make him do the knife thing, pulling him, trying to get his T-shirt off, pulling and pushing him. He was saying, 'just do it, just do it'." He said the 15-year-old "swung it once or twice and said 'I don't want to do it any more'." The older boy was then pulled away by another man.

After the ceremony, the boys went home to their mother, who noticed several deep wounds on their backs and multiple slash wounds. She took them to Manchester Royal infirmary and the matter was reported to the police.
Thankfully there were some adults around with enough common sense to stop this idiocy. Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A demonstration of entropy

Via Cosmic Variance, the Domino Effect. This is jaw drop good.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Where come these sounds?

Listen to or download this and tell me what it's from. If you guess Hawkwind or the Twilight Zone you will be wrong.

Answer tomorrow. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

George Hrab gets better

I just had my weekly listen to George Hrab's podcast, and it's so 'wow' good. Listen/download the episode from here.

If you like comedy which goes WAHH! and EUGH! and COooOL! and is totally reality based, check out geologicpodcast.com. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 22 September 2008

I'm in a musical mood

So here's the Grateful Dead. Love this video!

A Touch of Grey[sic, UK variant] see Wikipedia.

"Ah well a touch of grey,
Kinda suits you anyway,
This was all I had to say but
It's all right." Grow into these trousers... >>

Sometimes the oldies are the goodies

Kinks again!

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Just for a laugh - Fork Handles

The Two Ronnies at their best:
Grow into these trousers... >>

LHC magnet failure

John Conway at Cosmic Variance has a post which I thought corrected my misunderstanding of 'quench'.
This was apparently due to a “quench” in which the magnet goes rapidly from the superconducting to the normal conducting state, which then means that the tremendous electric current in the magnet suddenly starts heating it up, causing huge internal mechanical stresses.
But on reading further I find my initial guess may be on the right lines after all:
While a beam of particles by itself creates very little heat, beam particles straying from the core of the beam will heat up surrounding material. It takes just a small number of beam particles hitting a magnet in one spot to raise the magnet’s temperature above a critical point, causing it to suddenly change from superconducting to “normal” conducting. This change, called a quench, releases the stored energy of the magnet and its neighbors; it can heat a small part of the magnet from -271 to 700°C (-456 to 1300°F) in less than one second.
But yesterday's press release from CERN definitely says there was no beam circulating.
Geneva, 20 September 2008. During commissioning (without beam) of the final LHC sector (sector 34) at high current for operation at 5 TeV, an incident occurred at mid-day on Friday 19 September resulting in a large helium leak into the tunnel. (emphasis mine)
I'm still confused! Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 20 September 2008

A setback for the LHC

After it's much applauded launch the LHC has hit a glitch and been shut down. A CERN press release today said:
Preliminary investigations indicate that the most likely cause of the problem was a faulty electrical connection between two magnets, which probably melted at high current leading to mechanical failure...

A full investigation is underway, but it is already clear that the sector will have to be warmed up for repairs to take place. This implies a minimum of two months down time for LHC operation. For the same fault, not uncommon in a normally conducting machine, the repair time would be a matter of days.
This doesn't seem to be a major or unexpected setback. As they say, if this were at normal temperatures the repair would take only a few days, but because of the extreme cold needed for the superconducting magnets the cycle of warming things up, making the repair and re-cooling the system could take weeks.

The main loss is time, sadly, and a few tons of liquid helium*.
The BBC calls the incident 'a quench' which to me implies that the particle beam has hit the wall of the tube. However the CERN report above says there was no beam circulating at the time. Hmmm, I'm waiting to find out.
* Listen here for a 7min podcast on the discovery, uses and rarity of helium on Earth. From Chemistry in it's Element. Grow into these trousers... >>

Passing this along

The Center for Inquiry.

Check out the podcast too, Point of Inquiry.

(via PZ Myers) Grow into these trousers... >>

A Brief History of Disbelief

Jonathan Miller examines the roots of his own disbelief and the history of atheism.

The quote from Epicurus is a remarkable coincidence!

Thanks to Online Documentaries 4 U, I've wanted to see this again for ages.

Part 1 - Shadows of Doubt

Part 2 - Noughts and Crosses

Part 3 - The Final Hour

Grow into these trousers... >>

Thank You

Looking at the site stats this morning I was amazed to find that 'Trousers' has had over 1000 page views in the past month, from about 350 visitors worldwide. That's almost three pages each!
I thank you all.

Don't Go/Hothouse Flowers
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 19 September 2008

Late night music - Otis Redding

Otis Redding
( Sittin' On ) The Dock Of The Bay
Grow into these trousers... >>

Weeing down my trouser leg #8 - Reductio ad absurdum?

Here's an Epicurean delight:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
"epicurean." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 19 Sep. 2008.

Well, there's a beer paid on for anyone who can explain the derivation of the term 'Epicurean delights".

Oh, and by they way, Reductio ad absurdum works like this:

(1) Assume not p
(2) Provide argumentation that derives p from this assumption.
(3) Maintain p on this basis.

(see The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Discuss. Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A musical interlude - Fleetwood Mac

Sorry no video of this (none I've found yet), but the best version of Sara ever IMHO!

Fleetwood Mac - Sara - 1979

Fleetwood Mac The Chain Live in 12 12 1987

Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A short but fun time waster

Fabulous graphics, quirky music, comical or just bizarre problem solving. If you haven't played this yet find some time to waste, set your browser to full-screen and enjoy:

Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

A gleam of sanity in Crazy Week

I admit I get too worked up sometimes, and this week seems to exemplify crazy, so it was good to read the insights of Taner Edis on the Michael Reiss/creationism issue and Sharia Law in the UK.

Followed by Richard Dawkins' letter to New Scientist on the Reiss controversy.

Michael Reiss has since resigned his position at the Royal Society. Grow into these trousers... >>

Is it crazy week and no-one told me?

After the creationism debacle I commented on earlier, have a look at this Channel 4 documentary aired in February 2007:
Divorce Sharia Style

I could have made comments all the way through but I'll restrict myself to my first thought.
Part 1 - 3min:18sec - Maulana Abu Sayeed
"We are representatives of the words of god. We interpret the words of god"
Three points and then I will move on:
  1. Why do your 'interpretations' always sound as if you make them up?
  2. If your god is omnipresent, omnipowerful, omnicogniscent and omnibenevolent, why are you even needed? Surely such a god could impart his directives in a fair and just way directly to those involved. Cut out the middle man.
  3. If not 2), then who are you to interpret the mind of a god? See 1)

Earlier this year, in the wake of Archbishop Rowan Williams' backing of the introduction of sharia law in Britain, The Grauniad reported:
Gordon Brown's spokesman insisted British law would be based on British values and that sharia law would present no justification for acting against national law.

"Our general position is that sharia law cannot be used as a justification for committing breaches of English law, nor should the principles of sharia law be included in a civil court for resolving contractual disputes.

"If there are specific instances like stamp duty, where changes can be made in a way that's consistent with British law and British values, in a way to accommodate the values of fundamental Muslims, that is something the government would look at."
The Conservative peer and shadow minister for community cohesion and social action, Sayeeda Warsi was also critical:
"We must ensure that people of all backgrounds and religions are treated equally before the law."

"Freedom under the law allows respect for some religious practices. But let's be absolutely clear: all British citizens must be subject to British laws developed through parliament and the courts."

That sounds pretty clear. So where did this come from and why did I first hear of it via an American blog?

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases. The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.

Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.(emphasis mine)
What if both parties don't agree? As was clear in the video, if one side happens to be female their rights are much diminished. Also I find the phrase 'taken advantage of' to be most telling.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said:
“If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.”
But it gets worse
Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.
And you consider this a good thing Siddiqi? Every woman in the UK should be horrified at this, and any man with a sense of justice.
In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
So these low-life thugs were allowed a second chance to terrorise their wives when they should have been imprisoned. That is unjust.

Go back to April this year, from a Telegraph report Dr Suhaib Hasan pontificates:
"If sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief's hand is cut off nobody is going to steal," he says.

"Once, just only once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all.

"We want to offer it to the British society. If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don't accept it they'll need more and more prisons."
It's not more prisons that are needed Dr Hasan, it is more mental institutions where dangerous people like yourself can be treated for their delusions. These backward notions of justice are not welcome. I wouldn't trust someone like you to flip a burger let alone make legal pronouncements. Flogging and dismembering people into submission is morally wrong. It belongs hundreds of years in the past, not in the 21st century.

Time and again this weak-willed government is pissing away the rights of us all in this country. I can't see Pat Condell being very happy about this.

What can I say? Not much. What can we do? Very little, so I leave you with Ceiling Cat.

Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 15 September 2008

A quick lesson on your company's IT dept.

How To Get The IT Department To Do Their Actual Job

So true. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 14 September 2008


Yes the best.
fish slapping dance
Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Sorry for my rant

I feel better now I have got it off my chest.

And then I watched this (1h:31m).

As a European, I am proud to be descended from my African ancestors. I can not think of a more noble people.
Thanks to Online Documentaries 4 U. Grow into these trousers... >>

Oh No! Not in the UK!

From Thursdays Grauniad:

The Royal Society just went down in my estimation. Big time.
Reverend Professor Michael Reiss, director of education at the UK's national academy of science said:
"I realised that simply banging on about evolution and natural selection didn't lead some pupils to change their minds at all. Now I would be more content simply for them to understand it as one way of understanding the universe"
Reiss wants the classroom to be broad minded and open and I would normally agree, but not in this case. Reality is not a consensus, though many think it to be so. Rather it is an endless learning curve. There is no vote in the 'how reality is' debate. None. Believing something is true, no matter how deep your conviction, does not make it true. Note this because the future of humanity depends on it.

Professor Reiss, I thought you would have been well aware that evolution is the best explanation we humans have for the existence of life; including ourselves. An invisible magician poofing things into being is not an explanation and is of NO scientific merit AT ALL (sorry for shouting). Add to this the observation that if these young people are unable to change their minds, why are they studying science in the first place? Science is dynamic in that if new evidence is uncovered, theories will have to change. This is called learning. Religion is static and dogmatic, it kills free thought and investigation. In an unchanging universe it may have a place but the universe we inhabit is not unchanging.
"Reiss, who is an ordained Church of England minister, told the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool that science teachers should not see creationism as a "misconception" but as an alternative "world view". He added that he was not advocating devoting the same time to teaching creationism or intelligent design as to evolution."
'Alternative world view'. WTF ALTERNATIVE!?!?!
How many alternatives do you want Professor Reiss? One each? I say again, there is no vote in the 'how reality is' debate. There are only the facts that our humble minds can discern from the majesty of the cosmos which surrounds us. Let us look. Evolutionary biology is supported by many branches of science including: anthropology, archaeology, paleontology, ecology, zoology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, geology, comparative anatomy, cladistics... the list goes on.

If you would care to demonstrate your 'alternative world view' please present the evidence.
crickets chirp
tumbleweed blows past

Oh, that's right, you don't have any.
"Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes," said Prof Lewis Wolpert, a developmental biologist at University College London. "There is no evidence for a creator, and creationism explains nothing."
well said Professor Wolpert.
Reiss agreed that creationism and intelligent design are not scientific theories, but he said that did not automatically exclude them from science lessons. "Just because something lacks scientific support doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from the science lesson … there is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have – hardly a revolutionary idea in science teaching – and doing one's best to have a genuine discussion."
OK, so lets teach astrology and an Earth centered universe in physics class, we can throw in the luminiferous aether for good measure. How about flat Earthism and the Noachian flood in geography, or alchemy in chemistry class, or π=3 in mathematics. Also, which creation story do you want to see taught? No doubt it's the Biblical creation but which one for the creation of humanity, Genesis 1 (see verse 27) or Genesis 2 (see verses 7, 21 and 22)? They can't both be correct. Furthermore, if scientific discussion has to include a Judaic/Christian/Islamic myth then we should also discuss the counterparts from other religions ie Hinduism, Buddhism, American Indian, Norse, Inuit, and a hundred others. Perhaps we should also include the Biblical teaching that insects have four legs, and bats are birds. How about the Moon being made of green cheese Prof Reiss? As you said above, "Just because something lacks scientific support doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from the science lesson".

I hope you now begin to see how your argument falls on its arse.


OK, maybe a bit of 'baby Jesus' is fine for the kids at Christmas, on the same level of fantasy as Santa Clause, but between grownups - let's keep reality real. OK? Please.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Weeing down my trouser leg #7

It's very late and I feel Kinky

The Kinks- You Really Got Me

The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
Grow into these trousers... >>

Late night music

The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA [Live]

There's another below the belt.

The Beach Boys - Wouldn't it be nice
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Has the LHC destroyed the world yet?

A thorough and in-depth analysis of the current situation can be found here.
Note: if you are interested, look at the page source code. It's cool Javascript.
Hat tip to Shores of the Dirac Sea.

Grow into these trousers... >>

A final farewell to 2867 Steins

It will be a long time, if ever, before humanity visits asteroid Steins again. Let's have a look back before moving on.

The mission plan

Below the belt is goodbye.

Rosetta's flyby of asteroid Steins

Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Late night music -#2

Elvis Presley, Hound Dog
Grow into these trousers... >>

Late night music

Ha Ha Great.

From Coyote Ugly - Blondie - One way or another

Grow into these trousers... >>

Why did Rosetta's camera switch off?

The answer - safety.

This is the best kind of image we will get:

Asteroid (2867) Šteins in color
Three color-filter images from the OSIRIS wide-angle camera were combined to produce this highest-resolution color view of the asteroid from the Rosetta flyby on September 5, 2008. Šteins is, essentially, gray. Credit: ESA ©2007 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / RSSD / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA

Tracking such a small object as asteroid Steins on its (slightly) uncertain trajectory and at high relative speed, pushed Rosetta to its limits. The spacecraft was operating totally independently during the manoeuvre and it was vital that some areas of the craft, the so-called cold faces, received as little direct sunlight as possible. The strain on Rosetta's systems unfortunately took the narrow-angle camera outside of its operating range and the camera did the sensible thing. It put itself into safe mode to avoid damage. All other systems worked fine.

The Planetary Society reports:
One notable instrument found the extreme conditions of the flyby to be out of its set safety parameters, and put itself into a protective "safe mode" nine minutes before closest approach, recovering a few hours later. That instrument was the narrow-angle camera on OSIRIS, which would have produced the highest-resolution images of Šteins. OSIRIS principal investigator H. Uwe Keller explained that the safety parameters had been set conservatively on OSIRIS because, as interesting as Šteins is, it is not Rosetta's primary science target.
Rosetta will now loop back around the Earth before flying on to its next encounter, asteroid 21 Lutetia, on July 10th 2010. Grow into these trousers... >>

Guess what? The Earth is still here.

First beam. Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Chilling out music

Or not

Cream-Train Time live 1967
Grow into these trousers... >>

Big Bang Week on Radio 4

Pull up your trousers here, here and here (lol).

Interest in the switch-on of the LHC is growing apace. Good ol' Radio 4 has some fun videos on their site and is running a day full of linked broadcasts tomorrow. There's a history of CERN too, I'm listening to part2 live on radio right now, but you'll be able to get them both from the BBC for the next few days.

BBC news has a page of video presentations explaining the layout of the LHC and the different detectors. (Flash based)

Also the Quirks & Quarks podcast has a special feature on the LHC.

No doubt there will be TV coverage too but I've already got a backlog. Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 8 September 2008

Rosetta camera glitch scuppers hi-res images

It seems a software problem on Rosetta switched of the hi-res camera so we will not be getting any higher definition images :(

New Scientist reports:
A glitch prevented the spacecraft from seeing the asteroid in even greater detail. OSIRIS's narrow-angle camera, which has a higher resolution, stopped collecting data minutes before the closest approach.

ESA scientists are still investigating why the instrument switched to this 'safe' mode, designed to protect the camera from injury.
Strangely, I can find nothing yet from ESA. Grow into these trousers... >>

Brian Cox hits back at doom mongers

"Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a t---."
Full article at the Telegraph. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Richard Dawkins at TED

Dawkins talks about evolution, atheism and religion:

An atheist's call to arms.
Grow into these trousers... >>

How and why and where did civilization begin?

A good question.
Online Documentaries 4 U is sctatching my itch just now!

The lost pyramids of Caral

'Where' is well understood: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Peru and Central America.

'How' and 'why' are interlinked I think. If you want to do something you will try to find a way.

"Why are you doing this?"
  "Because I can better feed my family"
"How are you doing this?"
  "By coming to work here"

"Why are you doing this?"
  "Because it's safer"
"How are you doing this?"
  "As fast as I f**king can" Grow into these trousers... >>

More on the LHC

Following up on yesterday's post, here are a couple of old BBC Horizon broadcasts (~50min each).

The Six Billion Dollar Experiment

What on Earth is wrong with gravity?

via Online Documentaries 4 U
Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Our understanding of the structure of matter is about to change

We've all heard the hype, the world is about to end! OMFG!!

The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, at CERN is about to be fired up. First beam as they euphemistically call it...

On Wednesday, after about 15 years of work, a science team numbering many thousands (to say nothing of the engineers, technicians, electricians, plumbers, cleaners, tea-ladies and PhD students) will throw a switch and turn on the biggest scientific experiment ever undertaken.

This project is huge with a capital HU!

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer was lucky enough to visit the LHC earlier this year. He wrote:
"It’s difficult to convey just how astonishing this all is. The scale of it is simply awesome. Standing off to the side, taking in the size and complexity of CMS and ATLAS, I was filled with a sense of pride. People built this! Every single cable (and there were miles of cable!), every rivet, every bolt, every iron block and metal plate, everything, was dreamed up, designed, redesigned, built, and assembled."
More from Phil later, but what exactly will this thing do?
I'll let the charismatic Prof. Brian Cox explain:

This is impressive science, a massive construction to try to observe the smallest and most fleeting glimpses of an underlying structure to what we see and feel in the world around us.

Here's Phil Plait again with his own video from LHC:

And listen to Phil and Brian in conversation on a CERN podcast
Oh, and the stories of microscopic black holes eating the Earth - BULLSHIT - see Hawking Radiation. The folks at LHC will know if they have created a black hole by its pattern of decay!
Grow into these trousers... >>

Asteroid encounter #2

Pull up your trousers: Asteroid encounter.

The Rosetta spacecraft and asteroid Steins have danced together briefly in the cosmic void. Here's the first image release from ESA.

Asteroid Steins seen from a distance of 800 km, taken by the OSIRIS imaging system from two different perspectives. The effective diameter of the asteroid is 5 km, approximately as predicted. At the top of the asteroid (as shown in this image), a large crater, approximately 2 km in size, can be seen.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 5 September 2008

Weeing down my trouser leg #6 - again

And then I thought... Lonnie Donegan wasn't so bad, really:

Lonnie Donegan's Skiffle Group - Puttin' On The Style

My Old Man's A Dustman Lonnie Donegan - 1960

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor - Lonnie Donegan

Grow into these trousers... >>

Batten down the hatches*

It's going to be wet:

via the Met Office.
*This a nautical term
Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Asteroid encounter

On Friday, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will do a fly-by of asteroid 2867 Steins a small rock, a tiny rock, about 4.6 km across between the orbits of Mars And Jupiter.
Rosetta is currently tracking Steins and will make course adjustments, if needed, aiming for a closest approach of about 800 km.

This will be a good opportunity to test systems on Rosetta but also fascinating in it's own right. I'll try to post some images etc over the weekend as they as released.

The Rosetta mission is very ambitious including another asteroid fly-by (21 Lutetia in 2010) and culminating in a six month study of a cometary nucleus (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014) where it will orbit as close as 2km and release a lander to the surface.
From The Planetary Society:
Rosetta will spend six months mapping and observing Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is only 4 kilometers/2.5 miles in diameter. Then, the spacecraft will release Philae, the lander, to the core for the first-ever direct sampling of a comet's nucleus. Rosetta will continue to make observations from as close as 2 kilometers/1.2 miles. Together with the lander, Rosetta will conduct a total of 21 experiments that will characterize the comet's dynamic properties and surface morphology, as well as determine physical properties of the surface and subsurface, and the chemical, mineralogical, and isotopic compositions.
Another mission to watch out for.
Image credit: ESA Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 1 September 2008

Weeing down my trouser leg #5

I just fancied a bit of the Grateful Dead, here's a couple of my faves.
From 'Dead Ahead':

Grateful Dead - Birdsong

Grateful Dead - Ripple
Grow into these trousers... >>