Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
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
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?
Saturday, 27 September 2008
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."Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke. "Watson, you fucking idiot. Some bastard's stole our tent."
"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?"
A couple more jokes I like,
Is that Fanny Greene I see in the congregation?the bizarre:
No vicar, it's just the way the light's shining through the stained glass window.
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.
Friday, 26 September 2008
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...
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.
via The Silverback
Thursday, 25 September 2008
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?
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'.Thankfully there were some adults around with enough common sense to stop this idiocy.
"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.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
If you like comedy which goes WAHH! and EUGH! and COooOL! and is totally reality based, check out geologicpodcast.com.
Monday, 22 September 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
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!
Saturday, 20 September 2008
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...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.
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.
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.
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
I thank you all.
Don't Go/Hothouse Flowers
Friday, 19 September 2008
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent."epicurean." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 19 Sep. 2008.
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?
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)
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Followed by Richard Dawkins' letter to New Scientist on the Reiss controversy.
Michael Reiss has since resigned his position at the Royal Society.
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:
- Why do your 'interpretations' always sound as if you make them up?
- 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.
- 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.The Conservative peer and shadow minister for community cohesion and social action, Sayeeda Warsi was also critical:
"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."
"We must ensure that people of all backgrounds and religions are treated equally before the law."That sounds pretty clear. So where did this come from and why did I first hear of it via an American blog?
"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."
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.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.
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)
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.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.
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.
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.So these low-life thugs were allowed a second chance to terrorise their wives when they should have been imprisoned. That is unjust.
In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.
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.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.
"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."
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.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Saturday, 13 September 2008
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Hat tip to Shores of the Dirac Sea.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
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
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.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
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.
Monday, 8 September 2008
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.Strangely, I can find nothing yet from ESA.
ESA scientists are still investigating why the instrument switched to this 'safe' mode, designed to protect the camera from injury.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
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"
Saturday, 6 September 2008
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!
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.
Credits: ESA ©2008 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPM/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Friday, 5 September 2008
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
Thursday, 4 September 2008
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