Monday, October 31, 2011

The way it is done...neutrino experiment

"European Physicists Will Race Neutrinos Again, Trying to Reproduce Faster-Than-Light Results"


Rebecca Boyle

October 31st, 2011


The physicists who claimed to see neutrinos moving faster than light are moving quickly to replicate their experiment, hoping to substantiate their results before submitting them for publication. Since announcing their bizarre, seemingly impossible findings last month, physicists around the world have offered a few possible explanations. But perhaps the best test will be a retest.

The OPERA experiment sends a beam of neutrinos from CERN in Geneva, through the mountains to Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory. The point is to look for flip-flops in neutrino flavor, which requires precisely measuring and averaging the chargeless particles’ arrival and departure times. It was in this routine timing that a team led by Antonio Ereditato found particles apparently moving faster than light. They were arriving at Gran Sasso about 60 nanoseconds earlier than the time it would take light to travel the same distance.

This violates the known laws of physics, but the OPERA collaborators saw it happen so frequently that it couldn’t be a fluke; they released their findings to the greater scientific community, hoping for some insight. Several other physicists have since proposed new theoretical explanations, including the possibility that the clocks on the GPS satellites used for the precise arrival-departure timing do not themselves account for relativistic motion. Other researchers have said the OPERA team must be committing some unknown and repeated systematic error. This is part of the team’s motivation for rechecking their findings, according to BBC News. CERN research leader Sergio Bertolucci said the team is sending a different time pattern, which will allow OPERA to repeat the measurement with different data. This could remove some of the possible systematic errors, he said.

Bertolucci said the experimenters would not “fool around,” given the physics-shattering implications of the results.

The new measurements will fire protons in super-short bursts (one or two nanoseconds), then wait about 500 nanoseconds before firing another burst. The short burst will allow for precise measurements and efficient neutrino monitoring, Bertolucci told BBC. Originally, the protons were fired in a long beam lasting a comparatively long 10 microseconds. This new beam run will end in November, when CERN has to switch the type of particles it is accelerating. Then the team will re-check its calculations and submit their findings for publication, BBC says.

“They actually planned to make the results public in 2015, but they traveled faster than light and came out last month,” says Associate Editor Paul.

Chinese women in space...married, of course

What a strange statement...

"We believe married women would be more physically and psychologically mature," Zhang said.

"China to Send First (Married) Female Astronauts to Space in 2012"


Sara Yin

October 31st, 2011


China may be launching its first women into space next year, according to government mouthpiece, Xinhua.

The two unnamed women are around 30 years old, fighter pilots from the People's Liberation Army, and perhaps most importantly, they are married—but not to each other. In an interview last year with Zhang Jianqi, former deputy commander of the country's manned space program, the only difference in requirements set for Chinese male and female candidates was that the women be married.

"We believe married women would be more physically and psychologically mature," Zhang said.

The female astronauts, or "taikonauts" as local English journalists call them because "tai ko" means "space" in Chinese, might join seven men for a space docking mission at Tiangong-1 ("Heavenly Palace," a space lab module being used to test docking abilities to support a larger space station complex.

"We must assess both male and female astronauts to verify if human beings can live in space as there are huge differences between men and women in spite of their common generalities," Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China, told Xinhua.

In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell said that the "personal hygiene aspects of being a woman" were especially challenging. "Suits weren't designed with us in mind," she said. "When you have to go to the bathroom, the whole flight suit has to come off. That's not cool. Also, the toilet on board the ISS was designed by the Russians and as they have very few women in their corps, it was created with men in mind. We're called upon to have a lot of fortitude in these cases. You have to make it work somehow."

NASA launched its first woman in space, Sally Ride, in 1983, on the Challenger. However Russia launched the world's first woman in space in 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, who piloted the Vostok 6.

Final Halloween treats for 2011


Attack of the Giant Leeches



Attack of the Giant Leeches [Wikipedia]

Creature from the Black Lagoon



Creature from the Black Lagoon [Wikipedia]

Doctor X



Doctor X [Wikipedia]

Dr. Cyclops



Dr. Cyclops [Wikipedia]

Forbidden Planet



Forbidden Planet [Wikipedia]

Invasion of the Body Snatchers



Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Wikipedia]




Tarantula [Wikipedia]

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms



The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms [Wikipedia]

The Black Scorpion



The Black Scorpion [Wikipedia]

The Blob



The Blob [Wikipedia]

The Crawling Eye



The Crawling Eye [Wikipedia]

The Haunting



The Haunting [Wikipedia]

The Invisible Boy



The Invisible Boy [Wikipedia]

The Land Unknown



The Land Unknown [Wikipedia]

The Leech Woman



The Leech Woman [Wikipedia]

The Mole People



The Mole People [Wikipedia]

The Mummy's Tomb



The Mummy's Tomb [Wikipedia]

The Time Machine



The Time Machine [Wikipedia]

The Vampire Happening



The Vampire Happening [Wikipedia]


The Prince of Terror



Quantum computer to USC

Once all of unit's bugs are fixed, this will be a revolution in computing

"USC receives first quantum computer"


Rachel Bracker

October 30th, 2011

Daily Trojan

USC on Friday became the first academic institution to house an operational quantum computer system.

The D-Wave One Adiabatic Quantum Computer, the first commercially available quantum computer, will be housed at the USC Viterbi Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey.

Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis Yortsos said the research conducted on the machine will be historic.

“This is merely the first step in a much larger world,” Yortsos said.

Yortsos said the system will break new ground, much like the first commercially available computer in the United States, the Universal Automatic Computer (Univac).

“The D-Wave One Adiabatic Quantum Computer represents not merely the latest ancestor of Univac, but the next big leap — the advent of scalable quantum computing,” Yortsos said. “Truly, D-Wave Systems has created something revolutionary: a 128 qubit quantum chip that augurs the possibility of solving some of the world’s most complex optimization and machine learning problems.”

The $10-million computer was purchased by Lockheed Martin Corporation, a security and information technology company that is the largest provider of IT services, systems integration and training to the U.S. government. USC will work with Lockheed Martin to conduct research on the computer.

Lockheed Martin said in a press release that it hopes to harness the technology to solve relevant problems that are hard to address through established methods in a “cost-effective amount of time.”

Quantum computing has the potential to drastically increase the speed of computer functions. The D-Wave computer’s qubits are able to encode ones and zeros at the same time and place on the chip, whereas traditional computers can only hold one of the digits in a place at one time. Having two bits exist in the same place at the same time, a property called superposition, is a fundamental principle of quantum mechanics.

The concept of superposition is often illustrated by a thought experiment Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed in 1935. In the experiment, a cat would be placed in a box that is completely unobservable from the outside, where the cat would eventually be poisoned. Because Schrödinger’s cat is alive when placed in the box but will be dead at some point when it is in the box, an observer can only assume the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Superposition in the D-Wave computer is advanced through temperature manipulation.

The D-Wave system hardware is kept at 20 microKelvin, which is near absolute zero — the coldest possible temperature in the universe. This allows metals to become superconductors by removing their electrical resistance. The system is adiabatic, meaning there is no net heat loss or gain.

Yortsos said the computer will provide a new paradigm in the quest for faster and more secure computing, as the field is in its infancy.

“It wasn’t that long ago that quantum computing was the province of intellectual wonks and theorists,” Yortsos said.

Yortsos said the system would keep USC at the forefront of technological innovations.

“From its pioneering role in the protocols of the Internet, the Domain Naming System — .com, .net, .edu — grid computing, high-performance computing, e-science and artificial intelligence, ISI has been the agent of innovation for many of the greatest breakthroughs of the past four decades,” Yortsos said. “Next year, 2012, ISI will celebrate its 40th anniversary. I am very confident that … this agent has its best innovating still to come."

Happy HALLOWEEN...2011

Untitled photo by good friend Patrick Nichols.



George Parsons Lathrop

When the leaves, by thousands thinned,
A thousand times have whirled in the wind,
And the moon, with hollow cheek,
Staring from her hollow height,
Consolation seems to seek
From the dim, reechoing night;
And the fog-streaks dead and white
Lie like ghosts of lost delight
O'er highest earth and lowest sky;
Then, Autumn, work thy witchery!
Strew the ground with poppy-seeds,
And let my bed be hung with weeds,
Growing gaunt and rank and tall,
Drooping o'er me like a pall.
Send thy stealthy, white-eyed mist
Across my brow to turn and twist
Fold on fold, and leave me blind
To all save visions in the mind.
Then, in the depth of rain-fed streams
I shall slumber, and in dreams
Slide through some long glen that burns
With a crust of blood-red ferns
And brown-withered wings of brake
Like a burning lava-lake;—
So, urged to fearful, faster flow
By the awful gasp, "Hahk! hahk!" of the crow,
Shall pass by many a haunted rood
Of the nutty, odorous wood;
Or, where the hemlocks lean and loom,
Shall fill my heart with bitter gloom;
Till, lured by light, reflected cloud,
I burst aloft my watery shroud,
And upward through the ether sail
Far above the shrill wind's wail;—
But, falling thence, my soul involve
With the dust dead flowers dissolve;
And, gliding out at last to sea,
Lulled to a long tranquillity,
The perfect poise of seasons keep
With the tides that rest at neap.
So must be fulfilled the rite
That giveth me the dead year's might;
And at dawn I shall arise
A spirit, though with human eyes,
A human form and human face;
And where'er I go or stay,
There the summer's perished grace
Shall be with me, night and day.

George Parsons Lathrop [Wikipedia]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandy Wood...“StarDate" via University of Texas McDonald Observatory

"Day After Day, Her Voice Takes Listeners to the Stars"


Sonia Smith

October 29th, 2011

The New York Times

On a clear, cool night in the early 1960s, a father drove his young, pajama-clad daughter to one of the T-head piers on Corpus Christi Bay to marvel at an object in the sky.

The girl who peered up at the sky was Sandy Wood, and this year marked her 20th anniversary as the voice of the nationally syndicated radio program “StarDate.” Speaking in her distinctive warm and soothing tone over synthesized tinkling chimes, Ms. Wood provides a daily two-minute peek into the world of astronomy, expounding on topics as varied as newly discovered quasars and the best place to watch a meteor shower.

The show, which is heard every day by some 2.2 million listeners on more than 300 radio stations around the country, has inspired an untold number to go out to their backyards to gaze at the stars.

Some of that owes to Ms. Wood’s almost otherworldly voice. Over the years she has received many letters, a number from men who try to envision what she looks like. “Invariably they imagine me as some voluptuous brunette, very, very tall with long hair and long fingernails,” said Ms. Wood, 63. In reality, she is just shy of five feet tall. “I’m not a babe; I’m a grandma,” she added.

People also often assume from Ms. Wood’s authoritative delivery that she is an astronomer, she said. But she is not — although she describes herself as a “science addict” — and the bulk of the scripts are written by Damond Benningfield, a science journalist who has been the show’s producer since 1991. To gather material, Mr. Benningfield reads research journals, goes to conferences and interviews prominent astronomers. He tries to cover all aspects of astronomy, from the Big Bang to magnetars to how various cultures have viewed the stars through the ages.

“One of the things I love about astronomy is that there’s always something new,” Mr. Benningfield said. “With the improvements in technology in just the time I’ve been doing ‘StarDate,’ there are more big telescopes, there are more space telescopes and what people are discovering just seems to increase exponentially.”

In 1976, Deborah Byrd, a science journalist, founded the astronomy hot line that would become “StarDate.” The hot line attracted the notice of a producer at KLBJ-FM in Austin, who turned it into a radio show that was broadcast for a year under the name “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?” — a reference to the song co-written by Paul Kantner of Jefferson Starship.

“StarDate” made its nationwide debut in 1978, after Ms. Byrd secured a grant from the National Science Foundation. (Ms. Byrd left “StarDate” in 1991 and founded “EarthSky,” another successful science radio program.) Today, the show is produced by the McDonald Observatory, part of the University of Texas at Austin.

“StarDate” is “a charming little program that people appreciate,” said Sandra Preston, the assistant director for education and outreach at the observatory, who has been with the show since its beginning. Joel Block narrated the program for its first 13 years, and Ms. Preston and Mr. Benningfield selected Ms. Wood as his successor. “Her voice was very friendly and very clear,” Ms. Preston said.

Ms. Wood made her debut on Sept. 16, 1991, with a show about the Moon’s apparent proximity to Uranus and Neptune. “Tomorrow, you’ll also need a telescope to see Uranus. It will appear so close to the Moon that it will become lost in the Moon’s glare,” she said.

More than 7,300 shows later, Ms. Wood has no plans to stop. “I hope to do it until my voice completely fades out or I get too senile to read,” she said.

Ms. Wood, who was born in San Antonio and grew up in Corpus Christi, has no professional voice training. She started in radio in 1968 while studying drama at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, where her future husband had a summer job at a local AM station. The station manager, looking for a female voice, asked her to record a spot for a local department store. Impressed, he invited Ms. Wood to become a D.J.

“It was something very novel, because women were not on the air at that point pretty much at all,” Ms. Wood said. “I was one of the first female disc jockeys in the Southwest.”

In the ’70s she moved around South Texas with her husband, setting up FM stations in towns from Alice to Brownsville to Del Rio. He handled the business side while she wrote copy and recorded announcements.

Ms. Wood now lives in San Antonio and commutes to Austin twice a month to record “StarDate.” She is also the announcer for the local public television station and does one or two commercials a month.

Ms. Wood said she has a natural awe for astronomy. “I think that sometimes comes through in my delivery,” she said.

Being the voice of “StarDate” is “a great way to be anonymously, partially famous,” Ms. Wood said. Several times a year, after hearing her name, people will recognize her as the program’s narrator — but only once has a person picked her out by her voice alone.

“Of all places, I was in Las Vegas,” she said. “I was in a dress shop buying something, and someone said, ‘Gosh, your voice is familiar.’ We talked a lot, and as the conversation went on, she said, ‘Are you the woman on the radio who talks about the stars?’ ”

Radio's Guide to the Universe


Write for them...might make a few bucks...


Saturday, October 29, 2011

"tychê"...Lisa I. Hau's take

I will have to reread several times for many years I held a different understanding of "tychê"...for me meaning a realization of personal status and accepting same.

Encyclopedia of World Biography on Polybios...

The Greek historian Polybios (ca. 203-120 BC) is considered by some the greatest ancient historian after Thucydides. His view of Roman history presumed to provide the reader with historical means for individual self-improvement.

Polybios was born in Megalopolis in Arcadia, the son of Lycortas, general and statesman of the Achaean League. Through his father Polybios became involved early in the Achaean League, which he served both as ambassador to Egypt and as cavalry commander. Polybios tried to maintain the independence of the League, although in 169 B.C. he was dispatched to aid the Romans (who declined his help) in their combat against Perseus of Macedon.

Suspected by the Romans of halfhearted support of the Roman cause, Polybios, along with a thousand others, was shipped to Rome as a hostage in 166 B.C. and remained there until he obtained permission to return to his native land in 150 B.C. While in Rome, he was admitted to the most important circle of Aemilius Paulus (who had defeated Perseus of Macedonia in 168 B.C.), who appointed him tutor of his sons Fabius and Scipio the Younger. Polybios became the very close friend of Scipio, whom he accompanied to Africa in 147-146 B.C. and elsewhere upon his return from Greece.

Polybios was present at the capitulation of Carthage in 146 B.C.; and when Corinth was destroyed by the Romans in the same year, the Achaean League crushed, and Greece turned into a Roman province, it was Polybios who was entrusted with the task of reorganizing the Greeks. Apparently he did so to the satisfaction of Greeks and Romans alike, because he was honored by both. His later years were devoted to writing his Histories. It is reported that he died as the result of a fall from his horse while in his early 80s.

His Work

Polybios was an eyewitness to the great historical events of his day, including the war against Antiochus III of Syria (192-189 B.C.), the Third Macedonian War (171-168 B.C.), the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.), and the defeat of Carthage and the conquest of Greece in 146 B.C. Polybios originally intended to write a universal history, with special emphasis on Rome's conquest of the then known world, which would conclude at 168 B.C. However, the sack of Corinth and destruction of Carthage were necessary additions.

Of Polybios's 40-book work only the first 5 books have survived. Because of the great mass of information which he covers (from 220 to 145 B.C.), Polybios is very generous with his explanatory notes. His first two books are large preludes to the main history, which does not begin until the third book. Polybios was influenced greatly by Thucydides and believed that a knowledge of history is an absolutely necessary guide to present action. His pragmatic view emphasizes the didactic element in history. For Polybios--no antiquarian--history was practical knowledge needed in present experience. Three essentials for the historian, according to Polybios, are geographical knowledge; a knowledge of practical politics, including the art of war; and the ability to collect, classify, and synthesize written sources.

Polybios lacked the artistic qualities of Herodotus or Thucydides, but he insisted on travel to the spots where history was made, closely examined written and oral evidence, invoked his own military experience and that of others, and utilized firsthand knowledge.

It was Polybios, a Greek, who illuminated the rise of the Roman Empire. He does not merely recount; he analyzes in terms of causal relations. In Polybios Greek and Roman historiography merge because the whole Mediterranean world was merging with Rome.


In this paper I shall begin by discussing the first of these two problems and offer a solution based on narrative rather than philosophical considerations. I shall then discuss the second problem and try to get to grips with what tychê meant for Polybios, again looking to narrative rather than philosophical theories. Finally I shall draw some conclusions about Polybios’ historiographical project and the impact of his Histories on the ancient and modern reader.


Polybius [Wikipedia]

The Histories [Wikipedia]

Polybius: the histories, Volume 1; Volume 7

Fallen what?


I wonder if it made a sound when it hit the ground? :)

"Giant sequoia falls, raising questions about what to do next"

The Forest Service must decide what to do with the ancient tree, which is blocking a path. Build over it? Dig under? Or do nothing at all?


Bettina Boxall

October 29th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Along the Sierra Nevada's famed Trail of 100 Giants, the mammoth sequoia had stood sentry since King Arthur's knights gathered at the Round Table.

It witnessed the arrival of the first European settlers and the flurry of miners in search of gold. The onset of the Medieval Warm Period and the passing of the Little Ice Age. It stood, unperturbed, through the Great War and the one that followed.

Then a month ago, as a handful of amazed tourists looked on, it toppled — crushing a bridge over a small stream and blocking the path.

Now, the U.S. Forest Service must decide what to do.

Slice a big hole in the 300-foot-long roadblock? Go around it? Over it? Under it?

When you're dealing with a 1,500-year-old sequoia in a national monument, the questions aren't just logistical. They're environmental, emotive and potentially legal.

Officials closed the popular tourist trail, cleared the debris and solicited ideas from the public on how to deal with the fallen giant — actually two trees fused at the base.

Among the 30 or so suggestions: Reroute the trail. Tunnel under the trunks. Carve steps and build a bridge over them. Sell what would be one heck of a lot of firewood.

"This has not happened in the Sequoia National Forest before," said public affairs officer Denise Alonzo, explaining the indecision.

The now-prone twins — two-thirds the height of Los Angeles City Hall — were among the bigger specimens in Long Meadow Grove, part of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. About 17 feet in diameter at their common base, the trees are middle-aged for giant sequoias, which can live 4,000 years and have the greatest mass of any living organism on Earth.

The Forest Service isn't sure why the trees hit the dirt Sept. 30, because they appeared to be healthy.

A German tourist, one of only a few people on the 1.3-mile loop trail at the time, recorded the crash on video.

"It can't be possible," Gerrit Panzner told the Visalia Times about what went through his mind when he realized the sequoias were falling.

"I wasn't afraid," said his wife, Sigrun Rakus. Her only thought was to get out of the way.

The trees may have toppled because the wet winter left the ground too soggy to hold the roots, which are relatively shallow.

"Sequoias do fall. That's how big sequoias die," said Nathan Stephenson of the U.S. Geological Survey. "It's never anything that I consider with alarm."

After a wet winter in 1969, he said, one of the giants fell in a picnic area of nearby Sequoia National Park and killed a woman. Over the years, there have been a couple that thudded onto trails in the park. Officials cut openings in the downed trees to allow visitors to pass through, as well as to give tourists an appreciation for their immense size.

When the Trail of 100 Giants was built several decades ago, it actually was routed around a long-fallen sequoia.

Since the Forest Service reopened the path a week ago, visitors have been climbing on the hulking trunks and treading where only birds and animals have been for more than a millennium.

"We got up there and everybody was just in awe of what was in front of them," Alonzo said. "And until the snow falls, it's open for anybody to go up and visit."

In considering its options, the Forest Service wants to keep the paved path accessible to the disabled and make sure nothing is done to damage the root systems of surrounding trees, Alonzo said.

Ara Marderosian, executive director of the environmental group Sequoia ForestKeeper, knows exactly what the Forest Service should do.


"I thought it was a great classroom for what nature does," said Marderosian, who submitted a three-page letter to the agency after visiting the grove. "It's quite a beautiful sight to see on the ground the way it is."