Posts Tagged ‘Science’

“God Particle” Discovery?

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

On the Smallest Scale...

Wednesday, CERN(the European Organization for Nuclear Research) announced the discovery of a new particle.  They are 99.9999% certain it is real, and that it exists, and many researchers suspect it is the long-sought Higgs boson, first described nearly five decades ago by British physicist Peter Higgs.  That’s the theory.  Of course, in popular physics, the Higgs boson has come to be termed the “God particle” both because of its amazing alleged properties, and because of the heretofore extreme difficulty in proving its existence.  Many people understandably become offended at that term, but apart from the offense some take at this label, the discovery, if it is what it purports, relieves some tension in mainstream science.  Some worry that this discovery is mostly a put-on, done up to justify the expense of the extraordinary Large Hadron Collider straddling the border of France and Switzerland.  CERN has spent a mind-boggling sum of money, much of it derived from governments, mainly in Europe,  but also including a sizable chunk of dough from the US.

To make any sense of this, you must first plumb the depths of the quantum world.  In sub-microscopic space, too small even for our ordinary instrumentation to see, the universe is a sea of tiny particles.  We think in terms of atoms, and perhaps their well-known constituents, the electron, neutron, and proton, but the particles being examined in the LHC at CERN are much smaller, and are the parts of matter that are the building blocks of all of these, or so it’s thought.  Strange things happen at the quantum scale, and there are odd rules for how particles behave.  For instance, a particle’s velocity and precise position can never be known simultaneously, known as the Uncertainty Principle.  More, the act of observing a particle appears to change its behavior, meaning that by merely looking at a thing, you are changing it, and seemingly changing its state in the recent past.  This is known as the quantum enigma.  It’s all very strange compared with the seemingly orderly world we observe when just out for a stroll in the park.

One of the questions that has plagued physics for many years is the relationship between quantum theory, or “Quantum Mechanics,” and the larger scale universe seemingly described most accurately by General Relativity, the body of of work that had been Albert Einstein’s.  The problem in linking the two has always been the question of gravity.  Einstein’s theory doesn’t work at the quantum scale, and nothing has seemed to make sense way down at the most fundamental levels of matter.  What gives matter the mass we observe?   Why does a lead ingot weigh so much and a feather weigh so little?  How does gravity interact with either?  How does gravity work at all?  These are some of the questions the Higgs boson was proposed to answer.

The Higgs boson is a particle said to exist in a field, and that field interacts with ordinary matter, so they theorize.  In this theory, the Higgs boson gives mass to particles that would not otherwise exhibit any.  Think of the various particles as being weightless, but by the addition of a soup of Higgs particles, the other particles get mass.  Another way to envision this might be to think of elementary particles experiencing a kind of drag through otherwise empty space, like a ship plowing across a sea.  Larger particles experience more drag, while smaller ones experience minimal resistance, and it is this measured resistance that equates to what you and I observe as mass, and here in our ordinary existence, “weight.”

Remembering that in the quantum world, all the particles are in motion constantly, whether examining that chunk of lead or that bit of down, this may explain why a piece of matter, whatever its particulars, seems to have a static weight even when it’s not moving(mass.)  You might wonder why any of this is important, but the fact of the matter is that for all our technical sophistication, there are many things we do not yet know about how our universe works, and still many things to be learned about even some of the most fundamental properties of the things we experience in daily life.

Gravity is one of those things.  Sir Isaac Newton described it mathematically, yet even the father of modern physics could not explain how it functioned.  Asked if he believed that gravity was a pull or a push, he responded that he knew not, but only that he could show the math on predicting its behavior.  Of course, Newton’s laws were what we relied upon going to the Moon, and as we discovered in the process, Einstein’s General Relativity was a better estimation.  Einstein described gravity as a force derived by the bending of space-time, in the presence of mass.  His math works, and more closely than Newton’s, but when applied to the smallest scales of matter, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Mainstream physics has been undergoing a sort of dueling battle for nearly two generations, because quantum theory seems to hold up in the laboratory, but General Relativity seems to hold up at the large scales of the universe, but the two theories simply cannot agree.  This has led to a nervous tension over what is known as the “standard model,” and what has been needed all along is to somehow rectify the chasm between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.  This elusive solution is known variously as the “Grand Unified Theory,” or more simply, “the Theory of Everything.”  The basic notion is that one single theory ought to be able to mathematically describe the whole universe, from the largest to the smallest phenomenon, from the big bang to the tiny particles that constitute the smallest bits of matter.  Such a theory, if ever derived and tested, could offer us the ability to create many more technological wonders, and would answer some of the basic questions about our existence.

A Virtual Map of the Large Hadron Collider

This explains why CERN built the gargantuan LHC, because to observe particles on such a small scale requires unbelievable energy. At the LHC, they are flinging bundles of particles around a 17 mile ring, through a super-cooled tube, where the path of the particles are influenced by supermagnets, slightly altering their straight-line proclivities in order to stay within the curves of the circle.  These bundles of hadrons are traveling at some fantastic fraction of the speed of light, over 99%, and they are collided with another bundle, traveling the opposite direction.  At each of the point about the ring where these collisions occur, they have vast detectors, and in a sense, you could imagine these detectors as being like gargantuan digital cameras.  When the bundles of hadrons collide, some pass harmlessly without interaction, but a relative few smack head-on into their onrushing counterparts in the opposing beam.  What results is fireworks.  An explosion of smaller particles is released, and energy and radiation of various sorts, flying off and spinning and roiling briefly as they are annihilated.

LHC ATLAS Detector at CERN

All of this is being undertaken in order to try to understand how our universe works. What we have discovered over the course of the last century is that to understand the vast scale of our universe, its origins, and its function, we will first need to grasp in intimate detail the workings of the smallest fragments of matter and energy.  Understanding the interactions between and among the trillions of atoms in the human body, or the very strange concept of Quantum Entanglement(whereby the mere observation of one particle seems to effect its entangled partner particle instantly even across vast distances) will be key in developing new technologies.  On the other hand, there is a certain danger to all of this, and it comes in the form of mistakenly arriving at the conclusion that we can know everything.  While in theory, we should be able to discover everything about the physical world around us, still, it would be easy to slip into a sort of intellectual smugness by which we decide we’ve understood it all.

The trouble is that with all our fancy instruments, and all of our experimentation, we really haven’t seen nearly so much as we imagine we’ve seen.  At the quantum scales under examination, much of the work is a statistical analysis, looking for signals and traces and any evidence at all to support a hypothesis.  That’s not to say that we haven’t learned a great deal, but it is to suggest that we should not leap to conclusions too easily.  It’s true to say that CERN has evidence that they’ve found something, but whether it is really the Higgs boson, or whether it is something else entirely remains a matter of speculation.  For all the fanfare, it really comes down to this: There’s something there, but what exactly it is, and how it functions and fits into the standard model, we cannot yet say, and we should not rush in foolishly in order to justify a rather large science project, and while we’re at it, let’s lay off the labeling that puts many in a mind to call it all blasphemy.  Let us experiment, and find the answer if we can.  That is what science is all about.




Climate-gate 2.0: The Scandal Continues

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The Hoaxers Get Caught Again - Media Silent

For those who harbored any doubts about the political nature of the scientists running the “Global Warming” or “Global Climate Change” hoax on the world, those doubts should have been erased now and forevermore.  A new batch of 5000 emails has been delivered to the press anonymously, and these emails are even more damning than the first round of emails released two years ago.  What these emails demonstrate is both the degree to which politics motivates the so-called “science” and the extent to which the conspirators have gone to conceal the totality of the evidence.  It’s the same list of climate hoaxers, and the same axis of dishonesty becomes readily apparent.  What’s even more stunning is that the US government is in collusion with the hoaxers. From the Forbes piece:

“I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process,”writes Phil Jones, a scientist working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a newly released email.

“Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden,” Jones writes in another newly released email. “I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.”

You may remember Phil Jones as the man at the center of the first email scandal two years ago, and it seems Jones hasn’t learned any lesson but one:  He must work even harder to conceal the truth from the world than ever before.  Rather than simply resort to science, Jones’ emails show the intent to continue the fraud, and hide the data from the public, and here he admits that the US Department of Energy is agreeable to keeping the original temperature station data secret.  You pay for this agency, and yes, the same agency is at the center of the entire “Green Energy” scam, so what we clearly have is a rogue agency of the United States government that is acting contrary to the public interest.  So much for “openness and transparency.”

If this isn’t bad enough, Michael Mann has been looking for “journalists” who would investigate and smear skeptics:

“I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose” skeptical scientist Steve McIntyre, Mann writes in another newly released email.

This is simply outrageous conduct for a so-called “scientist.”  Clearly, Mann is more interested in trying to harm Steve McIntyre than to refute his research.  This is horrendous, but as bad as this attempt at smearing others may be, the motive for the smear is made clear in other emails:

“Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these further if necessary,” writes Peter Thorne of the UK Met Office.

“I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,” Thorne adds.

That says it all.  They have to fake it to make their case, and rely upon one dubious study while ignoring many more that contradict their general claim.  In short, they are lying to you, and to the UN, and to all the people in all the nations who are being ruled by those sympathetic to their scam, which at this point clearly includes the Obama Administration and the EPA as well as the Department of Energy.

Phil Jones may be engaged in outright fraud.  He has gone to great lengths to conceal information from various FOIA requests:

“With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent. There might be some bits of pieces of paper, but I’m not wasting my time going through these.”

Add to this that a new study by Dr. Andreas Schmitter of Oregon State University that strongly suggests the concerns over Global Warming  due to increasing CO2 is vastly overstated, according to the Daily Mail:

‘The results imply less probability of extreme climatic change than previously thought.’


Dr Schmittner told the Daily Mail that it would be ‘virtually impossible’ for a doubling of carbon dioxide to cause temperatures to rise by 8c or 10c.

Let’s be perfectly honest about what this means.  It cannot be claimed that there is a “consensus” on Global Warming, or CO2’s impact upon it, never mind mankind’s effect on the climate.  One recent study indicates that the actual culprit in any observable warming may not even be terrestrial in origin.  Henrik Svensmark’s work supports the notion that cloud formation is greatly affected by cosmic rays, and that cloud formation plays an important role in climate.  CERN recently confirmed his earlier findings, but what this demonstrates is that in the real world of science, outside of the control of politically motivated hacks at the UN’s IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that science is far from any alleged “consensus” on the matter.

Meanwhile, the hacks continue to carry on as though they’ve not been caught.  What is needed in this instance is a complete withdrawal of US Government support for the whole Climate Change/Global Warming Hoax, to include de-funding of the UN’s IPCC and any other politically motivated group related to this issue.  What many have long argued in criticism of the global warming regime is that it was intended as a method by which to enact new taxes on energy consumers.  Whether that is the only motive is unclear, but it certainly makes sense.  After all, for what other reason would this entire hoax be carried off if not to make us believe in a crisis as justification for further governmental involvement in our lives?  I think the Congress should investigate, and if proven, those involved should be prosecuted for fraud.  How many have made a living from this hoax?  How many have plotted to defraud the American people, and indeed, people all around the globe?  Climate-gate 2.0 is surely just the latest disclosure, but probably not the last.  One would hope more responsible scientists would step forward to say to the Phil Jones/Michael Mann/Climate Hoaxer crowd: “Enough is enough, you’re ruining our good name.”  With even some warmists now criticizing all of this, it seems there is a chance that the myth of “consensus” will finally be broken.

My question is:  Will the Nobel Committee ask Al Gore to return the prize and the cash?

For more reading on Global Warming:

Large Asteroid to Pass Near Earth Tuesday

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

When? Not "If."

A quarter-mile wide asteroid is going to pass within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which is very close in astronomical terms, and closer than the orbit of the moon.  The object, named Asteroid 2005 YU55, is set to scream past the Earth around 6:30 pm EST, on Tuesday evening.  Conspiracy theorists are already proposing that this object is the reason for the EAS test scheduled for the 9th, at 2pm.  The problem with that theory is that this object, were it to hit the Earth, would have wiped out a huge number of people the night before, so the timing is off, so let’s assume that conspiracy theory is busted.  Still, it’s interesting to consider what the impact of such an object would bring to our planet, because in the history of Earth, collisions of that sort have happened countless times.

Movies such as Armageddon and Deep Impact portray efforts by the government to stop such an event by various means but in truth, we’re very nearly powerless to stop them at present.  Worse, we’re blind to most of the objects floating around our solar system that could create such devastation, because we spend so little on monitoring the skies.  It’s a reminder of how small is our little place in the universe, and how thoroughly vulnerable we remain to calamities well outside the scope of our powers to mitigate.

Here’s an interesting but decidedly over-sensationalized video:


Assuming that NASA’s calculations are correct, the .0022 AU distance (Astronomical Units) should provide plenty of margin for safety, although the video above is sensational in its presentation.  Nevertheless, an object of this size would create a global catastrophe far exceeding anything recorded in human history.  It would unleash an explosion that would level everything for hundreds or even  thousands of miles, and would rain ejecta down around the globe from the newly-formed crater.  The skies would darken in short order, making agriculture nearly impossible, and most of the surviving human population of the planet would be subjected to bitter cold and gnawing starvation.

This is one good reason why we ought to be funding those projects that scan the sky for such objects and other natural phenomena, because in truth, it’s a matter of global defense.  We spend so little on this that it’s improbable that we would even notice most of the objects that pose a threat.  Consider this:  These objects are named for the year in which they are discovered.  This one is labeled 2005 YU55, and that means we didn’t even see this thing until 2005.   It’s been in an Earth-crossing orbit for a long time, much longer than we’ve had telescopes to explore the inky blackness of space, so what you must conclude is that there are likely countless others out there, and even if this one doesn’t have our name on it, there is one somewhere out there that does.

Meteor Crater, Arizona

An object this large is estimated to hit the Earth every few million years.  Smaller, but still devastating objects like the one that created Meteor Crater in Arizona strike every hundred-thousand years or so.  While that seems like a long time, in the context of the life of the Earth (somewhere around 4.5 billion years,) it’s not very long at all. For context, the object that created Meteor Crater is though to have been only fifty meters across, but it carved out a notch in the earth over 1200 meters across, and 170 meters deep.  It was thought to be traveling at 28,000 mph. The blast was thought to have been equivalent to a ten megaton nuclear bomb.    An object the size of 2005 YU55, around 400 meters, would have a much more devastating effect. It would likely excavate a crater miles across, and have devastating global consequences.

NASA assures us this object will pose no threat to the Earth, or the moon, but what we should consider carefully is how we spend money on useless boondoggles like Solyndra to enrich a few people, while all of humanity is vulnerable to devastation by natural causes that we may not identify until it is too late to react.  Time is everything with such objects, because the sooner we know of their existence, and the sooner we can plot their orbits, the sooner we can make plans to affect their orbits, tweaking their paths slightly, to avoid a collision with Earth.  Part of the purpose of NASA is to investigate such things, and to devise ways to protect us, but with a budget that has been slashed with the cancellation of major projects, and the lack of focus on this aspect of what NASA is tasked to perform, there’s still a very good chance that some other asteroid will sneak up on us without us having seen it coming.  You can’t prepare for that about which you do not know.