Sep 30, 2011
The storied Tevatron particle collider, the most powerful machine of its kind in the U.S. and for many years in the world, will smash its final protons and antiprotons Friday.
The collider, which broke ground in 1968 (my Dad was there, and I worked there during high school and college), which came online in 1983, accelerates particles to near light speed on a six-kilometer racetrack before steering them into head-on collisions.
But the Tevatron has been eclipsed by Europe’s larger, more powerful Large Hadron Collider, which finally powered up two years ago after a series of delays.
In its 28 years of operation the Tevatron made countless contributions to particle physics.
Sep 29, 2011
Philosophy is a framework. This means that philosophy is an approach to questions rather than a bunch of answers to the questions themselves. Logic, a sub-discipline in philosophy, gives us a way to frame ideas so we talk about things more orderly. Philosophy can help get us nearer to what is true about the world.
- Epistemology – this is the study of the scope, limits, and possibility of knowledge.
- Metaphysics – the study of the structure of the world.
- Philosophy of Mind – here we attempt to look at what it means to say something has a mind.
- Ethics – ethicists study the nature of the good and how humans should live based on how the good is defined.
- Philosophy of Religion – philosophers in this discipline attempt to tackle questions like, “does God exist?,” “is there life after death?,” “is any religion true?” and “how can we believe in a good God with so much evil in the world?”
- Logic – Logicians study arguments and the relationship between ideas.
Sep 28, 2011
Sep 27, 2011
Sep 26, 2011
The aerospace firm is planning to send its own employees to the International Space Station on the first crewed mission of its CST-100 ship, the company said Friday. Apparently internal interviews are already ongoing, because Boeing wants its astronauts to help drive further development of the space capsule.Riding aboard an Atlas V rocket — the CST-100 will launch three times in 2015, starting with two unmanned launches. One launch will take it into orbit and a second will involve an aborted orbit attempt, in a test of the capsule’s escape abilities should something go wrong during launch.
Sep 25, 2011
Sep 24, 2011
For just $1 of electricity, the average customer can:
- Brew over 800 cups of coffee (900-watt 10-cup coffee maker)
- Keep a Compact Florescent Light (CFL) on for over 450 hours (27-watt CFL)
- Wash around 25 loads of laundry (500-watt washer)
- Spend about 40 hours on their computer (300-watt desktop computer and monitor)
- Play over 200 of their favorite two hour movies (30-watt DVD player)
Sep 23, 2011
Sep 22, 2011
Sep 21, 2011
Researchers at the Lafayette campus of the University of Louisiana are looking for green substitutes for diesel fuel. The prime one now in use is soybeans, which are used to make biodiesel oil. But soybeans are also needed for human consumption and animal feed. The United States uses 45 billion gallons of diesel a year; making just one billion gallons from soybeans would use up 21 percent of the American crop, the scientists point out.
Now the researchers think they have identified a potential source for biodiesel that currently goes straight to landfills: alligator fat, about 15 million pounds of it every year. In a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Industrial Engineering Chemistry Research, Dr. Bajpai and five collaborators report on lab experiments in which they converted 61 percent of the alligator fat to liquids that would be usable in biofuel.
Some 15 million pounds could become 1.25 million gallons of fuel, with an energy content about 91 percent as great as that of petroleum diesel. A large plant could produce the fuel at $2.40 a gallon, Dr. Bajpai said, not counting the cost of the fat, which would presumably be zero, or the cost of transporting the fat to the plant.
And for each gallon of biodiesel produced, the refinery would also make a few ounces of glycerol, a chemical valuable in industry, he said.
Sep 19, 2011
Pirate Lingo - The Short Course
Ahoy! - "Yo!"
Avast! - "Check it out!"
Aye! - "Yes."
Arrr! - "That's right!" (often confused with arrrgh...)
Arrrgh! - "I'm VERY miffed."
Link to their site!
Sep 18, 2011
Sep 17, 2011
The Denial of Death, by Earnest Becker, 1972. His thesis (which builds on the work of Freud and Otto Rank) is that as mortal but conscious mammals, we are aware of the horrific reality that we will someday cease to exist. All of our personal investments, memories, friends, aspirations, and goals perish along with us. That truth is so immensely difficult, so all-consuming, that it dominates our psychology and is at the root of just about all of that we do.
And its why we feel guilty. But what is guilt? Where does it come from? According to Becker, guilt is partially fed by the realization of all the life we know we’re not going to be able to live and by the fear that death my visit us on a schedule that doesn’t coincide with ours. Becker writes:
“To lie to oneself about one’s own potential development is another cause of guilt. It is one of the most insidious daily inner gnawings a person can experience. Guilt, remember, is the bind that man experiences when he is humbled and stopped in ways that he does not understand, when he is overshadowed in his energies by the world. But the misfortune of man is that he can experience this guilt in two ways: as bafflement from without and from within—by being stopped in relation to his own potential development. Guilt results from unused life, from ‘the unlived in us.’”
In a recent article for the Catholic periodical First Things, Wilfred McClay tackles the problem. The demands on an active conscience are literally as endless as an active imagination’s ability to conjure them. The sheer number of guilt-inducing social responsibilities alone are overwhelming. Recycle more, drive less (and only a hybrid), help the poor, make sure your kids read, exercise, don’t buy a big house, do buy a small car, buy organic, buy local, buy fair trade, help the needy, walk for the cure, work more, work less, neuter and spay, vote democrat, and on and on it goes. As McClay points out, much of these are good ideas in general. But they’re presented as true moral options and choosing wrongly carries deep moral weight and because of that, guilt. Yet without a clear moral foundation on which to place the moral burden, the cognitive dissonance one must conjure up can be maddening—literally.
The bigger problem, says McClay, is that there is no clear path to alleviating all this growing guilt. We moderns have had to come up with all sorts of creative ways to salve the thousands of psychological cuts that threaten mental breakdown including inventing or transferring a certain amount of victimhood onto ourselves in order to establish a basis for excusing our intangible moral failings. The oppressor becomes the responsible one and the victim, as innocent, is released from the burden of guilt.
The reason theism works is because God’s forgiveness can allow us to bypass all the labor and burden of having to overcome the basis for our guilt (which, theists argue, we could never do anyway) and “relieve the debt” in one fell swoop, for now and for eternity. One’s guilt is relieved by believing that God has forgiven sins and this “works” as a psychological heuristic even if there actually is no God.
But this demonstrates that ideas are powerful things and if theism as an idea is powerful enough to help us manage guilt, maybe there are other ideas that are just as powerful and even more effective.
Sep 16, 2011
Great innovation happens when most of the time we take a process-oriented and “common sense” mindset — but the process makes clear space for an “outside of process” and “passion” mindset. In business, in relationships, in life — we need both, and in the right doses. Our customers and prospects and friends and families tell us what those doses are.