On the formation of nitro-oxy spheroids in a aureal visco-matrix of petrocanola

This Thanksgiving, Jodi and I were pretty damned sick of traveling [TAOMPH358]. However, one of the students in my group was co-hosting a Thanksgiving turkey fry at his place. Jodi and I gladly accepted the invitation, and knew we were in for a fun at-home holiday. Jodi did some baking [JodiCooking] and we arrived at the dinner in time for the setup of the fryer and the start of the cooking.

It was a fun time, with lots of opportunities to explore the exciting tension of a giant, hot vat of oil. You can check out the fun in the photos from the event:


.. [TAOMPH358] http://steve.cooleysekula.net/blog/?p=539

.. [JodiCooking] “Cranberry Relish”:http://cookbook.cooleysekula.net/recipes/20051125183739, “Cranberry Sauce”:http://cookbook.cooleysekula.net/recipes/20061123193859, “Pumpking-Orange Cake”:http://cookbook.cooleysekula.net/recipes/20061124103141

The ITER Model

The international linear collider will be the most powerful, most precise probe of the universe ever constructed on the Earth. The Large Hadron Collider, currently in the final stages of construction, will crack open the Terascale. Most physicists believe, based on knowing where our current theory of nature fails to make sensible predictions, that there must be some new principles of nature at the Terascale. When the math fails, that’s the world’s way of telling you, “Hey . . . pssssst! Look over here!”

The ILC is the professional, the *Nettoyer*, that comes in and makes sense of the mess. New physics is usually a messy business. Thinking back to the meson zoo that we faced in the middle third of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the advent of the first linear accelerator at SLAC that we peered beyond the diversity of nature and were able to see the common ancestor of the meson zoo, the quarks. Bubble chambers, cloud chambers, and the fixed target experiments taught us about kaons and pions, baryons, and symmetries of nature. It was the electron machine that revealed the common ancestor from which these particles traced their lineage.

Just like the LHC, the ILC is a big expense. There’s no way around it, although these things can get cheaper if there are breakthroughs in detector and accelerator design. Still, you can’t take wishful thnking to the bank. It’s going to take a consensus of nations, and the physics communities within those nations, to make it so. It’s also going to take discoveries at the LHC, whatever they might be, to make the final motivating push for the ILC. Of late, there have been many corners of government that have been talking about the “ITER Model” as a means to a successful large-scale and high-expense facility. ITER is a thermonuclear fusion reactor experiment intended as a testbed for what might one day become fusion technology. It’s a multi-billion, many nation project. Only a few years ago came the decision to site it in France, and the U.S. has been at times a member of and an ex-member of the collaboration.

Despite years of wrangling, and U.S. polticians’ “hot and cold” involvement with the experiment, it’s seen as a success. It’s been supported by its member nations, it’s been sited, and most recently the funding appears to have come out of the end of the pipeline [ITERFunding]. While my own community of particle physicists have long snickered at the experience of ITER, it’s time to wake up. ITER is a success politically and financially. Whether it’s an experimental success will take many years to find out, but just to get the damn thing sited and funded is a triumph. The politicans recognize this, and I hope that my own community can do so soon. Better to pattern yourself after a rocky success than a polished failure.

.. [ITERFunding] “http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/21/1849223”:http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/21/1849223

Blogging from Ubuntu

This past weekend, I completed the construction of my new death star. At its heart is a pentium 4 dual core processor, which I am *itching* to take for a spin with “ROOT”:http://root.cern.ch and g++ – in particular, I want to clock a cold build of ROOT. To do anything fun with this machine, I need to have a proper operating system. This beauty is a virtual 64-bit machine, and should tear up the skies once it’s fully operational.

Windows 64-bit is unacceptable, of course. It has a long and pockmarked history. I’d have better luck with Vista, which is due out in 2007. Or has it slipped to 2008 again? I just can’t keep track of that mess.

No, this beauty is powered by LINUX. My usual poison is Fedora Core, the community supported Redhat Linux. I popped that sucker into the DVD drive and got reay to boot the installation disk. WITNESS THE POWER OF THIS COMPLETE AND FULLY OPERATIONAL BATTLE STA . . .

BUG: spinlock recursion on CPU#0

WTF?! WTF?! Spinlock recursion?! To paraphrase a famous blonde acress in a recent HDTV ad: “Spinlock recursion. I don’t know what that means, but I want it.” Well, I don’t want it, because it prevents this beautiful homebuilt machine from purring. Grrr. Instead, I tried Knoppix, which is based on the same kernel series as Fedora Core but uses the Debian package base. That booted fine. In fact, many different releases of Knoppix booted fine. I also tried Ubuntu linux. “Ubuntu”:http://www.ubuntu.com/ is a recent addition to the linux scene, built on Debian but super user friendly.

So, I files a bug report with Redhat (“https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=216374”:https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=216374).
I did my civic duty, and now I wait for help. But waiting for help doesn’t mean helpless. I installed Kubuntu, the KDE-flavored Ubuntu linux, and was up and running in under an hour. I installed all the software I needed, and am now blogging from my Ubunutu-powered Intel Pentium D machine. Now witness the power of this fully operational battle sta . . .

Oooh, “amarok”:http://amarok.kde.org/.

How do we know that dark energy is the same as the cosmological constant?

I’ve been picked on for watching Gilmore Girls. I’ve also been picked on for watching “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. In fact, I once mocked a good friend of mine for doing just that. But seemingly stupid TV can actually hide many nuggets of great writing and acting. “Buffy” was famous for using magic as a means to tell stories about human failings, and daemons as parables for the ills of the spirit suffered by the characters. Whole classes sprung up aroung the mythology of “Buffy”, exploring its exploration of morality.

The most recent episode of “Gilmore Girls” portayed Rory’s parents, Chris and Laurelie, attending Yale’s parents’ weekend. Chris is really eager to see a lecture on astrophysics and cosmology. The professor giving the speech ends with dark energy. Chris asks the professor how he knows that dark energy, and Einstein’s cosmological constant, are the same thing. The professor responds that this is an excellent question, and goes on to say that more and varied measurements are needed.

It was excellent to see this portrayal of both the science and the scientist. It was also good to see a non-scientist portrayed as excited about the idea of dark energy, one of the deepest mysteries of modern physics. I must say, that while overall I’m not impressed with this season of the show, this little nugget was well worth it.