Science News

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prasen9
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Science News

Postby prasen9 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:24 am

I am taking the liberty to create a new thread.  In August, after many years of planning and construction, the Large Hadron Collider will be operational in CERN (co-incidentally, the famous laboratory where the WWW was also "invented" by Sir Tim Berners Lee).  The existence of the Higgs boson (or not) should be verified.  That may contain clues to where most of the mass of the universe comes from (dark matter).  Armed with the empirical clues, theoretical physics, will hopefully make a step forward towards a grand unification theory, or at least, we will know more about the universe's creation.  It is sad that the U.S. shutdown the SSC in Texas about 15 years ago.  It was supposed to be bigger than the LHC.  There is a question about funding "big" science versus "small" science, but, I thought that for projects that answered this big a question, the money should have been spent.  Heaven knows they waste twenty times more on the Iraq war in a year or so.  I am not physicist, so a true physicist can comment more, but, I await exciting results from the LHC.

p.s. BTW, for those that prefer lighter reading, here are some more "news" articles on the LHC
Swiss Village
LHC Uses (adults only)
Inauguration
....
Last edited by prasen9 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Science News

Postby suresh » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:45 am

Theoretical physicists have been victims of their own success. The standard model of particle physics has been extremely successful in explaining data that has so far been obtained. However, theoretically speaking we know that limitations of the standard model. For instance, it does not include one of the fundamental forces in nature, gravity.

Lots of theoretical work beyond the standard model has been around for decades now. It is hoped that the LHC will shed light into these aspects and not just discover the Higgs particle. Theoretical physicists are a bunch of people who have been hungry for decades now and you can guess how eager they are to see LHC data come.

The amount of data that comes out is so huge that it is a monumental task to (a) store the data, (b) analyse the data and (c) extract its implications. Computer scientists like Prasenjit(prasen9) might appreciate the complexity of the problem. This issue, at a much smaller level, is what led to the creation of the world wide web. Competing methods like gopher fell by the wayside and in my mind, it was the creation of the browser which changed things. I recall having to telnet to a site that had a list that kept growing every day and the number for "physics" would change. Then came lynx, a simple text based browser, than changed the way we(theoretical physicists) did things. Of course, the explosion occurred after the creation of Mosaic, the precursor to Netscape.

Coming back to the physics aspect. The SSC was on the anvil around the time I was finishing my PhD. Huge chunks of money was apportioned to the project and I believe they even began digging in Texas. Guys like me who did not work directly in SSC related work had to struggle getting post-docs. I thought that my career was worth sacrificing for SSC! Then came the battle between `big science' vs `small science' -- in reality, it was a head to head battle between two groups of physicists -- those working in condensed matter physics and those working in high energy physics. The sad result was the canning of the SSC project and that made me look like a dufus -- I thought it was okay for my career to go and this happened. This episode also shows that scientists are as human as anyone else. Prasenjit  makes the right comparison, the amount of money spent on war and war-related stuff dwarfs the amounts required for "big science". 

Technologically speaking, just about everything about the LHC is cutting edge stuff. It takes them months to cool down the tunnel before anything can be switched on! I just hope that everything works as anticipated and we get to see data soon.

Suresh

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:01 am

suresh wrote:The amount of data that comes out is so huge that it is a monumental task to (a) store the data, (b) analyse the data and (c) extract its implications. Computer scientists like Prasenjit(prasen9) might appreciate the complexity of the problem.
Absolutely!  With storage becoming cheap, it is becoming easier to store everything, although, in some cases for astronomy data, it still may be too huge and the astronomers may not have enough money to buy that many storage devices.  I do not know how much data LHC will generate, but, I think they have capable people who can handle that.  However, for (b) and (c), we basically have to build domain-specific models for each problem working in tandem with a natural scientist.  How good the results are depends upon how good the models are.  Sometimes we do not even know how to model the data and then the problems begin.  We try to mine for outliers, find correlations or other patterns.  Integrating data from multiple sources in a generic way is also a huge problem.

Regarding the SSC, they had dug 14.6 miles of tunnels in Ellis County, Texas and then stopped the project.  In the U.S., I see that they regularly dig up roads and repave them almost every summer.  The roads look perfectly fine to me before they dig them up.  It seems such a waste of money.  Supposedly, these are job-generation projects.  Such job generation projects have been going on since FDR's days or something like that.  I think jobs could be generated and yet be more beneficial if they focused less on construction projects and more on environmental projects, scientific projects, etc., instead of digging up perfectly fine roads, and ... Maybe someone associated with the construction industry can correct my lack of knowledge in this area if I am wrong... For example, digging these tunnels for the SSC/LHC must have generated a lot of jobs, why not continue it then?  BTW, I am "small scientist", so, it is in my selfish interest to have more money come into small science, but, for cases, where you get to answer such grand questions, some loose purse strings are a good thing.
Last edited by prasen9 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Science News

Postby suresh » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:17 am

Here is an old news report about some of the tests CERN carried out transmitting data over the internet.

Internet speed record set

The amount of data that will come out at CERN is too much to handle. So there will be a lot of hardware and software cuts to bring  things under control.

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:27 am

The data may be too much to send over the internet, but, may be it can be all stored in a database at CERN?  If not, then essentially, they will need streaming algorithms, that are one pass (fast, linear) algorithms that process the data and keep aggregates or interesting datapoints and discard the rest of the data because the whole thing cannot be stored.

update: Found this article on CASTOR2.  Reading between the lines, I think they can store all their data in the database and then processing and communication becomes the bottleneck.  They are not using data stream management systems, which are used when the entire data cannot be stored.
Last edited by prasen9 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:26 pm

Here is some information on what they are doing on the network side.  15-petabytes per year

p.s. Satirists/Spoofists(?) having a field-day with the LHC:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Last edited by prasen9 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:29 am

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, here is your weekly dose of science news, whether you like it or not!  An interesting reading (to me) on the swimming centre at Beijing Olympics.  I visited the area in April and they were still putting finishing touches.  But the stadium and the swim centre called "Water Cube" which does look like a cube are pretty impressive.  Here goes: Water Cube.  Enjoy!

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Re: Science News

Postby gbelday » Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:22 pm

This belongs to more like an "Ancient Science" thread.  Pretty interesting....

Discovering How Greeks Computed in 100 B.C

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Re: Science News

Postby Kumar » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:25 pm

New Material Could Make Objects Invisible

Sci-fi fans know that cloaking technology made Romulan spaceships disappear in Star Trek. Among the real applications pondered for the future of real-world cloaking technology: stealth military devices and new medical techniques.


I am curious as to how it will be used in "new medical techniques"

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Re: Science News

Postby suresh » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:37 am

Two new prime numbers have been discovered recently. The 45th and 46th Mersenne primes were discovered recently by a group in UCLA and another in Germany. Mersenne primes are primes of the form (2^p -1), where p is another prime number.

The 45th (and largest known) Mersenne prime is 2^(43,112,609)-1. It has 12,978,189 digits.

The 46th Mersenne prime is 2^(37,156,667)-1 . It has 11,185,272 digits.

Both were discovered by the GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) project is a wonderful example of distributed computing. Members contribute free time on their computers and run programs written by the project. You can read more about it on their web page: GIMPS Home Page. The project has won a $100,000 prize awarded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to the first person to find a prime number with more than 10 million digits.

Suresh

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:00 am


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Science & Technology News

Postby prasen9 » Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:48 am

If you are missing your daily diet of spams somewhat, here's why

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:50 pm

Believe it, or not! Look at some of the numbers at the middle of the page!

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Re: Science News

Postby prasen9 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:24 am


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Science & Technology News/Chat

Postby prasen9 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:17 pm

The iPad has been released. I-me do not use any gadget like the ipod, iPhone, etc., but I'm somewhat interested in the iPad. Anyone else has comments/thoughts on whether it is good?


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