Friday, August 13, 2010
They were unable to find the Higgs with the Tevatron, but now they're
looking for it with the Large Hadron Collider, the most expensive
scientific instrument ever built. Its the only piece of the Standard
Model of Particle Physics that remains to be discovered. So how do they
know the Higgs even exists? They don't; that's why they're looking for it.
If the Higgs is found, somebody is going to get a Nobel Prize. It was
independently predicted by three theoretical physics groups at virtually
the same time, 46 years ago. You might think they ought to share the
prize, except for the rule (theres always a rule): the prize can be
divided among no more than three people -- not three groups. Six people,
including Peter Higgs of Scotland, have a legitimate claim to the prize.
This kind of thing has come up before. The anointed winners always say in
their acceptance speech that theyre really accepting it on behalf of all
the people who worked on it. Yeah, that's life. The Higgs squabble is
different; it's over credit for predicting a particle for which there is
not yet the tiniest shred of physical evidence.
An English-language wiki project written from an American conservative-
Christian viewpoint, Conservapedia was started in 2006 by home school
teacher and attorney Andy Schlafly, son of conservative Catholic activist
Phyllis Schlafly, to counter what he calls "the liberal bias of
Wikipedia." The extent of my own liberal bias can be judged by the fact
that I was unaware of Conservapedia until it was pointed out to me by a WN
reader last week. He was calling my attention to conservative hatred of
Einstein and his theory of Relativity. As Conservapedia put it: "The
theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It
is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism
and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world." This
hopeless confusion of physical theory with Christian-conservative moral
values extends to a list of 28 counterexamples.
Marketed under the brand name "ella," the new emergency contraception pill,
, can prevent a
pregnancy as many as five days after sex. It was approved by the FDA today.
You will recall that the earlier emergency contraceptive "Plan B" had to be
taken within 72 hours to be effective. The new pill, "ella" ove3rcomes
the "weekend problem." Critics insist that it can also be used as an
abortion pill. The evidence is mounting, however, that the world is already
well beyond the sustainability limit. It is not enough to slow the growth
of population, the world must begin seriously reducing population. Science,
however, does not take sides. This morning's Washington Post has a front-
page story about the popularity of fertility treatments in seriously-
overpopulated India for women in their 60s and even 70s.