Papadakis publishers have released the Higgs edition of their unique publication – the result of a collaboration between the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN and renowned paper engineer Anton Radevsky. Radevsky’s previous pop-ups include The Modern Architecture Pop-Up Book, The Pop-Up Book Of Space Craft and The Wild West Pop-Up Book. Co-author is Emma Sanders who heads Microcosm, CERN’s museum of particle physics in Geneva, Switzerland. The new edition is supported by the London Science Museum.
In this fabulous example of the art, the pair distil 7000 tonnes of metal, glass, plastic, cables and computer chips into miniature pop-up to tell the story of CERN’s quest to understand the birth of the universe.
You can order the LHC Pop-up book from the usual outlets. More details on the book here. There is a companion volume by Claudia Marcelloni and Colin Barras – Hunting the Higgs. In that book, the story of how two years ago, the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider began investigating the most powerful of particle collisions and ultimately revealed the first experimental evidence for the infamous Higgs boson, the subatomic particle that gives matter its mass.
I just received what has to be the most bizarre press release ever. It’s either totally genuine and totally naive or a really good anti-gun spoof, can’t quite decide:
“Since early eighteenth century the shotgun has been used for hunting and in warfare. Countless deer, rabbits and birds has been killed, and Countless soldiers, from the trenches of Verdun to Bagdad have experienced the deadly blast of led shots. No more.
My name is Per Cromwell. I’m a designer/inventor at ST-labs.
Today we’re launching a product I worked REALLY hard with for a long time: “Flower Shell” a shotgun shell loaded with flower seeds instead of deadly led.
- Transform any 12 gauge shotgun to a life giver instead of a life taker.
- Make gardening more FUN!
- Comes with 12 different seeds. (Columbine, Cornflower, Daisy, Poppy, Sunflower, Peony, meadow flowers and more)
- Each shell is hand made with love.
- The amount of gunpowder has been reduced and adjusted to fit the different seeds.
- More info on www.flowershell.com
If you want more information, piuctures or anything, don’t hesitate to ask me.
This is my dream project.
Best wishes from a foggy autumn Sweden.
ST Per Cromwell”
Yesterday evening we were all Monty Python Dead Comet Sketch over ISON. It was pining for the Oort, this comet had ceased to be, it was no longer trailing up the blazes…etc etc
But, this morning, I wake to hear news that this comet has actually ceased to not be.
Will this be the most viewed animated gif of Black Friday once the US wakes from its turkey-induced tryptophan coma (#deceivedwisdom by the way) that they refer to generously as Thanksgiving?
Touch Press has come up with the perfect gift for the chemist with an iPad in your life with The Elements in Action app. Great videos, neat explanations, easy to use.
Wonderful demonstrations showing why you are not allowed to take mercury and gallium on your holiday flight, a foil “tank” of air floating on sulfur hexafluoride gas, and a quick test to show your titanium tools are genuine and not iron-based fakes…there’s also gallium the element that would have been Salvador Dali’s favourite we suspect, it melts on a hot day, although on a really hot day he might have enjoyed rubidium too. Then there’s the bromine watch…
TouchPress also debunks a couple of bits of pieces of chemical deceived wisdom. For instance, we’re all taught that iodine sublimes when heated, leaping straight from the solid to the gas phase, but the app video shows a distinct liquid phase just before clouds of iodine vapour appear. Caesium does react violently with water, but not quite as cataclysmically as your chemistry teacher may have led you to believe.
The sound of cicadas and crickets in the outdoor video clips may be a little distracting but adds to the authenticity of the sodium or liquid nitrogen in the lake!
According to Brian Clegg, writing about “bromide” in Chemistry World this week. Bromide salts had an early role in reducing the impact of epilepsy and seizures, which were at the time thought to be caused by an over-active libido and more specifically masturbation.
“Potassium bromide was linked to the reduction of sexual passions,” writes Clegg. “It doesn’t seem unreasonable, then, that potassium bromide might be used in an attempt to reduce sexual tension in circumstances where men were isolated for long periods, hence the story of bromide in the tea [given to soldiers during the Great War]“.
Personally, I recall some time in the 1990s during the time I was contributing chemistry news and features to New Scientist magazin, I had a call from a researcher at one of the big UK soap operas at the time (no longer on our screens, oh alright it was Brookside).
The scriptwriters had a character (Sinbad) who was being overlibidinous and the researcher wanted to know if there were anything they might have his girlfriend add to his tea to temper his desires. They’d heard about “bromide”, but that does seem still to be considered something of a myth, as Brian explains.
I don’t remember what I actually told the researcher they might use, but suggested whatever it was would complicate the “humourous” plotline by introducing an element of pharmaceutical fraud, whereby the girlfriend would have to get hold of something prescription only (an antidepressant/sedative with libido-reducing side-effects, for instance).
I think in the end the scriptwriters were told to find another way that Sinbad’s girlfriend might quell his desires…given that he was the soap’s windowcleaner maybe they had her slap about the place with a wet squeegee…
Okay…you know people always say that travelling back in time, with a “time machine”, wormhole or whatever, would be impossible because if you could go back in time, you might bump into your grandparents before your parents were conceived and somehow your presence prevents one of the conceptions that lead to your parents and ultimately you so that you are never born so are never “in the future” so that you could never use that time machine to travel back and stymie the conception of one of your parents, so you would be born and so could travel back in time and…you get it…it’s a PARADOX. They even made a whole movie franchise from it starring Michael J Fox, after all.
But, here’s the the thing. If you were able to travel back in time and somehow stopped your mother giving birth to you so that you never travelled back in time then, the timeloop might alternatively close so that you’d be stuck in the time before your birth with no time machine…
Anyway, enough of that, here’s an amusing video showing most of the continuity and a few metaphysical bloopers in Back to the Future
Scientists have the strongest evidence yet that granite exists on Mars. The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed.
Large amounts of a mineral found in granite, feldspar, have been detected by the spectrometers on board the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; the granite is present in an ancient Martian volcano. Moreover, minerals that are common in basalts that are rich in iron and magnesium, ubiquitous on Mars, are nearly completely absent at this location. The location of the feldspar also provides an explanation for how granite could have formed on Mars.
Granite, or its eruptive equivalent, rhyolite, is often found on Earth in tectonically active regions such as subduction zones. This is unlikely on Mars, but the researchers studying the data suggest that prolonged magmatic activity on Mars may well have led to these compositions on large scales.
I know some of you will be starting to think about Christmas already…don’t worry, that’s fine. I’ve got a little sing-along-a-Dave treat coming up for you with which you can begin the “celebrations”. I might even accept gifts this year, as long as they’re of the 40% distilled C2H5OH-H2O flavoured azeotrope variety, preferably from Northern Ireland rather than Scotland.
Anyway, if you are starting preparations early (it’s 15th November folks, no need to rush), here’s a little festive warning you can cut out and pin to your noticeboard or stick to your fridge with that Xmas pudding fridge magnet you got in your stocking in 1997, you know the one that falls off when you try to stick anything heavier than a dead fly’s wing with it…
You can get 12-armed snow crystals that are essential a double 6 with a twist and triangular crystals are like compressed hexagons. If I remember, rightly it’s all in Deceived Wisdom where I quote from the main man in this area http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/class/class.htm
NB: I temporarily removed this post from circulation while I thought about the details. Given the public bile surrounding these photos I didn’t want to give any vigilante details that might help someone locate the alleged hunter, but I think this current edit tells the story without raising potential problems. My concerns about the photo: there is smearing and blurring of these low res photos as if they have been manipulated so there is still ambiguity, but there is an additional photo and description on the hunter’s blog post that would suggest that any tweaks or jpf compression artefacts are incidental and the photos are genuine, after all.
UPDATE to the UPDATE: A sciencebase reader found what appears to be a blog from the hunter himself, in which he discusses the various people pictured and how killing an elephant was apparently his life’s ambition.
UPDATE: A detailed analysis of the low-res, grainy images that were available show that (obviously) the main man in both photos is the same person. So, we might now assume that he shot the elephant and had two photos taken, one with a fellow hunter and a second with various other people on the hunting safari at a different time. In one photo (the one with the group as opposed to the pair) flash was used, hence the colour tonal differences between. The sky behind and the fact that the surrounding foliage and twigs etc on the ground have not moved.
ORIGINAL: There’s a “photo” on the internet that’s been circulating for months, but is gaining new traction on Facebook for some reason as people start to share it blindly. It purports to show an elephant that has been shot while eating and shows the “family” who allegedly killed it. I was suspicious of the pixel edges around the bizarrelly well-staged family grouping who are supposedly honkered down behind the dead animal.
I checked on Snopes. Nothing. Hoaxslayer has done a detailed analysis and claims it’s a genuine photo from a hunting safari company called “Frikkie du Toit” which has a gallery of various people with their kills.
Here’s the photo that’s doing the rounds right now:
Accompanying this photo are a lot of expletive-heavy comments and the text “This Rich Family Killed an Elephant while it was eating. Let’s make them famous. I see 5 animals and 1 elephant!”
To be honest, that looks like the most unlikely hunting group ever, to my eye. But there are also tell-tale signs that it’s faked. Look at the guy’s right hand, doesn’t it look a bit blurred as if someone used imaging editing to hide what he was really resting his hand on?
The gun? Doesn’t look like any weapon I’ve ever seen, looks like someone drew it on with a 3pixel line tool in their photo editor. The pixel edges of the female on the left and the boy at the back don’t look right either. And, why are they all grinning inanely as if it were actually just a family snapshot rather than their looking mean and hunter-like. Oh, by the way, do hunting safaris allow minors along?
But, here’s the real clue that it’s not genuine: There’s an almost identical photo with different hunters on the “Frikkie” site, which looks just as fake (look at the placement of the hunter on the left’s elbow):
So, who killed the elephant? I suspect it was not hunters nor poachers (tusks are still present) and that it was probably killed legally at a time when there was an elephant cull in that region. I don’t know why anyone would simulate this photo. But, if it were current and genuine, don’t you think one of the real news outlets as opposed to activist blogs and facebookers would have reported on it?
The real worrying thing is the murderous, vigilante intent of many people who comment on the image, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Imagine if someone ‘shopped your head into a nasty photo like this, blurred it a bit and spread it around the internet telling everyone you should be shot for being such an “animal”…
If anyone has any real evidence that there really was a family that killed this elephant while it was eating, I’m happy to update this post
More poetic silliness with a scientific bent. This time another hero, one of the great polymath scientist and science communicators – Michael Faraday – who started out as a chemical assistant to Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the eponymous miner’s lamp.
It’s a distant memory to me, but apparently barbers and hairdressers still chunter on to their customers as they snip and tease the cranial follicular extrusions: “Turned out nice again…although they’re forecasting snow…oh that Chancellor’s got a nerve cutting benefits and introducing new taxes, and have you seen the price of petrol these days…going anywhere nice on your holidays, then?
In case you hadn’t already guessed, hairdressers, like beauty therapists, nurses, taxi drivers and many others involved in one-to-one occupations (with the exception of doctors) are generally not interested in your responses to their verbal outpourings. The stream of consciousness, the unceasing gossip, the endless chit-chat is a barrier. An aural barrier they erect to create an auditory fog that lets them escape into their own world and focus on the task in hand whether that’s tussling with your tresses or taxiing you from A to Z…
There are many occupations that create a wall of sound around employees, factory work, construction, railway engineer etc and as such, those involved in that work are encapsulated by the sound or if it is above a certain threshold they wear ear protection which encapsulates them in what you might think of as a negative sound space. They might fancy a chat on the job but there’s no opportunity until a tea break comes along. For those who work in the not-so-splendid isolation of the office cubicle, the whirring of a printer, the background chatter of colleagues on the phone and the trundling of the post-room trolley set up the aural landscape for them. But, unless they’re engaged in a phone conversation themselves they need not create the kind of barrier needed by those working one-to-one, such as the hairdresser and taxi driver.
Recently, Harriet Shortt of the Department of Business and Management, at the University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, in Bristol, UK, has focused specifically on the auditory landscape of the hairdressing salon. In her research, reported in the International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, Shortt explains how employees construct their auditory barriers, or one might say, their imaginary escape routes, to help them cope with the constant emotional labour of their task. This is an especially important consideration in ensuring employee wellbeing and mental health where an occupation requires the employee to be constantly on display and offers little refuge behind the walls of a cubicle or in front of a screen or in the more naturally noisy environment of the factory floor, for instance.
Shortt H. (2013). Sounds of the salon: the auditory routines of hairdressers at work, International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 5 (4) 342. DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2013.057400
The original Movember hipsters?
Some start-the-week-fun with science. A few of my heroes immortalised in what I self-generously refer to as “verse”, as if any of them need me to “immortalise” them with rhyme…now with added Higgs.
Feynman never suffered any fool quite gladly
His diagrams confused but they were no fadly
And his bongos he’d bang and his hands hurt so badly
Though his memory lives on, he’s long gone very sadly
A dark lady slaved in the lab of a King
With the secret of life she did play
But, Watson and Crick a structure did bring
Nikola Tesla had magnetic charm
A twentieth century star
His current alternating was so fascinating
And his name now quite grandly a car
Quantally speaking Albert couldn’t have cared
Any less of a man would have run away scared
But he saw the light and he speedily shared
Energy equals mass times velocity squared
Now with added Higgs
Bosuns at sea, they’re always nautical
Bosons in fields are Higgs’ kind of article
They give matter its mass,
taking flight aeronautical
A Nobel pursuit good God, heavy particle!
Is there anything Nobel-winning, all-carbon, one-atom-thick, wonder material graphene won’t be able to do? Here’s a demonstration of a graphene “piano”…
…were as close to the Earth as the International Space Station (ISS). Gravitational and tidal effects aside, this is a nice photorealistic animation to show the night during the day.
And, then…what if the Earth had rings like Saturn?
In Robert Llewellyn’s eagerly awaited sequel to News From Gardenia, erstwhile engineer Gavin Meckler is trying to get back to the present in his Youneec aircraft, but something is amiss. He soon realises he has travelled sideways through time to another possible future, as unlike his visit to 2211 “Gardenia” as our own era.
Llewellyn, known to geeks everywhere as the actor who plays Kryten in the BBC comedy sci-fi Red Dwarf and as a big fan of sustainable technologies and electric vehicles, provides an intriguing perspective on a second possible future for humanity. In “Squares”, it’s no agrarian, hippy love-in, this time, men (who are all well over two metres tall, but outnumbered by females 10 to 1) are now playing the roles traditionally taken by women, while the women run the vast mega cities that evolved from our current metropolitan areas and covered each nations. Bio-inspired materials science allows the women of the future to grow buildings and a neck-wrenching terrestrial and sea-based transport system that outstrips our puny supersonic flight. It soon becomes apparent to Meckler that the world is soon to vote on whether to eradicate the male of the species once and for all…and his timely presence could change the course of history.
A quick and gripping read with some intriguing insights and even a neat reference to today’s wonder material graphene! Can’t wait to read the final part of the trilogy.
We’ve got it all wrong, it seems. We invest millions in recycling centres, refuse sorting facilities, and in some parts of the world in assimilating every last scrap of metal, plastic, glass and feeding it back into the system as usable source materials whether that’s for plastics recycling, remanufacturing, metal melting and smelting or simply grinding up green glass to make grit for under-road hardcore. Instead, we should be designing from the perspective, not of making products recyclable, but of making out lifestyles sustainable.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. After all, millions of people want the latest shiny toys, the smart phones to map their social networks, plot their routes around strange cities, and even call their friends for a chat. Millions hanker after the low-energy, efficiency-rated white goods that wash whiter, dry faster and purportedly make for domestic bliss, although the low-cost robot that loads and empties the dishwasher and irons its own dustcover is yet to be released on to a market that waits with baited breath, freshened with the autoflossing electric toothbrush.
It is time we overcame the idea that we – in the Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern world, developed or otherwise – must seek at the latest and greatest if we are to have happy fulfilled lives. There are, it seems, just too many issues that must be addressed before we can stop worrying. Dwindling fossil fuels, fracking friction, nuclear incidents, turbine trouble, cracked solar panels, rising sea levels, flooding, drought, oh and the relatively smaller matter of much of the world concerned with attacking its neighbours for whatever reason. Nevertheless, writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Design, Christa Liedtke, Johannes Buhl and Najine Ameli of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy in Germany, argue that instead of focusing on objects, designers must adopt a user-centric perspective. “A sustainable design of products and services requires the integration of production-orientated (efficiency and consistency) and consumption-orientated (sufficiency) strategies,” they explain. They introduce the concept of an indicator that can assess total lifecycle of a product and that can then integrate design and engineering into a strategically sustainable approach. “The goal is not to design sustainable products but rather to design systems that manage to foster sustainable lifestyles,” they say.
The team estimates that to provide a sustainable world, our lifestyles need an order of magnitude shift downwards in terms of the resources each of us in the West, and a growing number elsewhere in the world, use each day. An entirely new approach to design and products as well as a paradigm shift in our perspective as disposable consumers with an eye on the recycling centre will be needed. Recycling is not enough, we have to some design out desire…
Liedtke, C., Buhl, J. and Ameli, N., “Designing value through less by integrating sustainability strategies into lifestyles,” Int. J. Sustainable Design, 2013, 2, 167-180.
Amygdalin the so-called safe and natural anticancer vitamin B17, is none of those things. It is not a vitamin in any sense of the word. It has no anticancer properties. It is poisonous.
The compound, formula C20H27NO11, is a glycoside initially isolated from the seeds of the tree Prunus dulcis in the nineteenth century, also known as bitter almonds. Enzymes (namely glucosidases) found in the gut and in some foods break down amygdalin to release hydrogen cyanide. See also synthetic derivative, laetrile.
“Cochrane Collaboration” had this to say:
“The claims that laetrile or amygdalin have beneficial effects for cancer patients are not currently supported by sound clinical data. There is a considerable risk of serious adverse effects from cyanide poisoning after laetrile or amygdalin, especially after oral ingestion. The risk–benefit balance of laetrile or amygdalin as a treatment for cancer is therefore unambiguously negative.”
Milazzo S., Ernst E., Lejeune S., Boehm K., Horneber M. & Milazzo S. (2011). Laetrile treatment for cancer, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005476.pub3
I’ve always moderated comments on my blogs. I own the blogs, I’m an independent science journalist, no blog “network” safety net for me, so why wouldn’t I? I treat the comments section like a letters editor at a newspaper would. All legitimate comments are posted, always have been, but trolling, libellous or other garbage (spam, advertising etc) do not pass muster and are not up-moderated.
That’s not censorship, this is my blog, I run it, have done since 1999 (and before that I had other websites dating back to 1995). I’ve worked hard on my sites and I pay the hosting fees and try to keep the site shiny and fresh. If you want to post hateful nonsense, you can build your own site and post it there, feel free and see where it gets you.
I now feel somewhat vindicated that I never let the garbage on to my sites: Judges at the European Court have made the ludicrous decision to hold news sites and blogs legally responsible for all the comments that appear on their sites even if they remove those comments after a complaint. This means that any offended party could pursue a news organisation or blog for an allegedly defamatory comment made about them even after it has been removed from the website. More on the specifics here.
Moreover, as I understand it, in English law now if someone sues you for libel and you win, you still have to pay their legal fees…they say the law is an ass*, I wouldn’t go that far, just in case some judge sues…
*NB US readers: foolish and stubborn like a donkey, not round and fleshy like a butt.
There’s lots of discussion right now about the so-called “God particle“, the Higgs boson, the notion of a time before time. There are those who worry about what triggered the Big Bang, whether we live in a universal hologram akin to the “world” that exists beneath the event horizon of a black hole. Perhaps the universe is headed for eternal entropy death, or a Big Crunch, perhaps dark matter and dark energy will yield some answers when we finally figure out what they actually are and how they can account for almost all the mass-energy of the universe and yet remain invisible.
Moreover, some suggest that the universe itself may well be a black hole, perhaps one of countless in an infinite frothy spume or that there are myriad realities all existing in parallel in which every single path taken by every single atom across the universe somehow represents a different existence in that multiverse.
Big Bang Theory
From the very start, entropic decompression, outstripping light, no sound…on deflection
Focused apprehension written large
Like the word of some almighty pressure
At the very start energetic high expression releases light and sound, found on reflection
Colder than the comfort
Weaker at the moment
Beauty and the feeling of everything that’s the new
Colder than the comfort
Weaker at the moment
From the very first, the moment of conception, outsourcing light and sound, all imperfections
Final thoughts are written out so clear
Like a world with so many under pressure
To the very end, entropic decompression deconstructing light and sound, no reflection
But colder, there’s no comfort
In the weakness of the moment
Beauty fails and nothing’s left as new
Colder than the comfort
Weaker at the very moment
Colder, there’s no comfort
In the weakness of the moment
Beauty fails and nothing’s left for free
Colder than the comfort
Weaker at the moment
COMMENTS about this song culled from SongWriterForum
“Bit of a fusion thing going on here…which I’m liking a lot :-) :-) Love the jazzy feel. The way the vocal melody interacts/scans with the music is very clever and sophisticated…..a real pleasure to listen to.”
“Nice instrumentation….especially liked the chord progression, and I thought that sort of soft, clipped effect on the guitar worked really well.”
“Love your style……great song”
“the mix was very very good super crisp & clear & i realy liked the bouncy rhythm”
“It’s a really good sound you’ve got, seems very ‘airy’ without any harsh treble, nice. The words are great, very unique and the guitar sounds really tight too.”
“This is an interesting mix of things. Production excellent as always. Music and vocal are very good.”
“Such a great song. Love the chord progression! It’s awesome music”