September 22, 2008

CMB Beach Ball Liberated!

In August 2006 I made a solemn vow:

This is the cosmic microwave background presented in the best known way of conveying scientific information: printed on a beach ball. Talk about an inflationary universe!

...A few years ago WMAP secretly distributed them to cosmologists. Needless to say, the early universe printed on a inflatable ball is something that I have decided I must have. For some reason, despite not being for sale, the ball seems to have its own web site...I pledge now to the internet, ultimate keeper of pledges made to no one in particular, that I will acquire this ball. I am not sure how yet, but I swear to do whatever it takes--breaking into someone's office, posing as an elementary school, sending threatening letters to beach ball manufacturers. whatever.

I am now free to disclose that I have triumphed over the forces allied against me-- the beach ball website that mysteriously refuses to sell it, the people who said I would never amount to anything, the journals that keep rejecting my groundbreaking work on the anisotropy of CMB beach ball distribution, everyone. I have, indeed, obtained the ball:

I can't go into the specifics of where it came from, but let's just say that a certain physics department who could never appreciate it as much as I do had a habit of carelessly leaving it in a usually unlocked room full of other neglected items, which I thoughtfully did them the favor of not stealing. And that I have waited until now to announce to the world because the institution that department belongs to, due to some bureaucratic stuff, took until a year after I had finished to send me my master's degree. Having gotten it in the mail a couple of months ago, I am now free, statute-of-limitations-wise, to reveal the success of Operation CMB Ball Freedom. It is hanging from the ceiling of my apartment, daily inspiring me to contemplate the mysteries of the cosmos. Mission accomplished.

Now a beach ball of the Neutrino Background pattern, that would be something...

September 11, 2008

Please Just Stop

I have no desire to comment on the turn-on of the LHC and the "controversy" over whether we are all going to die. But to fulfil my community service as a guy who occasionally writes about science, I am honor-bound to do so. Plus I need to vent my frustration at basically anyone acting as though it is somehow an unsettled question. My buddy Dave put it best when mock-reporting that the LHC had, as feared, created a dragon. Depending on your tolerance for watching dead-horse beatings I have given you 3 options, reader.

Long Attention Span: If you are interested in a description of why anyone who seriously thinks there is some danger in turning on the collider, or that doing so somehow amounts to "recreating the big bang," is a complete moron read Backreaction's smack-down.

Medium Attention Span: This is one is just me yelling at you: Black holes would only be created in the case that an extrodinarily unlikely theory, that the universe has LARGE extra-dimensions turns out to be true. Something that is totally speculative and which we have NEVER seen any evidence for. On top of this, the particulars of this theory would have to be just right, which, as far as we can tell from other types of measurements, they are not. If all of this extremely disfavored junk turned out to be true, EVEN THEN they would evaporate in a femptosecond due to Hawking radiation. If they didn't, WHICH THEY WOULD SO THERE IS NO POINT IN EVEN WRITING THIS PART, they would be smaller than the nucleus of an atom and travelling at almost the speed of light, so they would never even interact with any normal particles to swallow them up, and would simply fly off into space never to return. And if any of this were possible, it would be happening all the time ALREADY because the cosmic rays bombarding the Earth are equivilent to the collisions that are going to take place, as far as this black hole nonsense is concerned. See how every part of that explaination is rendered moot by the preceding section? Ignoring that many layers of unequivical denounciation for this retarded black hole catastrophe concept means that you should lose the right to ever benefit from science in any way. And if anyone even thinks about uttering the phrase "but anything can happen" I will personally reach through your computer screen and punch you in the eye.

Low Attention Span: Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the Earth Yet?

September 9, 2008

This might be mildly chauvinistic

From McSweeney's:

Physical Theories as Women

0. Newtonian gravity is your high-school girlfriend. As your first encounter with physics, she's amazing. You will never forget Newtonian gravity, even if you're not in touch very much anymore.

1. Electrodynamics is your college girlfriend. Pretty complex, you probably won't date long enough to really understand her.

2. Special relativity is the girl you meet at the dorm party while you're dating electrodynamics. You make out. It's not really cheating because it's not like you call her back. But you have a sneaking suspicion she knows electrodynamics and told her everything.

3. Quantum mechanics is the girl you meet at the poetry reading. Everyone thinks she's really interesting and people you don't know are obsessed about her. You go out. It turns out that she's pretty complicated and has some issues. Later, after you've broken up, you wonder if her aura of mystery is actually just confusion.

6. Cosmology is the girl that doesn't really date, but has lots of hot friends. Some people date cosmology just to hang out with her friends.

Soil physics is the lady you meet at the bus station. She's 45 with dingy teeth, glue-on nails, and 3 kids. She yells at one of them not to turn over the trash can, but he does it anyway. As you pass by, she asks if you know how to get gum out of hair. You keep walking.

Science Tabloids

A harrowing vision of a very different world...where scientists are treated like celebrities.

Still, I would watch it if I were these people. Witten can be pretty sensitive about his shoes, they don't want to get a smack down in his next single PhysRev Letter: E. Witten, T. Shakur, "Hyperdimensional manifold collapse of motherfuckers who talk shit about my footwear" PRL 101 (2008)

Yes, not only is Tupak coming out with new albums every few months, he is also publishing. People are pretty much just remixing his old papers at this point, but that "Feat. T. Shakur" byline in your list of authors still helps you get played. I hear his next article is going to drop in ApJ this winter.