LHC’s New Name

September 26, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider just got renamed. Now it is called the Black Mesa. In case you didn’t know, Black Mesa is the setting of the game Half Life, which is basically a shooter taking place in a laboratory whose experiments went horribly wrong (horribly is an understatement). It is somewhat ironic, since people think this experiment will end the world, and a part of it has malfunctioned. Anyways, isn’t this cool? Video game culture is intermingling with culture in science. ^_^

McCain’s View on Science and Policy

September 26, 2008

As you can see from all of the posts in this blog, I deem science very high in importance, especially because it runs so many parts of our lives. I can see some of your faces: “What, I hate science, what do you mean it is running my life?” Well, without scientific progress, the comfort you are experiencing right now at home wouldn’t be there, and the future of our Earth depends on how much we can do good science to protect it.

So, there are two candidates, Obama and McCain. I already made a post about Obama’s answers, so it is McCain’s turn. He finally answered the questions, and here is the post. He says many of the same things that Obama did, except they are less detailed and filled with just a bit mumbo jumbo non sequiturs. While I agree with some of his stuff, I can’t help but think he is just filling in empty promises. I mean, his records on the environment is not that great, he talks about off shore drilling and stuff, and something about bringing corporations to these issues. But I am happy to know he supports the space program.

Anyways, here is his stance on the all important issue of energy:

Over time, I believe that we must reform our entire energy economy toward a sustainable mix of new and cleaner power sources that meet the multiple shared objective of promoting environmental, economic and national security.  One of the prevailing issues of our time and the next presidency will be how to deal with the issues of energy security and sustainability.  It is important that we shift to sustainable, clean burning energy sources or advance to technologies that make our more traditional resources cleaner burning.

As President, I will put the country on track to building 45 new reactors by 2030 so that we can meet our growing energy demand and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.  Nuclear power is a proven, domestic, zero-emission source of energy and it is time to recommit to advancing our use of nuclear energy.  The U.S. has not started construction on a new nuclear power plant in over 30 years.  Currently, nuclear power provides 20 percent of our overall energy portfolio.  Other countries such as China, India and Russia are looking to increase the role of nuclear power in their energy portfolio and the U.S. should not just look to maintain, but increase its own use.

In the progress of other alternative energy sources — such as wind, solar, geothermal, tide, and hydroelectric –government must be an ally but not an arbiter.  In less than a generation, wind power alone could account for a fifth or more of all our electricity.  And just in recent memory, solar energy has gone from a novelty to a fast-growing industry.  I’ve voted against the current patchwork of tax credits for renewable power because they were temporary, and often the result of who had the best lobbyist instead of who had the best ideas.  But the objective itself was right and urgent.  And when I’m signing laws, instead of casting one of a hundred votes, I intend to see that objective better served.  We will reform this effort so that it is fair, rational, and permanent, letting the market decide which ideas can move us toward clean and renewable energy.

I will also commit the federal government to a prosperous clean technology agenda and to becoming the world leader in green technologies.  Americans have always been the world’s leaders in innovation, and it’s time for our economy to adapt and take an active role in the new green international economy.

These investments by government into basic research along with aggressive and realistic targets for greenhouse gas emissions will be critical in spurring revolutionary innovations in energy that will, over the long term, reduce energy costs and increase economic growth.

I don’t like the part where he says some of the renewable resources are “just temporary.” So, yeah, make your own choice, but personally, I go with Obama. Oh, and here is a nice website where you can check on the politicians.

Lawyers and Games

September 25, 2008

I know this is out of topic for my blog, but… The anti gaming lawyer Jack Thompson has been disbarred from the Floridian Supreme Court! Hell yeah, score one for free speech! In case you don’t know, Jack Thompson is a really annoying and idiotic lawyer who thinks video games are too violent, and adults can’t make decisions for themselves. He also think that video games will drive everyone into a violent frenzy. You know what? There might be something to it. After playing Mario, I suddenly wanted to stomp on every turtles I found along the way. Since there were no turtles, I took my anger of turtles to stuffed animals, and stomped them over and over again. Was that a deviation of my normal behavior, you say? Naahh… I am always that weird.

If there is going to be regulations, at least keep children from buying it, which is something I would agree with (teenagers don’t count as children). If not, make sure adults are responsible enough to keep such games to their children. Besides, there is already a rating system that informs people about the levels of violence and stuff there is going to be in video games. But to ban games like Grand Theft Auto? That is just too much, adults are capable of making their own decisions, and it is a violation of the freedom of expression as told by the 1st amendment of the constitution. And how come movies have it so easy? There is a sex scene in a movie, and bang, it is pg 13, and if there is sex in video games, bang, it is mature (+17). You know, just thinking that may be some points of view might be a tad biased.

(hat tip to gonintendo)

Radioactive Dating: Accurate or Not?

September 25, 2008

Today, in my animal science class, I heard from a teacher something that I didn’t think I would hear from anyone. Quote almost verbatim: “Radioactive dating is not accurate, they want you to think it is.” There are two reasons this quote annoys me. Firstly, it speaks of great arrogance, as if she knows more than the nuclear physicists about its accuracy, and as if they were stupid enough not to take account of the uncertainties.

Whether she is talking about the uncertainties, I doubt it. I hardly see that ordinary citizens are concerned with uncertainty in measurements. Besides, the uncertainties are within the limits that is deemed acceptable. Because of that, I believe she means that the dating either gives a wide range of results for rocks with the same age. Which is not true. As you can see in the chart, the meteorite rocks give consistent results in the approximation of the age of the solar system. Also, she misses the fact that radioactive decay is not dependent on environmental factors, only an element’s half life, which should be consistent because the decay of half of the atoms is totally probabilistic, and anyone who knows statistics can tell you that the more the more you flip the coin, the less the little deviations like 5 heads extras in a sample of say 20 or 50 count. As you can see, the one with 50 flips is more towards with 50/50. Anyways, the atoms had thousands to millions of years to decay, so its age will approximate to the half life. Besides, I trust the nuclear physicists more when speaking of radioactive decay than an animal science teacher, just as I trust her that she knows about animal science since she has studied it.

Cludy Night and Out of Focus Camera

September 22, 2008

This Saturday, I went to my second star party, and no, we didn’t dance or eat food while we worshipped the stars. A star party is an event in which people interested in astronomy gathers to show off their telescopes and observe a few stars. After the drive through the dark, curvy road (a bit scary, if you ask me), it turns out that I missed in seeing Jupiter, daggnabit! I just have never seen Jupiter through a telescope, so you can see the disappointment I had.

On the other hand, I got to see a few double stars. We didn’t look to a lot of things because of the stupid clouds. While we were waiting for clouds to clear up in a certain area, I noticed a bright dot crossing the sky, which was probably a man made object. Not only that, a few guys there mentioned the International Space Station would be crossing. Was that the ISS?! If it was, cool, if it wasn’t… I am still OK with it. I mean, it is a freaking man made object that people have put up there! An impressive accomplishment that even if it was just a small satellite, I still would have thought it was cool.

After waiting a while, a guy decided to find the Ring Nebula. It was somewhat of a miracle that he found it quickly, since he told everyone that the day before, it took him a while to find it, and he lost it everytime he tried to focus the camera in the telescope. Now, when you look at a nebula through a telescope, it is not like in the pictures where they show flashy colors. It was kind of like a dark blue fog. Now, it may seem dull, but I liked it. It was a remnant from some sort of dying star, which I think is cool. He tried to take a picture of it, but unfortunately, the light didn’t arrive at the plane of where the camera is supposed to grab the photons at. It took a while, since he tried various things to focus the image, but alas, the lens of the telescope wasn’t meant to have pictures taken with. At least I had the chance to try a very large scope, which I rotated everywhere. If it weren’t for the trees and the fact that the eyepiece was high up in the scope, I would have seen more. In the end, they did manage to take a picture of a blue star, which was kind of like a doughnut with a dark center, and a very bright halo.

The star party wasn’t as eventful as last time. I bet that everyone was pessimistic that the cloud would clear, which it did, though there still were a whole bunch of patches. Clouds, they are the bane of all astronomers. The last thing I got to observe was a double double, which is basically a 4 star system, in which 2 tightly revolving pairs revolved around each other. I still wanted to see the planets, though (Stupid planets, being in undesireable parts of the sky). After that, I left, and I was rewarded with a piece of pizza, chips (Wha? I just don’t want to say french fries, it is kind of long, wait, this side comment is longer than french fries… I should have gone with french fries 🙂 ), and burgers.

Name of Uranus’s Moons

September 18, 2008

This is the 4th edition of *drum rolls* Pop Quizz! A quizz in which the answers are not obvious and if it is obvious, and you get it wrong, you are rebuked at!!!

Occasionally, I will occasionally ask a question, and the reader will answer them! For every wrong answer, I will consider one of your comments a spam. Ha! See how you like that suckers! (I am kidding, of course) Sometimes, a wrong answer won’t invite rage, some really obvious one will, and you will be called an idiot if you can’t answer the obvious one. In fact, I may have to make an extra page on my blog for the lists of idiots. 🙂

So, question of the day is: 1. 4. Uranus have various moons. Their names are named after the characters of the works of two authors. What are the name of the two authors? (Extra credit to those who know from which work does the name of the moons come from) And no Uranus jokes, K? Read the rest of this entry »

A Doctor’s Lamentation

September 18, 2008

You sometimes go to a doctor’s office, and sometimes, you feel like they don’t care. Well, it is not the doctor’s fault, and here is why. The reality is that doctors face an annoyance called the bureaucracy. It is like a swarm of bees. No matter how much you try to shake them away, more come to bite you. Among the problems doctors face are frivolous lawsuits and getting accused of being frauds. Go and read it, it is really interesting. (thanks to respectful insolence)

Update: Ooops! I made a mistake and wrote it on the page section. Now it is back to the post section.