Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Double Butterfly Jasmine flowers in my garden.
Botanical Name : abernaemontana divaricata Variegata 'Flore Plena'
Common Name : Crepe Jasmine, Double Crepe Jasmine, Indian Carnation Flower, Double White Gardenia, Creme & Green Double Butterfly Jasmine
Family: Apocynaceae (dogbane family)
The large shiny leaves are green and are 6 or more inches in length and about 2 inches in width. The waxy blossoms are white double five-petaled pinwheels that are borne in small clusters on the stem tips.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Transformer glitch shuts down biggest atom smasher
By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 18, 5:18 PM ET
GENEVA - The world's largest particle collider malfunctioned within hours of its launch to great fanfare, but its operator didn't report the problem for a week.
In a statement Thursday, the European Organization for Nuclear Research reported for the first time that a 30-ton transformer that cools part of the collider broke, forcing physicists to stop using the atom smasher just a day after starting it up last week.
The faulty transformer has been replaced and the ring in the 17-mile circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border has been cooled back down to near zero on the Kelvin scale — minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit — the most efficient operating temperature, said a statement by CERN, as the organization is known.
When the transformer malfunctioned, operating temperatures rose from below 2 Kelvin to 4.5 Kelvin — extraordinarily cold by most standards, but warmer than the normal operating temperature.
CERN had not reported any problems with the project since its launch Sept. 10, but issued its statement shortly after The Associated Press called asking about rumors of troubles.
Physicists said it wasn't surprising problems would occur in getting a huge and immensely complicated collection of equipment like theup and running smoothly.
"This is arguably the largest machine built by humankind, is incredibly complex, and involves components of varying ages and origins, so I'm not at all surprised to hear of some glitches," Steve Giddings, physics professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. "It's a real challenge requiring incredible talent, brain power and coordination to get it running."
Judith Jackson, spokesman for thein Batavia, Ill., echoed that view.
"We know how complex and extraordinary it is to start up one of these machines. No one's built one of these before and in the process of starting it up there will inevitably be glitches," she said.
Fermilab is home to the Tevatron, an accelerator that collides protons and antiprotons in a 4-mile-long underground ring to allow physicists to study. Jackson said transformer malfunctions can be common and aren't dangerous.
"These things happen," she said. "It's a little setback and it sounds like they've dealt with it and are moving forward."
The Large Hadron Collider is designed to collide protons in the beams so that they shatter and reveal more about the makeup of matter and the universe.
After it was started up Sept. 10, scientists circled a beam of protons in a clockwise direction at the speed of light. They shut that down, then turned on a counterclockwise beam.
"Several hundred orbits" were made, CERN's statement said.
On the evening of Sept. 11, scientists had succeeded in controlling the counterclockwise beam with equipment that keeps the protons in the tightly bunched stream that will be needed for collisions, but then the transformer failed and the system was shut down, the statement said.
The clockwise beam was not on at the time. Now that the transformer has been replaced and the equipment rechilled, scientists expect to try soon to tighten the clockwise beam and prepare experiments in coming weeks, the statement said.
Before the problem occurred, scientists had said it would probably be several weeks before the first significant collisions were attempted.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
by ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer
"There it is," project leader Lyn Evans said when the beam completed its lap.
Champagne corks popped in labs as far away as Chicago, where contributing and competing scientists watched the proceedings by satellite.
Five hours later, scientists successfully fired a beam counterclockwise.
Physicists around the world now have much greater power to smash the components of atoms together in attempts to learn about their structure.
"Well done, everybody," said Robert Aymar, director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, to cheers from the assembled scientists in the collider's control room at the Swiss-French border.
The organization, known by its French acronym CERN, began firing the protons — a type of subatomic particle — around the tunnel in stages less than an hour earlier, with the first beam injection at 9:35 a.m. (0735 GMT).
Eventually two beams will be fired at the same time in opposite directions with the aim of recreating conditions a split second after the big bang, which scientists theorize was the massive explosion that created the universe.
"My first thought was relief," said Evans, who has been working on the project since its inception in 1984. "This is a machine of enormous complexity. Things can go wrong at any time. But this morning has been a great start."
He didn't want to set a date, but said that he expected scientists would be able to conduct collisions for their experiments "within a few months."
The collider is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around the tunnel.
Scientists hope to eventually send two beams of protons through two tubes about the width of fire hoses, speeding through a vacuum that is colder and emptier than outer space. The paths of these beams will cross, and a few protons will collide. The collider's two largest detectors — essentially huge digital cameras weighing thousands of tons — are capable of taking millions of snapshots a second.
The CERN experiments could reveal more about "dark matter," antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time. It could also find evidence of the hypothetical particle — the Higgs boson — which is sometimes called the "God particle" because it is believed to give mass to all other particles, and thus to matter that makes up the universe.
The supercooled magnets that guide the proton beam heated slightly in the morning's first test, leading to a pause to recool them before trying the opposite direction.
The start of the collider came over the objections of some who feared the collision of protons could eventually imperil the Earth by creating micro-black holes, subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars.
"It's nonsense," said James Gillies, chief spokesman for CERN.
CERN was backed by leading scientists like Britain's Stephen Hawking , who declared the experiments to be absolutely safe.
Gillies told the AP that the most dangerous thing that could happen would be if a beam at full power were to go out of control, and that would only damage the accelerator itself and burrow into the rock around the tunnel.
Nothing of the sort occurred Wednesday, though the accelerator is still probably a year away from full power.
The project organized by the 20 European member nations of CERN has attracted researchers from 80 nations. Some 1,200 are from the United States, an observer country that contributed US$531 million. Japan, another observer, also is a major contributor.
Some scientists have been waiting for 20 years to use the LHC.
The complexity of manufacturing it required groundbreaking advances in the use of supercooled, superconducting equipment. The 2001 start and 2005 completion dates were pushed back by two years each, and the cost of the construction was 25 percent higher than originally budgeted in 1996, Luciano Maiani, who was CERN director-general at the time, told The Associated Press.
Maiani and the other three living former directors-general attended the launch Wednesday.
Smaller colliders have been used for decades to study the makeup of the atom. Less than 100 years ago scientists thought protons and neutrons were the smallest components of an atom's nucleus, but in stages since then experiments have shown they were made of still smaller quarks and gluons and that there were other forces and particles.
On the Net:
The U.S. at the LHC: http://www.uslhc.us/