Covalent writes "The Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator and the 'Big Bang machine' that was used to discover what appears to be the long-sought Higgs boson particle (as announced July 4), may have another surprise up its sleeve this year: The LHC looks to have produced a new type of matter, according to a new analysis of particle collision data by scientists at MIT and Rice University. The new type of matter, which has yet to be verified, is theorized to be one of two possible forms: Either 'color-glass condensate' — a flattened nucleus transformed into a 'wall' of gluons, which are smaller binding subatomic particles, or it could be 'quark-gluon plasma,' a dense, soup or liquid-like collection of individual particles."
Tonight's debate between the two largest American political parties' candidates for vice president of the United States takes place at Danville, Kentucky's Centre College, starting at 9 p.m. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will face each other on stage, and are expected to talk about issues "including the economy, foreign policy and the role of the Vice President," according to C-SPAN, which will feature a live streaming view of the event. (Criteria from the Commission on Presidential Debates means you won't hear tonight from other presidential candidates' running mates (like Cheri Honkala, Jim Clymer, and James Gray, of the Green, Constitution, and Libertarian party tickets, respectively). If you'll be watching the debate tonight, please add your commentary below. It would be helpful if you start your comment's title with a time-stamp (to the minute), too, for context. (Like this: "9:08: $Candidate just intentionally mis-repeated the Q on taxes.") And Yes, we're posting this here in a vain attempt to keep the political discussion out of other story threads tonight. Update: 10/12 01:18 GMT by U L : If you don't have flash, you can use rtmpdump and mplayer to watch (incantation duplicated below, in case the site is slashdotted).
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft founder Bill Gates has pledged to develop with Korea a revolutionary nuclear reactor that will leave far less radioactive waste than existing ones. Gates invested US$35 million in a nuclear-power venture company TerraPower in 2010. TerraPower is led by John Gilleland. It was formed from an effort initiated in 2007 by Nathan Myhrvold's company, Intellectual Ventures. The company includes expert staff and individual consultants who have worked for some of the most prestigious nuclear laboratories and engineering companies in the world." You may remember that Gates worked with China to build a reactor late last year.
You asked questions about the LHC (and in particular, the believed discovery of the Higgs Boson) of physicist Giovanni Organtini. Organtini has responded (answers below), and written a brief introduction to explain what the Higgs boson is and how it provides mass to other particles: "The Higgs mechanism was introduced to explain the fact that experimentally particles have mass. In fact, without the Higgs mechanism, the equations of motion for particles can only be written for massless particles. The actual mechanism is rather difficult to understand without a solid Quantum Field Theory background, but can be understood as follows: most of you know that particles gain some energy when they interact with a field. As an example, consider a book on a table. Since the book is subject to the earth's gravitational field, it has some potential energy that transforms into kinetic energy if it is free to fall. The potential energy depends on the mass of the book and on the intensity of the gravitational field. With the introduction of Special Relativity, however, we have to add an extra term to the energy of the book depending on its mass only (the famous E=mc^2). Introducing a special field (the Higgs field), we can turn this term into something similar to the gravitational potential energy, i.e. something that contributes to the energy of the book because it interacts with a field. The mass of a particle, then, is nothing but its potential energy in the Higgs field. The Higgs field is auto-interacting, i.e. it interacts with itself, as the electric and magnetic fields do. As the electromagnetic field can, the Higgs field can also propagate through space, but since it's auto-interacting, it gains some energy from itself, as the book gains energy from the interaction with it, resulting in the appearance of a mass for such a field, that becomes observable as a particle called the Higgs boson. You can find a more formal, yet simple, explanation of the mechanism here." Read on for his answers to reader questions.
An anonymous reader writes "I am a systems administrator for a mid size state agency. We currently offer Blackberries to our staff, but we are migrating to Android devices in the near future. Since phones have sensative data (email, documents, etc.), what is a good choice for encrypting that data? Options abound, like OS-level encryption from Motorola and Samsung, 3rd party apps from GoTrusted and even a LUKS port for Android. Does anyone have experience managing encrypted Android devices? What are the important features I should be looking at? Many thanks in advance." (And, for that matter, are there good options for doing the same with iPhones? Other options to consider?)
Giovanni Organtini of Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (well, Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) has agreed to answer questions about the recent observations of a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson. Dr. Organtini is part of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He is careful to note that while the researchers "[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson," they "need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that. Organtini likes free software (he's written Linux device drivers, too) and has his own physics-heavy YouTube channel, mostly in Italian. Please confine questions to one per post, but feel free to ask as many as you'd like.
fallen1 writes "Wireless broadband company LightSquared has filed for bankruptcy. In filings with U.S. Bankruptcy court, it was revealed that LightSquared had assets and debts of over $1 billion each. The decision followed a year-long fight between LightSqaured and GPS users — including some heavyweights like FedEx and UPS. Apparently Boeing and Alcatel-Lucent are heavily invested, but it would be interesting to see what the old Bell Labs could do with the technology."
Harperdog writes "Noah Schactman has a great piece on the Airborne Laser, the ray gun-equipped 747 that became a symbol of wasteful Pentagon weaponeering. Despite sixteen years and billions of dollars in development, the jet could never reliably blast a missile in trials. Now the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces wants the Airborne Laser to be used to defend us against the threat of North Korea's failed missiles."
New submitter ph4cr writes with news that a new particle has been discovered at CERN that confirms theoretical predictions. A pre-print of the academic paper is available at the arXiv (PDF). From the article: "Physicists from the University of Zurich have discovered a previously unknown particle composed of three quarks in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator. A new baryon could thus be detected for the first time at the LHC. The baryon known as Xi_b^* confirms fundamental assumptions of physics regarding the binding of quarks. ... In the course of proton collisions in the LHC at CERN, physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguiló from the University of Zurich's Physics Institute managed to detect a baryon with one light and two heavy quarks. The particle Xi_b^* comprises one 'up,' one 'strange' and one 'bottom' quark (usb), is electrically neutral and has a spin of 3/2 (1.5). Its mass is comparable to that of a lithium atom. The new discovery means that two of the three baryons predicted in the usb composition by theory have now been observed."
An anonymous reader writes with this "interview with John R Hogerhuis, one of the key players in the still suprisingly active community for the TRS-80 Model 100 portable computer. As the Model 100 approaches its 30th birthday, John talks about what has kept the machine popular for so long, current software and hardware work that is keeping it relevant, and what modern developers could learn from spending some on a computer from 1983."
colinneagle writes "Microsoft's recent announcement that it will end support for the Windows XP operating system in two years signals the end of an era for the company, and potentially the beginning of a nightmare for everyone else. When Microsoft cuts the cord on XP in two years it will effectively leave millions of existing Windows-based computers vulnerable to continued and undeterred cyberattacks, many of which hold the potential to find their way into consumer, enterprise and even industrial systems running the latest software. Although most of the subsequent security issues appear to be at the consumer level, it may not be long until they find a way into corporate networks or industrial systems, says VMWare's Jason Miller. Even scarier, Qualsys's Amol Sarwate says many SCADA systems for industrial networks still run a modified version of XP, and are not in a position to upgrade. Because much of the software running on SCADA systems is not compatible with traditional Microsoft OS capabilities, an OS upgrade would entail much more work than it would for a home or corporate system."
bobwrit writes with this excerpt from CNN: "Conservative challenger Rick Santorum announced Tuesday that he is suspending his Republican presidential campaign after a weekend of 'prayer and thought,' effectively ceding the GOP nomination to front-runner Mitt Romney. Santorum made his announcement after the weekend hospitalization of his 3-year-old daughter Isabella, and in the face of tightening poll numbers in Pennsylvania — the state he represented as a U.S. senator — ahead of the April 24 primary. 'Ladies and gentlemen, we made the decision to get into this race around our kitchen table, against all the odds,' Santorum told a news conference, flanked by emotional family members. 'We made a decision over the weekend that while the presidential race for us is over, and I will suspend my campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.'"
JRiddell writes "Kubuntu, the KDE flavour from Ubuntu, has found a new sponsor in Blue Systems. They will be providing more resources than were available by previous sponsor Canonical. The project will remain much the same: community led, KDE focused, Ubuntu flavour. With the new independence it can branch out into new markets such as a Kubuntu Active flavour for tablets."
Lucas123 writes "While magnetic tape is about as boring as technology gets, it's still the cheapest storage medium and among the fastest in sequential reads and writes. And, with the release of LTO-6 with 8TB cartridges around the corner and the relatively new open linear tape file system (LTFS) being embraced by movie and television markets, tape is taking on a new life. It may even climb out of the dusty archives that cheap disk has relegated it to. 'Over the last two years, disk drives have gotten bigger, they've gone from 1TB to 3TB, but they haven't gotten faster. They're more like tape. Meanwhile, tape is going the other direction, it's getting faster,' said Mark Lemmons, CTO of Thought Equity Motion, a cloud storage service for the motion picture industry."
suraj.sun tips an article at AnandTech about a Blu-ray DRM scheme called Cinavia. The author makes the case that software like Cinavia is hastening the death of a Blu-ray industry already struggling to compete with online media streaming. Quoting: "In our opinion, it is the studios and the Blu-ray system manufacturers who have had the say in deciding upon the suitability of a particular DRM scheme. Consumers have had to put up with whatever has been thrust upon them. The rise in popularity of streaming services (such as Netflix and Vudu) which provide instant gratification should make the Blu-ray industry realize its follies. The only reason that streaming services haven't completely phased out Blu-rays is the fact that a majority of the consumers don't have a fast and reliable Internet connection. Once such connections become ubiquitous, most of the titles owned by consumers would probably end up being stored in the cloud. ... The addition of new licensing requirements such as Cinavia are preventing the natural downward price progression of Blu-ray related technology. Instead of spending time, money and effort on new DRM measures that get circumvented within a few days of release, the industry would do well to lower the launch price of Blu-rays. There is really no justification for the current media pricing."