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Comment Re:Most HEP and astrophysics people use Mac (sorta (Score 1) 385

It is true that many use Mac and most others use Linux. There are a few who do use windows and the reason this works is because no one uses their laptop to do science. They use it for writing slides for the talks that they have to give every week to their collegues. Real work is done on a computing cluster. Any operating system which has ssh will work for HEP. I know I had a windows, linux and osx laptop at various points. It doesn't really matter that much because as I said you are going to do all of your real scientific work on the cluster at the lab. I always liked to have a small, light-weight laptop because it was less onerous to carry around the lab, to conferences and collaboration meetings. What you really want is battery life so that you can sit in the back of a boring meeting and write code on the cluster in your ssh terminal. I think I liked my macbook air best, but had a lenovo x200 as well that worked great because it seriously had ~10 hr battery life.

Just my two cents. Battery life was the most important feature because all real work took place on the cluster.

Comment Re:Number of photons? (Score 1) 263

Yes this is entirely the case. I would expect that the number of photons produced to fall off as a steeply falling power law. There will be vastly more UV photons than x-rays and vastly more x-rays than gammas. Until one gets to really high energies where the photon is showering and the shower is producing lots of additional ionizing particles, it is a good approximation that a single photon will damage only one atom or bond.

If there were a significant flux of x-rays that would already be pretty bad and it wouldn't really matter how many gammas were also there, because the x-rays are already ionizing radiation and they could possibly significantly elevate risks for affected persons. So while a single gamma might not be devastating, if that were accompanied by a large flux of x-rays, bad things would still happen.

Comment Re:No Dosometers on Board (Score 1) 263

I'm sorry but that is untrue. The film badge is effective for measuring doses from x-ray sources, used in medical and dental offices and research labs of all types. If there are lots of x-ray and gamma ray photons produced in the dark lightning then the film badge will provide an accurate measure of the dose. The number density of the produced products will likely fall in energy as a power law and so you would have tremendously more x-rays where you have good measurement than the number of gammas where you have more energy. What is more if the photons have an energy that is a good deal larger than 1 MeV then there is a very non negligible chance that they will pair convert in the air and then you have electrons for which as you point out the film badge works very well. The bulk of the dose is most likely to be at an energy where standard and common dosimeters are well suited to measure it.

Comment Re:No Dosometers on Board (Score 5, Interesting) 263

There are dosimeters on board. I have completed several radiation safety courses during my work and radiation levels for airline crew are monitored and tracked just like they are for workers in nuclear and other research fields. Frequent fliers are not monitored and tracked. I work at CERN and I know exactly how much ionizing and neutron dose I receive during my work, but I also have to travel between my home at Fermilab and CERN and I have no idea how much dose I receive on my trans-Atlantic flights. The pilot of the plane is monitored and his dose is tracked. That pilot should also have access to his personal dose, but I don't know what the level of transparency is in the airline industry. So if there were a significant likelihood, the data is there.

Speaking from a physics point of view, a huge acceleration is need to produce x-ray and gamma rays. And they aren't hard to detect. It would seem that a balloon experiment flying some CsI or other crystals in some thunderstorms would quickly detect this phenomena even if it is 1/1000 or even 1/10000.

Comment Fund education and it will improve (Score 1) 479

If you want better education, then you need to have it be a funding priority. Right now it is a talking point priority, but when it comes to putting real money into education it will usually lose out to inmates in prison. When the states fall on hard times, education always suffers. When times are good schools are the last thing that gets in on it. Becoming a teacher is not the path to fame, fortune and wealth. Typically becoming an educator means sacrifice.

There is the saying:
Those who can do; those who can't teach.

That is part of the problem with education. If you want people who know what they are about you will have to pay for it.

If teaching could compete in the marketplace for top talent, maybe they wouldn't get the brightest because I don't think education is ever going to pay "that" well. But they could get and retain kind, competent and knowledgeable educators who know their stuff and have the respect of parents and the community. That would go a lot farther than any computer software of fancy electronics.

Comment Let's set the record straight (Score 2) 180

Let's get things straightened out. About a month ago the CDF experiment at the Tevatron at Fermilab found a "bump" in their data. It was statistically significant and was unexplained. This "bump" cannot be the Higgs boson from The Standard Model because it has the completely wrong cross-section. This was a fully public result from the CDF experiment.

About the same time there was a "leaked" abstract from an internal note from the ATLAS experiment at the LHC which claimed to have a signal for a Higgs boson. This was never a public or published result.

Now today we have an announcement from the D0 experiment at the Tevatron that they looked into the CDF bump and see nothing. This isn't a set back for the Higgs since it was never about the Higgs. The ATLAS leaked abstract has never been confirmed even by ATLAS so lets not get our underpants in a knot. Lets also not conflate the two since they don't have anything to do with each other.


Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys 278

dcollins writes "Researchers at Denison University in Ohio have shown that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills. Quoting: 'The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not ... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling.'"

Gamma Ray Mystery Reestablished By Fermi Telescope 95

eldavojohn writes "New observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope reveal that our assumptions about the 'fog' of gamma rays in our universe are not entirely explained by black hole-powered jets emanating from active galaxies — as we previously hypothesized. For now, the researchers are representing the source of unaccounted gamma rays with a dragon (as in 'here be') symbol. A researcher explained that they are certain about this, given Fermi's observations: 'Active galaxies can explain less than 30 percent of the extragalactic gamma-ray background Fermi sees. That leaves a lot of room for scientific discovery as we puzzle out what else may be responsible.' And so we reopen the chapter on background gamma-rays in the science textbooks and hope this eventually sheds even more light on other mysteries of space — like star formation and dark matter."

Comment Re:Thinkpad (Lenovo) sucks my ass (Score 2, Interesting) 291

I have an x200 and I absolutely love it. My previous laptop was an HP which got ~2.5 hours when it was brand new but was down to about 10 minutes after a year. My x200 gets about 10 hours of battery life with the wireless on. I have the solid state drive and the large battery. I use it all day in meetings for work without plugging it in. Granted its new right now, it's an portable type laptop while my HP wasn't so the comparison isn't completely fair, but I'm hoping that the battery keeps it up.


Stimulus Avoids Serious Solutions For Health IT 184

ivaldes3 writes in to note his post up on Linux Medical News, pointing out the severe shortcomings of the Health IT provisions of the just-passed stimulus bill. "The government has authorized enough money to purchase EMR freedom for the nation. Instead the government appears set to double down on proprietary lock-down. The government currently appears poised to purchase serfdom instead of freedom and performance for patients, practitioners and the nation. An intellectual and financial servitude to proprietary EMR companies for little or no gain. A truly bad bargain."

Doctors Silencing Online Patient Reviews Via Contract 324

Condiment writes "Next time you're sick, take five and actually read the pile of contracts your doctor dumps on your lap, because it's becoming more and more likely that your doctors are banning patients from posting reviews on the Web. You heard that right: as a prerequisite to receiving medical care, patients are in many cases required to sign away their First Amendment rights!"
The Courts

Utah Trying To Restrict Keyword Advertising ... Again 257

Eric Goldman writes "The Utah legislature has tried to restrict keyword advertising twice before, with disastrous results. In 2004, Utah tried to ban keyword advertising in adware; that law was declared unconstitutional. In 2007, Utah tried to regulate competitive keyword advertising; after a firestorm of protests, Utah repealed the law in 2008. Despite this track record, Utah is trying to regulate keyword advertising a third time. HB 450 would allow trademark owners to block competitors from displaying certain types of keyword ads. In practice, this law is just another attempt by the Utah legislature to enact a law that doesn't help consumers at all but does help trademark owners suppress their online competition."

Comment Re:Other People Engage in Risky Financial Practice (Score 1) 729

I couldn't agree more.

I'm not so naive that I think it isn't going to affect me. If we let the markets work it out then it will affect me. I will have a hard time buying (not be able to buy) a home for many more years. The job market will dry up just as I am graduating. It will be tough. However I still think that the government should leave it all alone. They are welcome to try to stimulate the economy by spending money on things that the government ought to like infrastructure, education, etc, but they should stay out of the private financial markets. If it hits the regular people like myself hard then so be it. I think things will work their way out in the end.

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.