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Comment: Re:Again (Score 4, Interesting) 63

by stevelinton (#49411081) Attached to: Restart of Large Hadron Collider At CERN

I'm very familiar with the scientific model, which is why they are running experiments at the LHC rather than just announcing supersymmetry as fact.

However, the scientific model doesn't tell you what experiments to run, or what theories to form or test. Scientists have to decide what they think "needs" an explanation, then they can look around for an explanation which fits the existing data and devise experiments to acquire new data to test it. If the new data fits the theory well enough the theory becomes part of our model of the universe, which is now a little more complete and precise. If it doesn't they try again. The last part is what is usually called "scientific method" but it doesn't help you decide what to try and explain, or which explanations to test first.

In this case, physicists, backed by decades of experience have identified the low mass of the Higgs boson (relative to the Planck mass, as it happens) as the kind of thing that might be expected to have an explanation (beyond just "that's how the universe is") so they have looked around for such an explanation. There are a few competing ones, of which supersymmetry is the best worked out. Actually supersymmetry is not just one theory, it has many variations, The new LHC run may support or exclude some or all of these.

Comment: Re:Again (Score 3, Informative) 63

by stevelinton (#49410487) Attached to: Restart of Large Hadron Collider At CERN

Wat do u mean unaesthetic.

Pretty much what it says. The theory that relates all the existing particles ("The standard model") doesn't predict a mass for the Higgs boson, it's a number you have to measure and put into the theory. The theory does suggest limits -- it can't be less than zero or more than about a million million million times what it is. So it's a bit like finding something that could in principle be anywhere on a line from New York to San Fransisco but happens to be less than one atomic diameter from the New York end of the line. It could be chance but it doesn't feel right. That "not feeling right" is what I mean by unaesthetic.

Experience in physics is that things that "don't feel right' in this way usually hint at a deeper explanation which we don't understand. This one might not, but it seems worth looking.

Comment: Re:Again (Score 5, Informative) 63

by stevelinton (#49409877) Attached to: Restart of Large Hadron Collider At CERN

One goal is to better understand the properties of the HIggs boson by making lot more of them. This will surely happen. There are a bunch of similar things where they just want more data to get details of something already discovered.

After that, the biggest target is supersymmetry. This is a purely theoretical notion (at present) which would offer a nice explanation for one of the major mysteries of current particle physics -- why particles like the Higgs are as light as they are. At the moment we have a bunch of equally "natural" theories in which Higgs masses range from little or nothing to massively more than they are now. Hitting a value this close to zero by chance is unaesthetic and experience suggests that when something like this happens there is usually a deeper explanation. Supersymmetry is a candidate for such an explanation.It would predict a whole slew of new particles, the lightest of which might be stable and might be within reach of the new LHC. They also might make up some or all of the "dark matter" which seems to make up most of the Universe.

The dark matter is also a target in its own right. Even if it isn't made of supersymmetry particles, it might be made of some other kind of particle light enough for the LHC to make some.

Then there are more exotic conjectures around like extra dimensions and dark energy particles wjich might show up.

Comment: Re:A few fairly obvious things (Score 1) 160

by stevelinton (#49335161) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

You are right that the no moving parts thing is speculation, but it's what I'd do. Several people have worried about disk failures and such like as a concern with the idea, and noise would also be a concern.

Regarding cabling, yes, you are right. In densely populated areas of the Netherlands there is probably fibre to the apartment building already, but they might have a low-networking workload in mind.

Comment: Re:But (Score 1) 69

by stevelinton (#49331233) Attached to: Jupiter Destroyed 'Super-Earths' In Our Early Solar System

Simulations suggest that it is very sensitive to exactly where the gas giants form and the density of different parts of the dust cloud. Small changes in initial conditions mean that they may head in and stay there -- hot Jupiters; never head in at all -- hot super-Earths; or do what ours did and dive in and then out.

Comment: A few fairly obvious things (Score 4, Insightful) 160

by stevelinton (#49331055) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

1. Thermodynamics: if you need to convert electricity to heat for any purpose you can get computation out for free. Electricity is very low entropy, low-grade heat over a large area very high, you can have the difference as useful computation

2. The article makes clear these are compute servers, not data servers or web servers. They may well be bitcoin mining, or running large-scale compute jobs for universities or the local met office or rendering a movie or ... In any event you expect a proportion of the servers in any job to fail. When you think they may have failed you restart the tasks they were doing somewhere else. Most of these tasks do not need much security either. There is little to gain by stealing or changing the predicted air pressure in a 100x100x10km block of air over Belgium next Thursday.

3. They are surely custom servers, not standard racks -- no moving parts. SSD for boot, application data over the net and a fanless design. They can be totlally sealed units entirely immune to junior's orange juice. Use mainly nonstandard form factors and they become basically unsellable reducing the theft problem and getting round some more security issues.

3. The article says that the supplier supplies power. Whatever cable they use for that can easily have a fibre built in for data.

4. Since this is cloud compute, it doesn't matter much if it gets turned off on rare hot days in the Netherlands, but if you care, pay the owner to open a window instead.

Comment: Re:Help me out here (Score 5, Informative) 88

by stevelinton (#49155623) Attached to: Mysterious Siberian Crater Is Just One of Many

I think the idea is this:
You have a large volume of clathrates underneath ice or frozen soil.
As things warm, they start to break down and a reservoir of methane gas builds up
at high pressure.
Eventually the pressure reaches the point where it can push aside or lift up or whatever the ice at its weakest point
and it finds a route to the surface.

Now you have a LOT of gas rushing through some kind of hole, a little bit like an oil well blowout and the gas flow erodes the sides of the hole and throws soil or ice into the air and generally starts to make a crater.

Furthermore the escape of all this gas lowers the pressure down where the clathrates are quite suddenly, so the breakdown accelerated greatly, providing still more gas to ruch up through the hole.

So not really an explosion, perhaps more like a blowout, but still fairly violent simply because of the amount of gas and the pressure.

At no point does it combust.

Comment: Re:Help me out here (Score 5, Informative) 88

by stevelinton (#49155269) Attached to: Mysterious Siberian Crater Is Just One of Many

You need to find out about methane clathrates. They are very roughly a chemical compound of methane and water which is solid and stable at low temperatures and moderately high pressures (as found under a few hundred meters of water or ice, for instance. When they get a bit too warm, or the pressure drops a bit they turn back into methane gas and water. One cubic meter of clathrate released almost 200 cubic meters of methane gas, which then has to go somewhere producing something like an explosion. At no point did the methane burn (it was nowhere near any free oxygen until it got to the surface, it was just a gas pressure explosion.

Comment: Re:Jump That Gun (Score 3, Informative) 102

by stevelinton (#49083301) Attached to: Supermassive Diet: Black Holes Bulk-Up On Dark Matter

Know is a tricky word, but there is plenty of evidence that most of the dark matter is not baryonic. The proportions of light elements formed at the end of the big bang gives a contstaint on the baryon density of the universe at the time, as do the ripples in the cosmic microwave background (which reveal the balance between radiation pressure and gravity in the early universe and tell us that most of the mass did not interact with photons at all). The bullet cluster is another piece of evidence. The stars in the colliding galaxies interacted with one another and with dust and merged into one bigger galaxy, but something, detectable by its gravitational lensing of galaxies beyond it, went straight through. It's hard to see how brown dwarves would have done that.

Comment: Re:Solution to Global Warming (Score 2) 75

As I recall the best choice for a low-mass sunshield is a grid of fine conductive wires about 100nm or so apart in both directions. This forms a Faraday cage at optical frequencies. There's a complicated tradeoff between what you make the wires out of, how much is reflected and how much absorbed and how fine you can make the wires without them melting. I'm not sure what the winner is for this application, but the area density of such a material can be less than that of a carbon monolayer, since it's mostly holes, just holes too small for light to get through.

You can probably keep it on station without rockets by opening and closing flaps in the sail to manage light and solar wind pressure, although the control processing might be pretty severe.

You can use similar techniques to terraform Venus and Mars -- for Mars you make the "shield" into a Fresnel lens that actually concentrates sunlight.

"Joy is wealth and love is the legal tender of the soul." -- Robert G. Ingersoll