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Comment Re:Big Data is not a substitute for Critical Think (Score 1) 69

The lack of thinking is somewhat appalling. I am a "data scientist". I came from one of the science fields that understands data, high energy particle physics. People are often surprised when I tell them that their fancy map-reduce tools are not particularly interesting when it comes to actually understanding your data. The tools are not interesting. Do you hear that "big data" conference organizers. Too little time is spent understanding what the data is telling and how do you know that it is telling you that and not something else.

Making sense of data takes knowledge and common sense. Qualifications I often find lacking in many of the job candidates I've interviewed. They know how to run the latest tool, but can't explain what the results mean when they get them.

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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: $1/meal/person? I thought that was a NORMAL food budget! 17

The Governor of Oregon and his wife have taken up The Food Stamp Challenge, a program for rich people here in Oregon to give them a taste (litterally) of how the other half lives. I think it's a good idea- but then I saw the budget: $42 for the week, or $1/person/meal. Well, I've got a 3 person family- and we try to stay under $60/week for our food, under $90 if you throw in food for t

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