The sun has a cycle of it's own (about 1 month). They did a much more accurate study and found the decay rate is tightly correlated to the sun's cycle.
The theory now is that it has to do with the neutrino flux. As we move further from the sun the flux goes down by 1/R^2. We saw that fluctuation first. But the neutrino flux also varies with the solar cycle which is independent of the earth's temperature.
This is very very cool experimental physics. Kudo's to them!
It's catalyzed fusion because the muon isn't used up, it is released to catalyze again. When they discovered this, people were really excited because the muon *does* live long enough to get past the break-even point even when you consider the energy used to create the muon in the first place. There was all kinds of talk of cold fusion (this was back in the 60s I think). The catch is about a 1% chance that the muon gets ejected in such a way from the fusion such that it can't catalyze the next one. That argument is a bit more subtle, but it is apparently what causes the whole thing to fall apart when talking about a net energy gain. It just takes more energy to produce a muon than ~100 fusing hydrogen atoms will provide.
24 lines? Uh, that is a T1. T1 is available everywhere, although it might get rather expensive in some places.
In general, a T1 seems to be much, much less latency than any DSL I have ever seen. A lot fewer routers in the way. End result is that a 1.5Mb T1 is a lot closer to 3Mb DSL, maybe 6Mb in some situations. Having had a business on DSL a couple of times but mostly on T1 connections this has proven itself several times.
I don't think feature parity means you can use MS office documents. Feature parity means you can do anything in open office that you can do in MS office.
You're right that I did mix feature sets with interoperability. Both are valid points. There are still lots of things you can do with MS Office that you can't in Open Office. I'll be honest and say I use both. I like OO for basic stuff like simple word documents at home. I don't use it at work because the features simply aren't there. Impress and calc are toys compared to MS Office.
The only thing OO has going for it is the price and multi-OS support. It's quickly becoming slow and bloated though.
Superfluid He is also wickedly cool. If you can build something to house it, and pump on it until it gets cold enough, you should be able to do some cool experiments with it.
Though not as visually appealing as a cloud chamber, building a detector to measure the lifetime of a muon was one of my favorite undergrad experiments. Three scientilators stacked on top of each other wired into a bunch of electronics, along with the right formulas, and you can get a reasonable measurement. My prof gave us a Phys Rev paper describing how it was done years ago, access to the parts we needed, a scope, and a computer that had a labview application set up for counting experiments. We figured out the electronic logic from the paper, used the scope to debug and set all the triggers correctly, then had to figure out how to actually calcuate the lifetime from what we measured (along with systematic + statistical errrors). Hard, yes, but man we learned a good deal about real nuts and bolts experimental physics that quarter.