Saturday, August 8, 2009

LHC At 50%: Race For Higgs Boson

The Register report on how CERN are planning on firing up the LHC at half power so that they can continue the search for the ¨God Particle¨. The LHC was shutdown when a cooling element failed and replacing some components may mean the system remains offline until next year. Considering there is a race going on with the Americans and their Tevatron, CERN have decided to fire her up as soon as possible. Isn´t that a little dangerous with a broken machine that will probably generate black holes? 2012 here we come...

Torched ´Nads

Don´t mess with Crete women the BBC reports. The recently updated post doesn´t mention the earlier report that the British lout on holiday was flashing his bits but that he did allegedly cop a feel of a student. A glass of strong drink got poured over him and somewhere along the line got ignited, sending him to a clinic with second degree burns. Again the earlier report seemed to indicate it was his privates that got the torching and The Telegraph, The Sun and Sky News all do. No matter what the parents say (who quite obviously were not there), I am quite frankly embarrassed by the behaviour of some Brits, so the story does not surprise me in the least. But I have to laugh at two things. In the See Also panel of the BBC page is the headline: Minister Warns Of Holiday Risks. The second one is the guy´s name: Stuart Feltham.

Feel The Hologram! reports on how the Japanese have taken an ultrasound system and some Wii remotes to create a tactile holographic display. During a demonstration at SIGGRAPH 2009 it was shown how it was people to feel falling drops of water shown on the display.

Hoover Dam Concrete Bridge

The BBC reports on a new concrete arch bridge is being built a quarter of a mile from the Hoover Dam to take traffic between Las Vegas and Phoenix, relieving pressure on the road over the dam itself, which is considered unsafe. Once finished the Colorado River Bridge will be one of the largest concrete arch bridges in the world.

Ronnie Biggs Released On Compassionate Grounds

The BBC reports on how Great Train robber Ronnie Biggs has been released on compassionate grounds. He is suffering from pneumonia and can only eat from a tube. How his sone can say he served his term I don´t know. He escape prison, lived a life of luxury in Brazil for years and only when his money ran out and he needed medical treatment did he come crawling back to the UK, so that taxpayers money could plaster him back up again. I have to agree with Keith Norman, secretary of the train drivers union, about the fact that train driver Jack Mills, who died 7 years afterwards having never fully recovered from being attacked, seems forgotten in all of this. Jack Mill´s grandson quite rightly says that Biggs should have been left to rot in jail. As far as I´m concerned Biggs is a f´ing leach. I hope the bastard suffers to the very end.

Rooks Use Tools The Return: More From The Clever Corvids

A previous blog post about how rooks are capable of using tools to get to food has a follow up. In the previous experiment the birds fashioned hooks out of wire to pull up a tray containing food. The latest adventures show that they understand the displacement of water and use stones to get a drink, even so far as to realise that larger stones will displace more water and so get the drink faster. Aesop's fable about the crows using stones may have been based on fact after all suggests the BBC.

DDOS Hits Twitter And Facebook

The BBC reports on a denial of service attack that affected Twitter and Facebook this week. Twitter was knocked out for a time and Facebook was slowed down. A Georgian blogger who writes about the struggle between Russia and Georgia claimed that he was the target after posting. The question is whether Russian authorities really were behind the attack or is this just an opportunity to draw attention to the conflict?

Murdoch´s News Corp. To Start Charging For Online News

Falling advertising revenue have led to Rupert Murdoch proposing a pay for what you read model for online news, say the BBC. However, falling advertising might mean that there are fewer people reading or that the readers you are attracting don´t respond to advertising. Does he really think that people are going to start paying for something when fewer people might actually be reading it? Interesting to see if this will result in increased traffic for competing online rags.

RIP: Koala Sam Rescued From Bushfires Dies of Chlamydia

A koala that was rescued by firefighters earlier this year while setting up fire breakers has died during surgery for cysts caused by chlamydia, according to the BBC. The disease is apparently common in koalas and surgery was required otherwise the animal would not have survived. RIP Sam.

values of β will give rise to dom!

Some lovely anecdotes from Dennis Ritchie about Unix development during his time at Bell Labs here.

Microsoft Recognise Canonical and RedHat As Rivals

Redmond have finally admitted that they have some competition from Linux and specifically from RedHat and Ubuntu. This is probably as a result of improvements in the Linux desktop experience and the ease of use that Ubuntu provides. Though RedHat have been around a while and offer a very secure enterprise server platform. Google has not been mentioned as an OS competitor, though we have yet to see exactly what they have up their sleeve.

Million Member Botnet

The Sandia National Laboratories have created a botnet containing a million elements that they intend to use to simulate the effects of DDOS attacks and other nasty cyber stuff. Nice to see supercomputers being applied to something more useful than thermonuclear destruction.

Apocalypse: Beasts With Two Heads

Rather worryingly I have read twice this week about creatures being born with two heads. Once here about a calf with two heads in Flamisoul , Belgium and another here about a baby in the Philippines with the same thing. I don´t hear any Nostradamus followers crying it´s the end of the world though.

YouTube Takedowns

You have to praise YouTube for doing their bit in removing copyrighted or terms of use violating materials, but for Calvin Harris it went a bit too far. Ars Technica reports on how Calvin had posted some stuff on YouTube himself, but that the British Phonographic Industry (UK equivalent of the RIAA) sent a takedown notice to YouTube to remove the material because of copyright violation. Calvin was obviously miffed; I love that Twitter post!

Killer Robot 50 Years Away

One of Harry Harrison´s stories War with the Robots predicted a future battlefield scenario, when both human sides retreated from a battle, leaving their robotic fighting machines in automatic. Each side never realised this until the commanders encountered each other during their retreat. Well now it seems robotic killers are being seriously considered, regardless of The Terminator say the BBC, who report that a debate has been called on the matter. The problem is robots do what they are told so any element of last minute human judegement that may avoid confrontations or potential mistakes goes out the window. The recent drone activity in Afghanistan/Pakistan and even the countless indicents of American friendly fire show that even our own soldiers sometimes can´t tell what the enemy is. Deploying robot death machines in a civilian area would be disastrous.

Apples Hot Deals

Seems like there are some serious issues with exploding iPods and incendiary iPhones. It is hard to tell how isolated these incidents are and whether a product recall is on the cards, but when I read this article from The Times online about a father who was told he would only be refunded if he did not tell the press, that was too much. I remember similar stories of people having trouble with Apple when it came to broken Macbooks, so this isn´t something new from Apple. Although their software may be well designed, their customer service needs a serious brush up.

Oldest Portable Clockwork Computer Even Older

The Greek Antikythera clockwork computer that modeled the motion of planets and predicted the times of Olympic games may be older than thought. New Scientist reports on how the device may be as old as 200 BC because it includes references to minor games that would not have been included on the calendar during the Roman period. I think it´s a wonderful piece of technology and another indication of how much knowledge may have been lost from that period before rediscovered in the latter half of the last millennium.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Exploding Power Cable

For a very short period my girlfriend´s home town was on the news, after an underground electricity cable exploded, leaving a 15 centimeter wide hole in the ground. The incident happened across the road from where Andrea´s father lives, under one of his neighbours front gardens and there was apparently a loud bang followed by a plume of smoke. The cable was probably disturbed by recent activity from workmen who are laying glass fibre cables for digital television.