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Tagged with “cern” (12)

  1. Hot from Spacefest - The Naked Scientists

    Last man on the Moon, Captain Gene Cernan, and Apollo 9 lunar module pilot Rusty Schweickart join Space Boffin Richard at Spacefest in Tucson, Arizona. Apollo 17 commander Cernan expresses his frustration about the state of the space programme and Rusty Schweickart warns of the asteroid threat to Earth. We also hear from astronomer Nick Howes, spaceblogger Emily Carney, Thomas Zurbuchen on how small satellites could be the future for big science missions and the going rates for astronaut autographs.

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  2. The poetry of programming | Linda Liukas | TEDxCERN

    Linda Liukas believes that a movement in technology is already happening and that we need to engage everyone — especially the next generation — to take part. She wants to create a more diverse and colourful world of technology, starting with the poetry of code.

    Linda Liukas is a programmer, storyteller and illustrator. Her children’s book, Hello Ruby, raised a total of $380,000 on Kickstarter. She founded Rails Girls, which has organized workshops in over 230 cities, teaching the basics of programming to more than 10,000 women. Linda worked at Codeacademy, which she left to write stories that teach children about software and programming. She won the 2013 Ruby Hero prize and was named the Digital Champion of Finland by the EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda.

    This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

    Original video:
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  3. The Last Man on the Moon - The Naked Scientists

    We look at the latest news from the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. Plus interviews with professional astronomers and the answers to your space science questions.

    In this special edition, the Last Man on the Moon, Gene Cernan, talks exclusively to Richard Hollingham about the final step, mortality and his disappointment about the way the space programme has developed.

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  4. Smashing Physics: how we discovered the Higgs boson - podcast | Science |

    This week Guardian science editor Ian Sample meets particle physicist Professor Jonathan Butterworth from University College London to talk about his new book Smashing Physics. It’s an insider’s account of one of the most momentous scientific breakthroughs of our times: the discovery of the Higgs boson announced in July 2012.

    Jon discusses what it’s like to work on the largest science experiment in history and why such ambitious – and costly – endeavours benefit us all.

    Next up, British Association media fellow Nishad Karim reports from the UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life. Be it life on Earth or life elsewhere in the universe, this symposium covered it all with a range of experts from cosmology and biology to meteorology, discussing some very big questions. Where did we come from? Did life begin on Earth or elsewhere? Are we alone?

    Nishad spoke to several of the presenters including Dr Zita Matins, an astrobiologist from Imperial College London, and Dr Dominic Papineau, a geochemist from UCL. Dr Martins is a specialist in finding organic material essential for life in meteorites, and Dr Papineau looks for old organic life a little closer to home, analysing Earth rocks.

    Other speakers included Dr Francisco Diego, a UCL cosmologist, who discussed the life of the universe itself from beginning to now, 13.8bn years later.

    And finally, Ian asks Guardian environment writer Karl Mathiesen whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record.

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  5. ‘Particle Fever’ Takes Viewers Inside the Large Hadron Collider | The Dinner Party Download

    Thousands of scientists from around the world have dedicated decades of their lives to a single project: building a machine that may be able to recreate the conditions of the moments following the Big Bang. The Large Hadron Collider is the single biggest, most expensive science experiment conducted, focusing on something very, very small – The Higgs-Boson Particle – and something as big as human understanding.

    “Particle Fever” is the acclaimed new documentary from Mark Levinson, a physics PhD himself, who left the science world to become a filmmaker. His dual background makes him well-suited to tell the dramatic stories that personalize what the scientists are doing at the Collider and explaining what it means for all of us.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s time for chattering class. This is the part of the show where we get schooled in a dinner party worthy topic. Today our subject is merely the origins of life itself and our expert is physicist turned director Mark Levinson.

    His new documentary is called “Particle Fever” and it’s about the search for sub-atomic matter, specifically the Higgs-Boson aka the “God Particle.” This little clue to the origins of the universe was first theorized by Peter Higgs back in 1965, and it lead to the creation of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.

    You know what Mark, you do such a good job of clarifying complex topics in this documentary. Maybe you can explain what the Collider is and how it works?

    Mark Levinson: Okay. So the Large Hadron Collider basically collides particles. It’s a 17 mile underground ring. It’s underneath Switzerland and France. It’s about 300 feet below the surface. In this tunnel, basically they are circulating beams of protons in opposite directions. So you accelerate these beams of proton in opposite directions at the speed of light and then you crash them together at four points. And at those four points are the experiments, the detectors, which is what we call the experiments. That’s where you’re looking at what comes out of these collisions.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: And tell me more about the Higgs-Boson and why it’s so important.

    Mark Levinson: We understand, at this point, that the universe is basically made up of particles and they have certain interactions. But at the beginning of the universe, the theory is that they didn’t have mass. They would have just been like light. There was no atom, nothing formed, because everything was just flying all over.

    What the Higgs Mechanism does is explains how just a fraction of a milli-milli-milli-second after the Big Bang this so-called Higgs Field turned on. And it allowed electrons and certain other things to get mass. And once they had mass then they could be trapped into atoms, and so you could start to get structure. You could get atoms and then of course molecules and then eventually galaxies and everything else.

    That theory essentially explains everything we see on earth. But we were missing this one central part of that theory.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: And so they built the Large Hadron Collider to figure that out. It took decades to build, involved thousands of scientists from all over the world.

    You’re there when it finally opens. So you knew you had a story there. However, theoretical physics is a long game. How did you know you were gonna have an ending? How did you know that you were gonna have a movie? Tell me a little bit about the premise.

    Mark Levinson: I was always looking for “How this is gonna be a dramatic story?” As it turns out, I just barely got it organized to get over in time for the first test, the first beam test, the first big milestone in 2008. We didn’t know if it would start up. Luckily it did.

    But then as it turns out, there was a huge explosion and there was a big accident just ten days after I started shooting. Of course I had to hang my head with the physicist because it was very depressing for them. But as a filmmaker I was thinking, “Yes!” But then, again, in classic screenwriting fashion, there ended up being other things that happened. False leads, and this and that.

    It became more complex. But if I actually scripted what happened, people would have thought I was just really including all sorts of artifice.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: So the trials and tribulations of the Hadron Collider are one source of tension in the movie. Another one is meeting these physicists who have spent their whole careers crafting theories which can be proven or disproven by one spin on this Collider. And it’s fascinating to think that one set of data could alter their entire careers.

    Mark Levinson: We wanted to focus on people whose lives really had something that was incredibly at risk with the Large Hadron Collider. People like Nima Arkani-Hamed who has been working in the field for 30 years. He has many theories but it depends on seeing something at the Large Hadron Collider that is new. For the experimentalists it’s a little bit different.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: Experimentalists are physicists who test theoretical physicists’ theories.

    Mark Levinson: They have been working on this but they’ve been very actively building the machine for 20 years or something like that. But the stakes are also tremendous because if you, for instance, you look at a young woman, she was a post-doc at the beginning of this film, Monica Dunford. She spends all of her life building a machine that doesn’t find anything. That’s pretty frustrating.

    Brendan Francis Newnam: So you ended the movie with the Stanford physicist Savas Dimopoulos saying, “Why do humans do science? Why do they do art? The things that are least important for survival are the very things that make us human.” Why did you end on that note?

    Mark Levinson: For me, I had make the transition myself from physics to art in a certain sense. And people always ask me, “How did you do that? It seems like this completely continuous thing.” But I actually saw similarities in the process. We are all trying to make sense of the world around us. We represent it in some sense and we try to interpret it and, by representing it, try to understand how it works and our place in it.

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  6. The Non-Breaking Space Show: Jeremy Keith

    The Non-Breaking Space Show is a podcast by Christopher Schmitt, Dave McFarland, Chris Enns interviewing the best and brightest of the web.

    Our talk with Jeremy runs the gamut of the web – progressive enhancement, depending on a database, sirens, the death of web services, the telegraph, transcriptions, CERN and preparing for a great talk.

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  7. Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider

    Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.

    But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care.

    One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.

    "I have some musician friends that I was talking to about physics, which I do a lot, if people will let me, and I was doing impersonations of particles — as you do — or maybe not," Lily Asquith says with a laugh. She is a physicist who until recently worked with the LHC at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

    Here’s How It Works

    The concept underlying the LHC Sound project is a principle called sonification — using data to make sound. At the most basic level, sonification correlates any physical property, such as a distance, speed or direction, to a sound property such as loudness, pitch or duration. On her blog, Lily Asquith explains how to make sound out of anything. The audio clip below is sonified data from the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Here’s how the sound was made: Enlarge image Lily Asquith/LHC Sound Listen To The Data playlist As a beam of particles is fired through the detector, three data points are collected and mapped to sound parameters: (1) The distance the particle travels away from the beam (dR in the diagram above) becomes the sound’s pitch, (2) the amount of energy a particle has correlates to volume, and (3) how far the particle travels becomes the timing of the notes. Asquith, like many physicists, spends a lot of time thinking about particles like the elusive Higgs boson — the subatomic particle that scientists say endows everything in the universe with mass. Proving the existence of the Higgs boson is one of the main goals of the collider.

    "You tend to personify things that you think about a lot," she says. She gives particles personalities, colors and sounds. "I think electrons, perhaps, sound like a glockenspiel to me."

    In the process of the search for the Higgs, the collider generates a massive amount of information — more than 40 million pieces of data every second. And that’s just from the ATLAS detector, one of the four main detectors in the deep underground complex that tunnels back and forth across the French-Swiss border.

    So Asquith was trying to figure out a new way to understand and sort through all of this data. The LHC currently produces colorful images as an output from the data — sprays of particles in different directions.

    "It’s quite easy to step from there, really, to consider that there could be some kind of sound associated with these things," she says.

    Making Sound From The Data

    She thought about a heart monitor in a hospital; it turns the electrical data from your heart into sound.

    "You don’t have to watch the monitor because you can hear it without making any effort," she says. "Just a steady beep — you can quite easily detect if it starts going quicker or if it stops even for a second."

    She wondered what would happen if she used music composition software to turn data from the collider into sound. So she fed in a sample of the LHC data — three columns of numbers.

    "So we’ll map, for example, the first column of numbers, which may be a distance, to time," Asquith says. "And we may map the second column of numbers to pitch, and the third, perhaps, to volume."

    What she got isn’t quite music, but sounds that are more out of this world — bells, beeps and clangs.

    Interpreting The Sounds

    Right now, Asquith says, the sounds don’t tell scientists very much. But she hopes that in the future, it could help them understand the data in new ways.

    Video: Colliding Particles This animation shows a collision between particles in the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Note: the video clip has no sound.

    Credit: ATLAS Experiment She says that in certain situations, it’s much easier to use your ears than your eyes, particularly with something that’s changing over time. Collider data do that.

    "You could certainly have an alarm system which told you when, for example, you have an event which looks ridiculous according to what you’ve expected," she says. "And that’s quite difficult to do using your eyes."

    But the project is doing something else — making what’s going on at the collider accessible and interesting to people without a Ph.D. That includes many of Lily’s friends who are musicians.

    They are really interested in — even fascinated by — what’s going on at the LHC. But she says they start to look frightened when she brings up the hard science.

    "I just think that’s unnecessary that it frightens people — it should be something that everyone should enjoy," she says.

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  8. Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider : NPR

    Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.

    But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care.

    One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

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