Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last night's Colbert Report

I don't know if you have ever watched Comedy Central's Colbert Report, but this show (along with the Daily Show with Jon Stewart) have generally occupied my time from 11:00 p.m. till midnight for quite a while now. For my money, these are two of the best shows on TV. And speaking of paying for TV... that reminds me of when I was living in England in the early 1980's. Did you know that TV's in England at that time actually had coin slots on the back? You would drop a couple pounds in and get so many hours of TV in return. Some goverment chap would then stop by your house now and then to collect the money from the back of your TV. Weird Huh?

Anyway....back to the topic. The guest on last night's Colbert Report was especially interesting. He is a physicist from England named Brian Cox and has co-authored a book entitled "Why does E=MC squared? And why should we care?" I have put this book on my reading list on the strength of this guy's performance. He was quite a character. I had heard previously about this gigantic "Hadron Super Collider" in Switzerland. Its the worlds largest and highest energy particle accelerator. This machine, 17 miles in circumference, is designed to send particles smashing into each other at astronomical rates of speed. One of it's many functions to search for the elusive Higgs-Boson particle. This is the so called "God Particle" as it is supposed to be the animating force of the universe. When they were getting ready to start the machine up for the first time last September some were concerned that it could accidentally create a black hole and suck our whole planet down the tubes. As far as I have heard this has not happened yet. Correct me if I am wrong on this please.

Anyway, last night I learned the collider has been experiencing some bizarre malfunctions which has led two prominent physicists (Cox not being one of them) to posit the theory that the accelerator is being sabotaged from the future. Get that? It has (or will have) have created something so awlful that at some future point something or someone will be sent back in time to stop it. Let this idea swirl around your brain for while....


Another thing I learned was that if I had no mass I could travel at the speed of light.

Can't wait!


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Higgs boson,Peter Higgs actually referred to it as That Goddamn Particle, since it was and is so elusive. As far as that particle Reaching into the past, I think I remember Masao Ninomiya on NPR news or somesuch, I'm pretty sure he's doing this tongue-in-cheek, but we'll see. My guess is that if and when the Higgs boson is quantified, it will expose 10 more unanswered questions. As far as the black hole thing, I wouldn't loose any sleep over it, all of the scientists I know of dismiss this out-of-hand. Finally, given that you are not a massless particle, you can still approach the speed of light and experience time dilation, space contraction (Lorentz transformation), and a mass increase. Of course given your age, you may be experiencing the last one anyway.

P.S. Don't think you can butter me up everytime just to get a post on your site.

ML1959 said...

I went to relativity calculator and quickly realized I am actually quite stupid. Thanks for link.

Anonymous said...

I see that my link wasn't very good. The link was obviously created by an engineer not a physicist, way too many decimal places. The explanations aren't very good either.

Albert Einstein famously used thought experiments to work out his theory of special relativity. I don't know the book you heard about on the Colbert Report, but I bet it has some good examples. There was a Nova series on PBS that explained it well too.

Anonymous said...

Full Disclosure - I used Google/Wikipedia extensively in my original post, I knew where I was going, but needed help, specifically:
- I looked up the Goddamn Particle article. Didn't know that was the origin, but was pretty sure that most of the researchers didn't start by calling it the "God particle"
- Looked up Masao's name. I just remembered him as the Japanese researcher on the radio.
- I knew about time dilation (had to use spellchek for dilation) space contraction and mass increase from studying Modern Physics in college, and in readings since. I looked up the calculator.

I hope you still respect me.

Anonymous said...

By the way, although the Swearing Chef finds Peter Higgs vulgar reference quite pleasing to the ear, he also finds the sub-atomic world quite wonderous, and considers them all God's particles.

Anonymous said...

One last confession, I can never remember HTML tags for creating hyperlinks, so I always have to Google that too... ;-)

ML1959 said...

Regarding your extensive use of search engines: This is no shame. Because, lets face it, if you do not have the right questions a search is often of little use anyway. And...(the buttering continues)if you have a bunch of facts but cannot write a cogent paragraph, what use is that?