Monday, 30 November 2009


Large Hadron Collider sets world energy record (BBC) by accelerating a beam of protons to 1 trillion electron volts. Theoretically at least the LHC could produce a Higgs Boson even at this energy (Higgs is thought to be around 170Gev according to theTevatron experiments) though you need more than 1Tev to get enough energy into the collisions in the first place. However the real experiments don't start until June 2010 (at the time of writing) and we don't as yet have a real idea other than simulations about what particles and particle decays we're going to see at >1Tev collision energies, so the first part of the work will be to research what kinds of decay signatures will be produced and then start analysing those patterns.

From CERN's Glossary Pages

Electronvolt (eV)
A unit of energy or mass used in particle physics. One eV is extremely small, and units of a million electronvolts, MeV, or thousand million electronvolts, GeV, are more common. The latest generation of particle accelerators reaches up to several million million electronvolts, TeV. One TeV is about the energy of motion of a flying mosquito.

For persons worrying about the LHC's safety keep checking this page to find out if the LHC has destroyed the planet. Just in case that page is wrong you can also check here as well.  If they both agree then the LHC has destroyed the planet.

Where's the data?

With the Copenhagen Climate Summit around the corner and more and more alarmist predictions ... it seems like the World is going to heat up faster and faster every week ... there seems to be a problem with the data that this is all built upon...its missing.

Apart from that, any simulation is only as good as the data put in, the algorithms that work upon it and the final interpretation of the results - simulating complex systems such as software is almost impossible, climate on the other hand is many magnitudes more complex again. And without the original data nor access to the simulations and their parameters I get awfully worried about the quality of the results and whether those results actually mean anything at all.

But then there's the very troubling question of why was the original data lost? Ok, it could really be because it was old and not considered worthy of keeping. In which case why does this old, presumably reconstructed (how?!) get used in making predictions?

These emails are deeply troublsome

Finally, if this is interpreted as being against the "proof" of Global Warming, sorry, climate change, then in all of these matters (and one of the fundamental tenets of science) is to be skeptical. If the proof and data stand up to a detailed review and all the questions a skeptic can ask then the data and proof will be accepted, if not....?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Historical Moment: First collisions at the LHC

A press release from CERN:

 Two circulating beams bring first collisions in the LHC

Screens showing two circulating beams at the LHC
Screens showing two beams in the LHC
Geneva, 23 November 2009. Today the LHC circulated two beams simultaneously for the first time, allowing the operators to test the synchronization of the beams and giving the experiments their first chance to look for proton-proton collisions. With just one bunch of particles circulating in each direction, the beams can be made to cross in up to two places in the ring. From early in the afternoon, the beams were made to cross at points 1 and 5, home to the ATLAS and CMS detectors, both of which were on the look out for collisions. Later, beams crossed at points 2 and 8, ALICE and LHCb.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


People ask me what I've been doing for the past few years, apart from "inventing the future" we've been researching and building a platform or infrastructure - known as Smart-M3* - for integrating, collecting, distributing and sharing information. Such a platform allows a user to integrate all their data and link it together in interesting ways and have it available to all their devices from PCs to mobile phones right down to sensors and other embedded devices.

We build on top of technologies such as RDF and the whole idea of Semantic Web within a "space-based" computing environment.

Click here for the Wikipedia article on Smart-M3 which also contains links to the academic articles etc, and the open source code for the core of the system can be found from Sourceforge.

*Smart-M3 has gone by a number of names an in some papers it is known as Sedvice or just M3.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nokia N900, Maemo 5 & PySide

Just a few notes on installing PySide for Maemo5 on the Nokia N900.

Firstly, go to PySide's download pages and note down the locations of the repsitory whichi needs to be either entered in using Maemo's application manager or by editing the sources.list. The repository is:
deb /
If you decided to do this the hard (or easier) way then ssh into the device from something with a real keyboard to make like easier first. Switch to root as using the root command and then cd /etc/apt.  You'll find sources.list there, however on mine this is empty and has file size of 0. The file I needed to edit was in the sources.list.d directory and called  hildon-application-manager.list.   Back-up this file  first (usual caveat about being root!) then edit it using vi (not emacs!) and add the above repsitory address to it.

Save that file, cd to some safe place :-) thne run:
apt-get update 
If all goes well then DO NOT run apt-get install pyside-gui otherwise you'll get errors from trying to run a Qt app in python. You need to enter the following. 
apt-get install pyside-qt4-gui 
If you, like me, got dependency errors for libboost-python, pyside-core and pyside-base, then the following worked for me: Add  
deb fremantle free non-free 
to the hildon-application-manager-list or sources.list as you see fit. Re run apt-get update and then install pyside-qt4-gui as described above.

You can then get the PySide examples and the source tree on-line with option for download as a tar.gz file.


3D Mandelbrot Sets (?)

Found via Slashdot, but here you can find some fantastic pictures of "3D" verisons of the mandelbrot set. For example the one below (which to me looks startlingly like a spine):

Other pictures on the aforementioned site look like viruses, bone structures or just plain whatever ...

For even more wierdness check out these postings on the 3D Julia Set.

Friday, 13 November 2009

W3C Provenance Incubator Group

From the charter:

The provenance of information is crucial to making determinations about whether information is trusted, how to integrate diverse information sources, and how to give credit to originators when reusing information.  Broadly construed, provenance encompasses the initial sources of information used as well as any entity and process involved in producing a result.  In an open and inclusive environment such as the Web, users find information that is often contradictory or questionable.  People make trust judgements based on provenance that may or may not be explicitly offered to them.  Reasoners in the Semantic Web will need explicit representations of provenance information in order to make trust judgements about the information they use.  With the arrival of massive amounts of Semantic Web data (eg, via the Linked Open Data community) information about the origin of that data, ie, provenance, becomes an important factor in developing new Semantic Web applications. Therefore, a crucial enabler of the Semantic Web deployment is the explicit representation of provenance information that is accessible to machines, not just to humans.

An Explanation of Computation Theory for Lawyers

Fantastic article from Groklaw (of SCO vs reality fame) about computation theory and how it applies to (US) patent law.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Running a nation...

Sounds easy and at first it is, then it gets more and more difficult. The site NationStates allows a player to explore the kinds of questions and issues a government might encounter.

Create a couple of "countries" and explore how they behave under various conditions: make the choices in one according to your own morals, another according to your idea of far-left and another according to your idea of far-right principles...currently, I seem to be a centrist democrat...vive la libertie, now I'll send in the tanks I think... :-)

The FAQ is here ... some interesting entries from it are reproduced below:

>How do I play?

Click on the Create a Nation link and follow it from there. You'll be asked to choose a name for your nation, a motto, a national animal, and a currency. Then you answer a short questionnaire about your politics. This will determine what sort of nation you end up with: authoritarian or permissive... left-wing or right-wing... compassionate or psychotic... you get the idea.
Once a day, you'll be faced with an issue, and need to make a decision as to what to do about it. This determines how your nation evolves.

>So what is this?

Jennifer Government: NationStates is a nation simulation game. You create your own country, fashioned after your own ideals, and care for its people. Either that or you deliberately torture them. It's really up to you.

>Is it a serious political thing, or just for fun? 

Well, you can play it either way. NationStates does have humorous bent, but that's just because international politics is so inherently funny.

>Why is my nation so weird?

Everything is exaggerated a little. Well, okay, a lot. Your decisions affect your nation very strongly, so your country might seem like a more extreme version of what you were aiming for. Unless you have radical politics. In which case you probably think nothing's wrong.

>My decision had unintended consequences!

Yep, that'll happen. For one thing, see "Why is my nation so weird?" above. For another, pretty much every decision you make will involve a trade-off of some kind. It's kind of an exercise in choosing the best of a bunch of bad options. You might find this frustrating, especially if you're the kind of person who thinks the solutions to all the world's problems are obvious.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Helsinki Metro - Disaster or Advertisment?

A major break in a water pipe flooded part of the Helsinki Metro at the Rautatientori metro station last night.

A wonderful photograph has appeared on the MTV3 Uutiset website of the situation at the platform level, it possibly describes what has actually happened.

(C)MTV3 Finland

The picture shows the escalators leading to the main railway station from the metro station platforms. On the floor is an advertisment for the film 2012 - one of the post 9/11, Global-Warming, Flu-panic genre modern disaster films...the text reads:     "KOE LOPUN ALKU"    - "experience the beginning of the end". The picture in the advertisment shows a statue being overwhelmed by a great flood....

...the irony!!

Now YLE Uutiset is running a story Helsingin aseman Kompassitorin halkeamista sortumavaara - Helsinki Station's Kompassitori Collapse Danger.

So...given a couple of days we're going to have the metro station and part of central Helsinki disappearing into a big hole (there'll be much celebration on the streets of Nikkilä, Östersundom and Södekulla !) and Helsinki finally will get two metro lines...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Sentinelese

The Sentinelese are a very rare kind of people in that they have almost no contact with the outside World. Very little is known about these people: almost nothing about their language, culuture, rituals etc - that what do know is so utterly sparse and incomplete renders that worthless in anything other than mere guesswork.

Wikipiedia has an article about the Sentinelese and in the article The Last Island of the Savages by Adam Goodheart are more detailed exposition is made.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Critique (Photographic)

I think this applies to peer review of scientific papers just as well, however here it is specifically aimed at those writing a critique of photographs:

So, no more "nice shot" or "I don't like this" or "Its not special"...the last one is quite amusing as the writer defined special as "his"...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Cartesian Closed Cateories

Just some links for future reference:
  • The Joy of Cats
  • Topos theory in a nutshell