Tuesday, 30 March 2010

7 TeV Collisions!!!!!!!!!

LHC makes new record with 7TeV collisions.

I'd go straight to CERN for the details and official press release, but The Register writes about the LHC so much more "fluently"...

LHC particle-punisher in record 7 TeV hypercollisions

Earth apparently still here: Tinfoilers omelette-visaged
It's official: as this is written, the most powerful particle collisions ever achieved by the human race are taking place inside the great subterranean detector caverns of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Tinfoilclad doom prophets around the world - fearing some kind of planet-imploding black hole mishap, planetary soupening or custardisation event etc - no doubt found it a trouser-moistening moment, but in fact as we write everything seems to be nominal at CERN. Evidently, as it turns out, all the world's top physicists were right and the tinfoilers were wrong.

Science fans can now look forward in the immediate future to a volley of excellent collision pictures from the various detectors. Thereafter, once the enormous supercomputing arrays of CERN get to crunching on the resulting stream of data, various promised scientific treats are to be expected: the Higgs boson (or "God particle") may make its appearance, or not, so settling the long-running feud between Professors Higgs and Hawking.

Congratulations to CERN and for those tinfoil hat wearers worried about the LHC you can always check with the "Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed The World Yet" web pages to check if that event has happened.

Twitter feed here for regular updates.

Finnish Post Offce

According to this news report the Finnish Post Office intent to save money by opening peoples' mail, scanning then and then transmitting the contents by email...

Itella avaa postia asiakkaiden puolesta
julkaistu tänään klo 07:22, päivitetty tänään klo 09:39
Itella kokeilee postin jakamista sähköpostin välityksellä. Postityöntekijä avaa kirjeen, skannaa sen ja lähettää sähköpostilla vastaanottajalle. Tavoitteena on helpottaa haja-asutusalueiden postinjakelua.
Some of the comments suggest this might be an April fool's joke...in March...

What could go wrong? Discuss...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Teaching mathematics....late...

Very interesting article from Psychology Today regarding an experiment by L. P. Benezet in 1929 where we deliberately stopped the teaching of mathematics (specifically arithmetic) to very young school children with the result that they became much stronger at mathematics when it was introduced much later on in the curriculum:

When Less is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in Schools
In an experiment, children who were taught less learned more.
Published on March 18, 2010 by Peter Gray
In 1929, the superintendent of schools in Ithaca, New York, sent out a challenge to his colleagues in other cities. "What," he asked, "can we drop from the elementary school curriculum?" He complained that over the years new subjects were continuously being added and nothing was being subtracted, with the result that the school day was packed with too many subjects and there was little time to reflect seriously on anything. This was back in the days when people believed that children shouldn't have to spend all of their time at school work--that they needed some time to play, to do chores at home, and to be with their families--so there was reason back then to believe that whenever something new is added to the curriculum something else should be dropped.
A further link to more information about Benezet and references to the original papers on the subject:

L. P. Benezet, "The Teaching of Arithmetic I, II, III: The Story of an Experiment," Journal of the National Education Association

  1. Volume 24(8): 241-244 (November 1935)
  2. Volume 24(9): 301-303 (December 1935)
  3. Volume 25(1): 7-8 (January 1936) 
The articles were reprinted in the Humanistic Mathematics Newsletter #6: 2-14 (May 1991).

And a link to a PDF of all three parts.

Monday, 22 March 2010

nCategory Cafe wk294 - Control Theory

Some interesting work from the nCategoryCafe regarding open vs closed systems, control theory and categoric formalisms.
So, I should get back to my tale of electrical circuits. I'm really just using these as a nice example of physical systems made of components. Part of my goal is to get you interested in "open systems" - systems that interact with their environment. My physics classes emphasized "closed systems", where we assume that we've modelled all the relevant aspects of what's going on, so the interaction with the outside environment is negligible. Why? It lets us use the marvelous techniques of symplectic mechanics - Hamilton's equations, Noether's theorem giving conserved quantities from symmetries, and all that. These techniques don't work for open systems - at least, not until we generalize them. But almost every device we design is an open system, in a crucial way: we do things to it, and it does things for us. So engineers need to think about open systems.
And mathematical physicists should too - because life gets more interesting when you treat every system as having an "interface" through which it interacts with its environment. For starters, this lets you build bigger systems from components by attaching them along their interfaces. We can also formalize the problem of taking a system and decomposing it into smaller subsystems. In engineering this is called "tearing".
(John Baez)
With a good reference to  Jan C. Willems, In control, almost from the beginning until the day after tomorrow, European Journal of Control 13 (2007), 71-81. Available at: http://homes.esat.kuleuven.be/~jwillems/Articles/JournalArticles/2007.2.pdf

Friday, 19 March 2010

"Doing" mathematics...

Required materials: marker pens, coffee (strong), large whiteboard

My Numbers, Higher Dimensional Categories, Sheaves and Modal Logic

Erdos: 5
n-Category: 2  (actually I think it's 1 and a half....it tends towards 0 depending on the time of day :-) )*
Bacon: infinite

*Dan Freed claims his is still 1

So what the hell is an n-Category anyway?
Higher-Dimensional Categories: an illustrated guide book
Eugenia Cheng and Aaron Lauda
University of Cambridge, 2004
and I happen the like this neat mix of sheaves and modal logic found here:

Topology and First-Order Modal Logic


Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Categoric Theory of Music?

Published in the March 2010 edition of the European Mathematical Society's Newsletter

How to theorize music today in thelight of mathematics? A musician’s point of view
François Nicolas

discusses a musician's (and mathematician's) view to the theorisation of music - in particular is the idea that music is really a topos...quite nice really.

Urban Exploration

France24 has an excellent article on urban exploration...read on:

Exploring society's ruins

 We became interested in ruins in 2002, first through sheer curiosity, but now more so for the historical side. We feel a bit like budding archaeologists; we dig out empty buildings that are just next door from our homes but we never knew existed. We don't touch however, we only photograph.

And their website and forthcomming book ... some superb photographs in there.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lunokhod 2 Found!

Damned cool animation made from real pictures thanks to Nasa:
And the image from The Univesity of Western Ontario:

Monday, 15 March 2010

Going to the toilet in Canada during the Olympics

Interesting graph found at Pat's Papers:

It shows water consumption in Edmonton during the Canada-USA Ice Hockey Final (Canada 3-2 USA).

I guess the same was true in many, many places Worldwide and not just Edmonton - certainly was true in the Marriot Hotel Burlington's bar...

Dave Carroll is my hero

I'm not saying that United Airlines' customer service is bad, no, it is much much worse. Anyway, here's Dave Carroll's third video about United:

Not only do they break guitars but screw passengers (families in particular) out of money ( 1x23 kg takes a lot less hold space and fuel than 8x20 kg, but the former will cost you at least 150USD ) AND they don't process I94-W forms correctly either.

If your I94-W form is handed back to you at check-in when leaving the USA, inform the CBP as soon as possible with the name of the airline,check-in person, date, flight, airport etc. I'm told that not doing this is "very bad" for the airline.

Good thing that Finnair isn't going the same way....oh wait....