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On The Large Hadron Collider

I have to admit that even after reading several articles about it, I still don’t understand enough about the Large Hadron Collider to write an intelligent-sounding post. Physics, chemistry, astronomy — and anything that smacks of having even a distant relationship to math or calculus — don’t get past the internal censors in my head. I have enormous respect for people who do understand this stuff … I’m in awe of them, really … and this colossal experiment apparently has significance to these sciences that will be felt for many, many years.

So, here are a few related articles and sites that I came across yesterday:

From Computerworld:

Collider test called a ‘great milestone of mankind’ – “Today’s successful test run of a massive particle collider is being called ‘one of the great engineering milestones of mankind.’ On Wednesday morning, just outside of Geneva, scientists shot a particle beam fully around a 17-mile loop in the world’s most powerful particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Twenty years after development of the collider began, a particle beam made the full journey around the accelerator for the first time. It’s a forebear to the time when scientists will accelerate two particle beams toward each other at 99.9% of the speed of light….”

Also from Popular Science:

It’s Christmas for Physicists! – “If you somehow managed to avoid seeing the comic, listening to the rap or reading anything in the all out media blitz, then let me be the first to tell you that earlier today the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most power particle accelerator, began operation. Scientists hope that the experiments conducted in the $9 billion dollar accelerator will help them discover the mysterious Higgs boson. The Higgs boson, colloquially referred to as the ‘God particle,’ is the hypothetical particle that imbues matter with mass, and finding it (or not finding it) will have profound implications on the world of physics….”

And from the Boston Globe’s consistently excellent photography blog, The Big Picture, a series of images of the collider inside and out, here:

Large Hadron Collider nearly ready.

“Snail on the Run!”

Have you ever spent two hours on a Saturday afternoon chasing a snail around your back yard?

I thought not….

Well … I have. A few weekends ago I splurged on a new lens for my Sony A100 camera …

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… and as I was crawling around my back yard trying to figure out how to use it properly, I spotted this tiny creature resting on a dried up leaf….

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It started to move …

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… and you’d be surprised how fast a snail seems to travel at this magnification.

The focus on these shots is not great, and I’ve learned a lot more about using the lens since that first day, but I got a big kick out of how close I could get to something that was smaller than a small shirt button and still capture very good detail.

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The poor thing must have been camera shy, something I can certainly relate to, so I was careful not to use any flash but it tried to race off the leaf anyway …

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… yet the only way out of sight was through a whole in the leaf …

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… where it got stuck …

… so I set the camera aside, split the leaf to release it’s head, and off it went, disappearing into the forest…. I mean, uh, pine bark.

The lens is fantastic, definitely the best purchase I’ve made for the camera. I’ve gotten a lot better at predicting how it will react to light and focus at these close distances, so you can expect a huge quantity of photos of very small things — especially buds and bugs — to start appearing here and on my Flickr account pretty soon. I’ve also got a massive set of closeup shots from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, taken over several weekends, that impress even me — and that’s pretty hard to do….

From our friends over at YouTube, here’s Paul McCartney and Wings singing that classic, “Snail on the Run.” (It may sound like they’re saying “Band” — but they’re not.) Is the song stuck in your head yet?

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