Tuesday, December 13, 2011

off cuts news queuing


Posted by Picasa First there were the Christmas cards. Then the trimmings, and the fine trimmings from the guillotine. Here are the fine trimmings. The trimmings are used for book marks.

Today's news is dominated by two things.
First, the reaction in Europe and the UK to the British Prime Minister's rejection of a treaty designed to bring European countries into closer union, particularly fiscal union, in order the avoid the collapse of the Euro currency.
Second, by possible sitings of the Higgs Boson, the missing particle which the Standard Model of the universe requires to explain mass in sub atomic particles. If the Higgs Boson, sometimes known at the God particle, doesn't exist, will someone have to invent it?  Research is carried out  in the Large Hadron Collider which forms a huge circle under parts of Switzerland and France, and fires particles at one another at speeds approaching the speed of light. It seeks to recreate the conditions which existed when the universe was formed by a big explosion 13.8 billion years ago.
Which item of news is more important?

In the post office unit in the newsagent at the bottom of Mount Sion a queue stretches between magazine racks and shelves of assorted goods. "I hate queueing," says the woman in front of me. But she doesn't appear to notice the magazines of which there us a vast and tantalising choice. For example: Nuts, by appearances, a lads' magazine; Model World; Auto Express; Muscle and Fitness; Golfer; Tattoo life.  I pass the  time writing down the titles. 
The woman in front of me reaches the counter and hands over her letters for weighing and stamping. Most have addresses in mainland Europe. "We're out of Europe stamps," says the woman behind the counter,  without apology, breathless and with that note of triumph, which certain people whose job it is to serve the public,  reserve, in moments of stress, for the public.

1 comment:

Lorenzo da Ponte said...

Higgs, in the 1960s, using mathematics, predicted that his not-then-eponymous boson must exist. The LHC was built to confirm this prediction. Having been taught (in a very very tiny way) during my RAF service the relationship between the real world and mathematical expressions of it, I can see the thrill of spending billions of euros in proving Higgs was right about something so utterly fundamental.

That is until I read the contrarian views of another scientist saying he was hoping that the LHC proved the boson didn't exist (proving a negative is supposed to be impossible, I thought) since it will invalidate Higgs maths and we'll all have to start from zero again. Science proceeds (or in some cases tries to proceed) by coming up with repeatable proof of theoretical postulates but I have to say I find this latest view somewhat anarchical and rather depressing. LHC has only been going a few months, can't we at least warm ourselves a little longer at the fire of positive thinking before all that tubing is turned into a massive garbage disposal unit?

As to your question - the answer is likely to be as certain as the rest of the so-called answers in post-quantum physics, which is to say not certain at all.

I like to think of George Osborne as a particle, though not the God Particle.