Daily Archives: November 9, 2010

Noah’s Ark seeker vanishes

Donald Mackenzie has been visiting Mount Ararat in Turkey for several years, searching for Noah’s Ark, which according to the Bible was deposited by god on this mountain after the Noachain Flood. Although it seems to not have made news, Mackenzie was reported missing on October 14th.

Mr Mackenzie became interested in searching for Noah’s Ark in his early 40s, and did a variety of jobs to fund his travels.

His mother said he is a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland member because he believes it sticks closest to the Bible.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that a British national has been reported missing in Turkey, and local authorities are investigating the reports.

“Staff are in touch with the family and are providing consular assistance.”


Was he getting too close?

What Happens to Habitats with Global Warming?

ResearchBlogging.orgAs global warming progresses, habitats change in their suitability for various life forms. It may be that moose will not be able to live in Minnesota in the future; Of the two resident moose populations, the one that lives in the area more affected by global warming has pretty much died out probably due indirectly to the effects of increased temperature. There are regions of the rockies where entire forests are dead because of temperature changes. And so on.

Continue reading What Happens to Habitats with Global Warming?

Happy Giant Panda Day

Today is indeed a momentous day in history. On this day, in 1927, the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) was discovered by Teh West. It, of course, had previously been known to all those people for tens of thousands of years who lived among, and eated them.

This is also Carl Sagan‘s birthday. He was born in 1934, which seems like billions of years ago.

Do you remember Cosmos, first broadcast in 1980? (I always think of it as a few years earlier, but it was not.)

Do you remember The Great Blackout of 1965? I do (barely). It was today, but back then. It looked like this:


It is not true that there was a Blackout Baby Boom nine months later. But I think a lot of people did buy generators and/or candles.

On this day in 1888, Jack the Ripper killed Jane Kelly. He would not kill again after that. Here is a copy of a letter that may have been sent by Jack, along with a bit of internal organ from one of the victims, to the authorities:

From hell

Mr Lusk,


I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer

Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk

“Lusk” was George A. Lusk chair of a “vigilance committee” established at the time to keep an eye on things.

This is also the anniversary of the formation of the American Birth Control League by Margaret Sanger in 1921.

America was in a depression in the 1930s. It took 15 years to fully pull out of that economic crisis. Funny thing, though, when Roosevelt was elected in part to get us out of that crisis, and two years went by, the American People did not belly ache about how he had not fixed all of our problems already. Let that be a lesson to you people! Anyway, on this day in 1933, Roosevelt established the Civil Works Administration.


Men working.

And, finally, on this day in 1967 the first issue of “Rolling Stone” was published.


John Lennon on the cover of the first Rolling Stone.

Yes, a very interesting day in history. Tomorrow is interesting too.

Truths and Consequences

There are two reasons that the Republicans “won” the house and took more senate seats. One of them was made clear last night at dinner. Our waitress was funny. She started out a little funny-strange, then went to funny-ha ha, and I left the restaurant liking her and wishing more people were mostly like her. The funny-strange bit derived from her thoughtful pauses following certain questions like “do you have vegetables” and “you are out of my favorite beer, what should I drink” and so on. It turns out that we were pretty nearly her first customers ever, and she was hiding her nervousness very well but something (strange) was seeping through. She also heard and began to engage in our conversation, and was probably unsure how appropriate that might be (a good question, indeed). When we proved friendly the banter amongst us evolved into an all-out Michele Bachmann bash-fest, funny-strange had evolved into funny-ha ha and I was glad to be giving this person a tip instead of some Michele Bachmann supporter.
Continue reading Truths and Consequences

Minnesotans: Help Wadena recover

You may recall me mentioning a tornado last year in Wadena.

“The town’s been flattened. I’m on my way there for a high school reunion. It looks more like it’s going to be a high school clean-up.”

If you are in the region, I just wanted you to know about a fund raiser to help get the people of Wadena back on their feet.

Months after a devastating tornado struck Wadena, a benefit will be held this weekend to help the still-recovering Minnesota town.

The Wadena Relief Benefit will be held Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina.

Details here.

Heavy Ion Collision at LHC

After extracting the final proton beam of 2010 on 4 November, commissioning the lead-ion beam was underway by early afternoon. First collisions were recorded at 00:30 CET on 7 November, and stable running conditions marked the start of physics with heavy ions at 11:20 CET today.

Operating the LHC with lead ions – lead atoms stripped of electrons – is completely different from operating the machine with protons. From the source to collisions, operational parameters have to be re-established for the new type of beam. For lead-ions, as for protons before them, the procedure started with threading a single beam round the ring in one direction and steadily increasing the number of laps before repeating the process for the other beam. Once circulating beams had been established they could be accelerated to the full energy of 287 TeV per beam. This energy is much higher than for proton beams because lead ions contain 82 protons. Another period of careful adjustment was needed before lining the beams up for collision, and then finally declaring that nominal data taking conditions, known at CERN as stable beams, had been established. The three experiments recording data with lead ions, ALICE, ATLAS and CMS can now look forward to continuous lead-ion running until CERN’s winter technical stop begins on 6 December.

“The ALICE detector has been optimised to record the large number of tracks that emerge from ion collisions and has handled the first collisions very well, so we are all set to explore this new opportunity at LHC.”

“The ATLAS detector has recorded first spectacular heavy-ion events, and we are eager to study them in detail.”

“We designed CMS as a multi-purpose detector,” said Guido Tonelli, the collaboration’s spokesperson, “and it’s very rewarding to see how well it’s adapting to this new kind of collision. Having data collected by the same detector in proton-proton and heavy-ion modes is a powerful tool to look for unambiguous signatures of new states of matter.”

Lead-ion running opens up an entirely new avenue of exploration for the LHC programme, probing matter as it would have been in the first instants of the Universe’s existence. One of the main objectives for lead-ion running is to produce tiny quantities of such matter, which is known as quark-gluon plasma, and to study its evolution into the kind of matter that makes up the Universe today. This exploration will shed further light on the properties of the strong interaction, which binds the particles called quarks, into bigger objects, such as protons and neutrons.

Following the winter technical stop, operation of the collider will start again with protons in February and physics runs will continue through 2011.