September 30, 2008

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons or lead, two of several types of hadrons, at up to 99.99 percent the speed of light.

The LHC was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and lies underneath the Franco-Swiss border between the Jura Mountains and the Alps near Geneva, Switzerland. It is funded by and built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesized Higgs boson.

On 10 September 2008 the LHC accelerated its first proton streams, only to have operations suspended on 12 September 2008 due to equipment failure. Owing to the already planned winter shutdown, the collider will not be operational again until the spring of 2009.

When in operation, about seven thousand scientists from eighty countries will have access to the LHC. It is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, the last unobserved particle among those predicted by the Standard Model. The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would shed light on the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking, through which the particles of the Standard Model are thought to acquire their mass. In addition to the Higgs boson, new particles predicted by possible extensions of the Standard Model might be produced at the LHC. More generally, physicists hope that the LHC will enhance their ability to answer the following questions:
  • Is the Higgs mechanism for generating elementary particle masses in the Standard Model indeed realised in nature? If so, how many Higgs bosons are there, and what are their masses?

  • Are electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force just different manifestations of a single unified force, as predicted by various Grand Unification Theories?

  • Why is gravity so many orders of magnitude weaker than the other three fundamental forces? See also Hierarchy problem.

  • Is Supersymmetry realised in nature, implying that the known Standard Model particles have supersymmetric partners?

  • Will the more precise measurements of the masses and decays of the quarks continue to be mutually consistent within the Standard Model?

  • Why are there apparent violations of the symmetry between matter and antimatter? See also CP-violation.

  • What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?

  • Are there extra dimensions , as predicted by various models inspired by string theory, and can we detect them?

Of the possible discoveries the LHC might make, only the discovery of the Higgs particle is relatively uncontroversial, but even this is not considered a certainty. Stephen Hawking said in a BBC interview that "I think it will be much more exciting if we don't find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of one hundred dollars that we won't find the Higgs." In the same interview Hawking mentions the possibility of finding superpartners and adds that "whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe."

As an ion collider

The LHC physics programme is mainly based on proton–proton collisions. However, shorter running periods, typically one month per year, with heavy-ion collisions are included in the programme. While lighter ions are considered as well, the baseline scheme deals with lead ions. (see A Large Ion Collider Experiment). This will allow an advancement in the experimental programme currently in progress at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). The aim of the heavy-ion programme is to provide a window on a state of matter known as Quark-gluon plasma, which characterized the early stage of the life of the Universe.

July 27, 2008

How Fast is The Earth Heating Up?

Much debate in the last five years about the greenhouse effect has centered on interpreting temperature numbers generated at weather stations all over the world. The data from these thermometers are averaged and plotted in attempts to determine just how fast the earth has heated up since the measurements began. There is now no doubt the world is getting warmer. The thermometers show that the world is warmer now than at any time since the measurements started. The year 1990 was the hottest year in the last century. Together with 1991, the years of 1983, 1987, 1988, and 1989, have been measured to be the warmest 6 years in the last hundred years. 1991 was the second warmest year of the past century, perhaps due to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo during that year. The ash from the volcano in the upper atmosphere blocks some sunlight to earth, and is expected to generate a temporary two or three year cooling effect. After that time, most ash particles will have settled back to earth, and most scientists expect to see the global warming trend continue.

According to scientists, we can with "99% confidence conclude that current temperatures represent a real warming trend rather than a chance fluctuation over the 30-year period." Most scientists agree that the planet's temperature has risen 0.5 degrees Celsius since 1900, and will continue to increase at an increasing rate. The environment is responding to this warming. For instance, a study of mountain plants in the Alps (Europe), shows that some cold-loving plants are starting to move to higher and cooler altitudes. That is a possible response to increasing temperatures.

July 26, 2008

India Gets First Hybrid Car

Honda Siel Cars India, is the first company to offer a hybrid car in India.The Civic hybrid for India gets the same powertrain as everywhere else, including a 1.3L four cylinder with the i-VTEC variable valve timing system and the integrated motor assist (IMA) system.

The IMA has an electric motor that can't really drive the vehicle independently of the engine. When driving at a moderate, constant speed, the fuel can be shutoff to all four cylinders allowing the motor to propel the car while still turning the engine over. The car when being driven at 40-50 km per hour, operates only on the battery offering maximum fuel efficiency. According to the company, the fuel efficiency of Civic Hybrid is in the range of 19-23 km a per litre when measured with the existing petrol based model, that offers approximately 15 km per litre. It was launched in 1997 in US & Japan, Toyota and Honda are the only companies selling "mass-market" hybrids in the world.

Honda said that the Civic Hybrid would cost Rs 21.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The import duty on a completely built unit (CBU) is 104 per cent. The company will import the CBU from Japan, where it produces the hybrid car for its global markets. However, it is also exploring alternatives through which it can import the engines and parts and bring the car as a semi-knocked down unit.The company said that it did not expect to sell high volumes, but wanted to make a statement of its technology and commitment to the environment. Honda has imported around 130 units and expects to sell around 300 during the year.

In a major boost to eco-friendly hybrid cars, the government is planning to slash excise and customs duties on such vehicles. The move aims at encouraging the use of alternative sources of fuel. At present, Honda Civic is the only hybrid version in the country. Several other manufacturers like Mahindra and Tatas are planning to join the race soon. As per the proposal mooted by the Department of Heavy Industries, excise duty on such cars should be reduced to 12% from existing 14%. It has also demanded a reduction in customs duty which is over 100% on such imports.
Next in line is the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car, Honda's FCX Clarity ...(In next post).

July 24, 2008

Senator Barack Obama Support Al Gore's movement against Global Warming

"For decades, Al Gore has challenged the skeptics in Washington on climate change and awakened the conscience of a nation to the urgency of this threat. I strongly agree with Vice President Gore that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, but must fast-track investments in renewable sources of energy like solar power, wind power and advanced biofuels, and those are the investments I will make as President. It's a strategy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced, and one that will leave our children a world that is cleaner and safer." This statement was issued by Senator Barack Obama on July 17,2008 on his website(

The Best Speech during No-Confidence Motion on July 22nd :

To me this 2 day special session of parliament on 21st and 22nd of July will be remembered for a long time for the speeches and the controversy it had.All the television new channel were trying their level best to increase their TRP ratings by giving the update in a filmy style.

On one side we had the best speech by Omar Abdullah so far keeping in mind the elections in J&K in the next few months,and on the other side we had witnessed the most shocking incident involving 3 MP's from the opposition creating a filmi climax to the no confidence vote by showing bundles of currency.

That day also was important for Rahul Gandhi as he was successful in giving his speech in the House with some opposition by the BSP MP's. I would rate Lalu's speech as second almost the best on that day and the third would be Rahul Gandhi's speech.

This special session also saw the emergence of Singh is King (Mr. Manmohan Singh as a politician) and I hope that the congress would pitch him as PM candidate im the coming elections.Let's be optimistic about the reforms being implemented in the right (not Left's) way.