I carry my girl
She carries the map and snacks
Off we go for fun
May 29, 2010
Reposted from: Ron Grossman for the Chicago Tribune
By the logic of science, things simply shouldn’t exist. The best scientific minds of several generations have reasoned that shortly after the Big Bang created the universe, matter and antimatter should have wiped each other out.
So that explains the global chain reaction of excited e-mails among physicists this month, after scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory “opened the box” — their jargon for taking a peek at newly crunched data — and raised hopes of some day solving the riddle of existence. “It’s like looking back to the instant where everything began,” said Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the sprawling research facility near Batavia. Simply put, the Fermi team sent protons and antiprotons around its underground Tevatron accelerator ring into a head-on collision, which produced slightly more tiny fragments called “muons” than tiny fragments called “antimuons.” It was a laboratory victory of matter over antimatter, and a minuscule replication of what scientists believe must have happened shortly after the Big Bang, though exactly how matter won out has long confounded them.
Previous tests slamming such infinitesimal particles together — a proton is one one-hundred-thousandth the size of an atom — have produced similar results. But they never have risen above a statistical shadow of doubt for physicists working with computer calculations about particles and interactions they can’t see. By contrast, the latest discovery by Fermilab’s DZero team seems statistically solid. If it makes it past critical peer review, it will lead to a re-evaluation of existing theories and, possibly, a deeper understanding of physics and why things exist. It certainly will inspire a barrage of additional supercollider tests, as other labs try to verify the discovery or shoot it down.
Either way, it could be one incremental step toward the holy grail of atomic physics: the long-sought discovery of the elusive “Higgs boson,” a theoretical particle assumed to be the fundamental building block of all matter. “It’ll be written about in physics books a hundred years from now,” said Zoltan Ligeti, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology who was not involved in the Fermilab experiment. For decades, Fermilab was the world’s pre-eminent center for subatomic particle research. But increasingly, the expectation was that the next big breakthrough in physics would come from a new and more powerful European accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, which has begun overshadowing Fermi and draining its talent. So scientists at the older facility just west of Chicago have expressed a quiet satisfaction with the home team victory, which could help its efforts to remain relevant and fund-worthy. In a Web site posting, Fermilab Director Pier Oddone said “I am delighted to see yet another exciting result from the Tevatron.” An official from the U.S. Department of Energy, which funds Fermilab, echoed that pride, saying the “result underlines the importance and scientific potential of the Tevatron program.” The question of existence is something that humans have wondered about ever since there were humans to wonder: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” as the 17th Century philosopher Gottfried Leibniz put it.
Clearly, things do exist — evidenced by the sprawling research facility near Batavia, where bison graze above a subterranean, 4-mile-circumference accelerator, or the tidy homes in nearby suburbs where Fermilab staff members live. But, theoretically, they shouldn’t. One of physics’ foundation stones is the concept of a symmetrical universe. Everything has its mirror opposite, like humans’ left and right hands. As schoolchildren learn, Newton said every action has an equal and opposite reaction. “A good example is the Big Bang,” Lykken said, putting his colleagues’ discovery into context. “The universe began as a perfectly symmetrical object, a ball of energy.” The problem lies in what happened next. That energy condensed into matter but also into its opposite, antimatter. The two being mutually destructive, they should have canceled each other out. Instead, Lykken noted, matter joined together in ever larger concentrations — nuclei, atoms, stars, galaxies.
Fermilab had that kind of question in mind 27 years ago when it built the Tevatron to imitate Big Bang-like collisions in miniature. The tentative breakthrough came earlier this month when some of the Dzero team’s 500 scientists looked at the latest of eight years’ worth of results from collisions, monitored in a Buck Rogers-looking apparatus in a warehouse-type building atop one of the rings. In the game of physics, the ball now passes from researchers to theoreticians like Lykken to figure out how the new data jibe with scientists’ overall understanding of the universe, a collection of theories known as the Standard Model. His office at Fermilab is dominated by an enormous old-fashioned blackboard covered with mathematical expressions and graphs, each a trial-fit interpretation of experimental data, and perhaps such a chalk scrawl will someday explain how matter prevailed.
The discovery someday could have practical spinoffs, but it could have immediate implications, among them in the clamorous intersection of politics and religion. Lykken hypothesized that proponents of “intelligent design” could seize upon the new findings to further support their argument that the laws of nature are so fine-tuned, they must be the handiwork of a creator. From a scientific perspective, he postulated there could be an infinite number of universes, some vastly different and others quite similar, though not exactly. “I can imagine a universe exactly like ours,” Lykken said. “Except that the Cubs win a World Series.”
In the course of their normal work, theoreticians and researchers freely exchange ideas in a regular rhythm of intellectual interaction — except when a big breakthrough like the recent one is at hand. “For about 10 days we kept quiet about it, not talking to other physicists, even those here at Fermi,” said Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a member of the research group. Once their data and logic had been double-checked, the research team invited colleagues to a Friday evening wine-and-cheese party, a tell-tale method of tipping off colleagues.
Lykken was away at a scientific conference, half-listening to a panel presentation while checking e-mail on a laptop computer when his invitation arrived on his screen. The title of the presentation at the Fermi bash began with two exciting words — “evidence for …” As a group, physicists don’t indulge in frequent displays of emotion. But Lykken wasn’t the only Fermi scientist elated by what was found when “the box” was opened on May 5. Soldner-Rembold said he got goose bumps. “I said, ‘Wow!’ ” recalled Dmitri Denisov, a physicist present at the opening.
Ah, rain gently falls.
And falls and falls and falls and–
Warm mud past my hocks.
Hang on little man. WIN! What?
I don’t eat roses.
In March of 2009 a local feed and tack store held a grand reopening and to create buzz and a festive atmosphere they
invited purveyors of equine related goods and services to set up tables with information in the back store room. Christine and I went because we’re always up for a look-see at horsie crap and to test our resolve to not add another layer onto our already bulging bridle, blanket and saddle holders.
Christine is my tightly strung, deeply pedigreed Morab-style, horse-addicted neighbor. Her Type A ways often grip her upper body becoming a nagging pain in the neck. Maybe this could be attributed to being under the influence of my proximity if I could get her away from her dog kennel business as often as I’d like. But I don’t so you’re not pinning this one on me, see?
Hey, here’s a fun fact – the noise of barking dogs stresses her out. Guess what concrete block kennel walls specialize in acoustically highlighting? You got it. So she was making her way around the perimeter of the event in her outgoing-ly talky talk way. Lo and behold who should she run up against but a bona fide European trained, energy-focused Intuitive Healer!
Villomina Schiff (not her real name, by the way) took one gander at Christine directed her to “platz” (sit) and started kneading the kinks and knots out of her neck and shoulders all the while admonishing her in that firm tone of, say, a sky instructor in the Swiss Alps about her apparent tendencies to hang onto to too much junk. She nailed it! Plus I liked her directness and I admired her almost instant ability to help Christine.
She handed us each her card and mentioned that not only could she help heal humans her specialty was with human-animal partnerships. Well this rang a bell in my noggin as Mumu and I had been having some difficulties what with the foot problems, and weird hump in his back and all. Was it all just health junk or was I somehow playing into the underlying causes. See? These are the sort of doubts the gullible, guilt-ridden horse-owning person like me lets herself get sucked into.
The positive effects of Villomina’s treatment on Christine lingered long enough to goad us to look up her website. It was just ugly enough to somehow give that scholarly quasi scientific feel without any of the ol’ airy-fairy New Agey dancing dolphins, rainbows and stars, lots of stars.
She had recommendations from what looked like serious upper level dressage professionals and trainers. Her qualifications and training had come to her in Europe, home of homeopathy and closer than us to the home of reiki too, but me being American — and I hate to admit this — I figured this could all probably be even better than whatever brands of this stuff they were peddling out in Taos or Berkeley. And I’m not saying this turned out to be 100% incorrect on a certain level.
So I made contact and soon she was out doing her thing to Mumu and me. Villomina thought she had made some sort of breakthrough contact with the mu-ster but how could she know he acts outgoing and kittenish with everyone and I just didn’t have it in me to burst her bubble on that one. After all, what does it matter I thought. Any help is good help when it comes to my nutty horse.
So then it was into the house, onto the message table thing and on with the reiki energy healing with me. This older-than-her-years kinda dowdy (but not paying too much attention to how you look is a healthy thing, right? Shows a level of self-acceptance we all strive for, right?) soothsayer stroked my arms and in so doing seemed to have called out some deeply rooted old issues that had long been forgotten and without any coaching from me she seemed able to offer enlightenment as to their provenance. Huh. Kinda interesting and when she was done and we had laughed about it all I felt refreshed, reflective and decided she was cool.
And at that moment, I dare say, she was.
Turns out though, Villomina carries some stuff around with her too, as heavy and dark as the rest of ours. (See Do Intuitives Bite? Part 2)
So Villomina was able to intuit some deeply stored old memories through her very own peculiar blend of energy work. I was impressed. We really seemed to hit it off too on that level where people used to accessing their inner resources find so delightful when we discover this ease with the esoteric in another.
She shared that she was interested in finding a place where she could conduct workshops using her methods. I mentioned how I had been looking at doing something like that right there at DogTrot Hill (www.QuantumSparks) With my art coaching experiences and her intuitive insight and guidance we figured we could offer a really zingy thing.
I readied the barn and the house. Villomina came over to discuss the day’s logistics. Interestingly she regaled me with tales that each ended by her revealing the private personal flaws of each of her past event partners in shocking detail.
In the middle of this she frowned mightily, reached into her mouth and yanked her teeth (uppers and lowers) right out and plopped them right into the open maw of her granny bag! “My oral surgeon vants me to stop bothering him about these teeth but they do not fit in my mouth the right way.” she explained.
She then went into great detail about the incompetence of this person, his receptionist and the social program that was paying the tab, as I worked on looking anywhere but at her flapping gums. I took it as one of those opportunities to look past appearance and embrace the inner beauty. No, I’m not kidding.
1. Why did I ignore her disturbingly unprofessional conduct?
2. Why had every partnership and personal relationship she described to me end with the other being some sort of perfect trainwreck of a human being in her opinion?
In hindsight all I have to say for myself is “Uhhhhh…..!”. While it was playing out in front of me though I blithely went forward as though a cantankerous collaborator spewing somewhat random criticism is The Perfect Partner for a day of introspective exploration. As far as I can figure, her spot-on intuition during our session made such a deeply positive impression on me I became blind to the obvious and focused rather on winning her continued approval as her equal. Sigh. Where’s the horse sense when I need it, eh?
The day came. The participants were a delightful array of engaging personalities. The workshop got underway.
Things unfolded in an organic and mostly smooth way. One guy became a bit long winded and I wondered why Villomina didn’t head him off at the pass – but I decided with her experience she was trusting the process rather than caving in to temptation to redirect the action.
He finally paused for a breath and the group took the opportunity to move on. I admired Villomina for putting up with it because all my senses had told me “Dive! Dive! Dive!”.
Her intuition must have told her others in group were benefiting from his self-focused soliloquy. I was looking forward to asking about that later.
On to the equine assisted activity!
(See Do Intuitives Bite Part 3 – below!)