The Big Think

September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Jason! Here’s a Box of Armageddon

Filed under: Education,Mad Science,Science — jasony @ 3:26 pm

So, the universe (or maybe just planet Earth) is going to end on my birthday. This wednesday, Sept 10, the Large Hadron Collider is set to go online. It will fire up and, depending on who you believe, it will either usher in a new era of high energy physics and radically deepen our understanding of the universe, or blast us into a sticky, gluon-ey blob of recrimination-laced regret.

According to scientists (you know, the folks who are able to build this magnificent machine to such ridiculous tolerances), there is an astronomically small chance (.00000000000001 in, technically, Hell) that Something Bad might happen. Of course, luddite critics are screaming that they need to dismantle the thing because even That Is Too Big Of A Chance. They’ve even taken to making anonymous death threats to get the experiments stopped. Actual I-will-come-over-there-and-kill-you death threats. Against scientists. In white coats. With pocket protectors. Thus illustrating just how far down the path of lunacy our culture has tumbled. How moronically gullible the average Joe has become. How….geaaaargh (five minute paroxysm of teeth-grinding, hair-pulling frustration ensues. We apologize for the interruption).

Okay, knuckleheads. You neanderthalic thinkers in a modern age. You utter waste of educational resources, paper-thin roadblocks on the road of progress- here it is in tiny words, so pull your finger out of your nose and pay attention. The LHC is designed to smash particles together and create new ones. Then we study the new particles and see what we can learn. You say it’s dangerous, but- and here’s what’s called the “crux” of my position- particles with this same energy are constantly smacking into the atmosphere of earth billions- trillions- of times per second. The Universe is already doing the very same experiments just 100 miles above your flat stupid head. And in the Sun. And in every star in the universe. And much of the space in between all of that.

Part of the reason that we have to build the thing here is that it’s a lot easier to study the particles when you’re 40 meters underground than it is to hang out of a high altitude balloon with a spacesuit and a geiger counter. Of course, if we could build the thing on the far side of OZ these nattering nabobs of negativity would still claim it’s too close.

To say that doing it here on Earth puts us in jeopardy of instant annihilation makes you look like a bigger hayseed than the first guy to chuck a match down an outhouse hole and peek in to see the results. That a not-insignificant fraction of your listeners stops to give it more than two seconds of thought without collapsing into hysterical giggling says more about the state of education and general scientific intelligence than I can even begin to cope with. And I’m a flipping musician. WHO READS.

“But what if you’re wrong?” they wail. Well then, I’ll apologize to you on thursday.

Now step aside or I swear to you Zombie Isaac Newton will crawl out of his grave and hit you with a hammer.

That is all.

Quoth

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:25 pm

“…Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard: and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke within them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves…”

JRR Tolkien, on Sauraman’s Voice

Seems appropriate

Bow to the Story

Filed under: Audio,Movies — jasony @ 7:39 am

urgh… there are so many wonderful clips that I want to use in the military video. So many incredible stories and amazing conversations. It’s maddening and a little upsetting that the video only has time for so much.

My cutting room floor is littered with the outpourings of grateful hearts.

September 4, 2008

Soldiers

Filed under: Audio,Movies — jasony @ 5:56 pm

Editing the military week video and it’s very hard emotionally. Not only seeing the faces of these family members whom we had the privilege of getting to know, but also the realization of what could happen and how their lives could be changed.

They are brilliant, funny, and eloquent volunteers who understand the situation better than any pampered news anchor. They are not the children that those journalists would have you believe. Their spouses support the soldiers with a humbling sort of fierce dignity – the kind that, to witness, makes you feel like you’ve intruded on a very personal moment. Every soldier wants to go back and help the Iraqi’s through the first tentative steps toward a stable society. They all have a personal and intense sense of responsibility and honor, and they all think of the Iraqi’s as a battered but noble people on their way to a better life. Not as pawns in political shouting matches, but as people with histories, names, and a great amount of pain in their past. They speak with pride about schools they’ve built, the villages they have helped, and the comrades they have lost. And they are very aware of what their service costs (and might cost) their families.

It’s hard putting the video together because my memories of that week are still very fresh, and I have to get across to the viewer (donors) how grateful the families were for their time together. Unfortunately, when I do my job right the video tends to affect me as well, so I can only stay at it for a while.

It’s coming along nicely, though, and I’m amazed again at how much good, subtle music can add.

Filed under: Music,Science — jasony @ 12:57 pm

The Large Hadron Rap.

September 3, 2008

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:54 am

What to do with all that leftover styrofoam. Build a robot, of course!

Wormhole

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Science — jasony @ 9:53 am

Texas home swallowed by Wormhole.

September 2, 2008

Spotless

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 9:11 am

The sun (you know, our sun) has just finished its very first spotless month in a whole century. To solar watchers this is… disturbing.

In A World… without Don

Filed under: Audio,Movies — jasony @ 9:08 am

Legendary voiceover artist Don LaFontaine died yesterday.

Patently Ridiculous

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:55 am

Here’s more evidence that our patent system is busted. Microsoft has applied for, and received a patent on Page Up/Page Down. That’s right, the little button on your keyboard that lets you jump a whole page up or down, the button that’s been in existence as prior art for decades, is now the property of Microsoft. Theoretically they can now sue anyone that hasn’t paid them a licensing fee (that is passed on to the consumer, natch), and tie everyone up in court undoing this mess.

Why they would apply for a patent this ridiculous is only the tip of the mystery iceberg. That the PTO actually granted it should be sufficient proof that somebody in government needs to be taken out back and… reformed.

September 1, 2008

Extreme Zoom

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:29 pm

Zoom into a steel gear from 1:1 all the way down to the atomic level.

Curious.jpg

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