29 September 2008

Sunday 28 September 2008 Chat

RIP Paul Newman.
Racing driver. Philanthropist. Sometime actor.

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So whatever happened to CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle physics experiment?
Everything appeared to start well, with test beams successfully firing around the accelerator's ring. Then there was a big bang, but not the kind anyone wanted.
Before scientists had a chance to collide proton particle beams a fault was discovered, described as a 'massive' magnet quench, preventing magnet controllers from steering the proton particles around the tunnel.
As the LHC's super-cooled magnets overheated by 100C the fire brigade was called and liquid helium leaked into the LHC tunnel.
Althought CERN maintains the setback is minor and no longterm damage has been done to the LHC it looks uncertain whether low energy collision tests can be conducted before the LHC shuts down for the winter.
Meanwhile the ascertion that CERN scientists are now speaking in high pitched, squeaky voices is said to be completely untrue.

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The week The Godfather is voted the greatest movie of all time by 10,000 film fans and film makers (Empire magazine), it has also been announced that a movie is to be made of one of my all time favourite books.
Steven Spielberg's company, DreamWorks, has acquired the rights to Chocky by British science fiction writer John Wyndham.
Wyndham achieved popularity for his man-eating plants in The Day of the Triffids.
By comparison
Chocky, published in 1968, is a much gentler tale about a little boy with an imaginary friend.
Except the imaginary friend turns out to be an alien.
I look forward to seeing if Mr Spielberg is able to retain the sense of confusion and menace that I remember from reading the book as a child. A lot of ET, yes, but also a little bit Alien.
Here's hoping.

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