I am a second year PhD student working within the ATLAS Collaboration, which is one of the multi-purpose detectors installed at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. I am currently based out at CERN on a long term attachment away from my home institution. This tumblr is a platform from which I can try to educate and inform others interested in particle physics and wonderful science, as well as provide some insight into the workings of a PhD. Click here to see the kinds of things I like. You can find my personal blog here.
The LEGO ATLAS detector is a super way of describing and showing the inside of the ATLAS detector to those who may never get a chance to see the real thing, and will certainly never get an opportunity to poke around the inside.
Recently, interactive java applets which let you see the sheer scale of objects (whether they be astronomical in size or nanoscopic) have been immensely popular in teaching people about size and scale. Indeed, being told about the relative proportions of the Earth in the Solar System and the Universe is a great way of explaining the sheer emptiness of space.
This model is a miniaturised equivalent of the ATLAS detector that can show the constituent components of the detector.
This original model of ATLAS, entirely built from LEGO, was designed by Sascha Mehlhase, and is a 1:50 scale model of the detector, as seen below.
Using the provided link above (and here), you can vote to get the mini-model (as shown at the very top of the posts) to enter into worldwide production! Only 10,000 votes are required and LEGO will put the design into production, such that anyonecan buy and construct it.
With a reduced size, cost and build time, this smaller model can be made by any child (or adult!) with an active scientific mind. This model is perfect for small outreach projects and schools which do not have the time or assets to acquire the large version.
It shouldn’t take much time to register a vote, and would be amazing if this would be something this could be made available easily to anyone!
More information about the LEGO models is available here. More information about the mini-model is available here!
Click on this, play with the checkboxes and scroll around the page, you will not regret it.
Hubble stared at a tiny patch of sky for twenty-three days straight to produce this beautiful image of thousands of galaxies, some of which are 13.2 billion years old. This is the “deepest” image of the sky to date, known as the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field.
Dr Stephen Wilkins (Uni of Sussex, UK) has merged all the images taken of XDF with different telescopes, and has catalogued the luminosities (a measure of brightness), redshift (a measure of distance, the higher the number the further away the galaxy is) and spectral energy distributions (energy signatures across all colours of light) for each galaxy.
An opportunity here to look into the depths of the Universe with Hubble and see a deep field image in multiple wavelengths. The cataloguing and ease of use is very impressive.
This beautiful animation (seriously give it a few seconds to load!), effectively showing the world at work, actually comes from some 420,000 computers which were hacked by an anonymous researcher. The hacking was low-level and relatively friendly - the computer was pinged from time to time to check its connectivity and it did not interfere with the main programs being run (and even a message was left when it was done explaining what had happened and a contact email).
There is further information available on this post on Motherboard, and whilst no-one will condone hacking activities, one can still marvel at the data flow which can be visualised.
Wherever you go on this blue, green and white globe of ours, odds are some person has been there before you—and left a mark. That’s because the hunting, farming or burning practices of our most distant ancestors have shaped most land areas on the planet, argues an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists and ecologists in Proceedings of the National Academyof Sciences. If we are indeed living in the Anthropocene—a new geologic epoch brought on by the outsized environmental effects of the human species—then this new interval isn’t just a few hundred years old, it is older than the industrial revolution.
The researchers set out to investigate just how long human being have been profoundly changing the environment on land. “This is a super important question for the identity of humanity,” argues ecologist Erle Ellis of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a co-author. “Are we the people who transformed the planet for hundreds of generations, or the people who just recently started destroying things?”
To answer that outstanding question the researchers started with a vast spread of archaeological and ecological data from around the world, particularly micro charcoal records from sediment cores. The charcoal delivers a long-term record of human burning, whether intentional or accidental, that coincides with the arrival of modern humans in a particular area. That arrival also often coincides with the extinction of large predators and large animals, generally.
But how exactly do humans impact a new environment? Scientists have used computer models that aim to estimate how quickly and how profoundly Homo sapiens change the landscape. One option estimates land use simply based on the number of humans around, assuming a minimum acreage required to support a person. The other model has humans relatively quickly sprawl through an entire area, but then contract to intensify land use in support of a larger but denser population. This might be dubbed the laziness principle—humans invest the least amount of work, technology or any other resource as possible to survive and even thrive, these researchers argue. “People are doing the easiest thing, knocking out top predators early on,” Ellis explains. “There’s a pretty big impact per person to make a living, [because people are] burning big swathes of forest just to make it easier to get some game.”
According to this model, and the charcoal record where it is available, a relatively small number of humans began to transform most of the planet’s land surface at least 3,000 years ago. “If people can get away with less work, they’re going to do less work,” says archaeologist Dorian Fuller of University College London, who also contributed to the research.
Take for example rice cultivation in Asia, developed some 6,000 years ago in the Yangtze River Valley but not adopted for another thousand years or so in areas of southern China and Southeast Asia. “You have relatively happy hunter-gatherer-fishers who don’t want to put in the effort” to farm rice until population density requires it, Fuller explains.
As the human population swells—as seen in the record of fertilizer use in Europe and Asia—the resources then become more intensively used. This is not confined to agriculture; archaeologists find a similar intensification in the hunting patterns of Paleolithic Europeans after the decline of big game. These proto-Europeans began to hunt a wider range of smaller animals more intensively as well as developing the food preparation technology to extract more food from a larger array of sources. This idea further suggests that humanity has escaped time and time again from the Malthusian trap of population colliding with limited resources by transforming the relationship between human population and the environment through technology, whether through the invention of cooking or modern mechanized agriculture. Humanity simply applies technology to derive more from a given resource, whether it be copper or farmland.
That trend continues into the present day, the researchers argue. The most modern industrial agriculture focuses primarily on the best land it can get. The human population has shifted away from subsistence and low productivity agriculture, collecting in cities as fossil-fueled machines help fewer farmers work the land. “The next revolution is when the majority of people get into cities and are fed by a minority,” Fuller explains. This process is already complete in industrialized countries where less than 1 percent of the population feeds the rest, but “we’re not finished with that yet,” in developing countries such as China and India, Fuller says. Peak farmland may be imminent.
If the human impact is longstanding and widespread, then the landscape is as much in recovery from past impacts as it is enduring new changes. Think of the cutting back of the Amazon rainforest—itself potentially a recovery from earlier, more intensive human use before the arrival of Europeans—versus the regrowth of the forests of the eastern U.S. In fact, the woodland ecosystems of Europe and South America commonly thought of as natural may be the legacy of prior human use. “Most of the forest have had people in them, interacting with them and transplanting species around for thousands of years,” Fuller notes. “We have very little in the way of natural forests, which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be trying to reforest environments and have forests.” After all, the modern phase of the Anthropocene may be the first time humans can choose intentionally what an appropriate level of impact might be.
Fully answering this question of how long the human impact on land has been widespread requires a broader global synthesis of the archaeological and paleoecological data on human population and land use. Most of that data is available—and has been examined—in a local rather than global context, such as the impacts of humans on the Yucatan Peninsula or Australia. Nevertheless, what data exists suggests that this is a “used planet,” in the words of the authors. “We’ve been husbanding these biomes and creating our own types of ecologies—the cultivated lands, the rangelands—we’ve been doing this for a very long time,” Ellis argues. “We’ve been living in that Anthropocene biosphere since prehistory.”
Another nice interactive website, but instead of looking at the scale of objects and the Universe from a spatial perspective, it looks at the amount of time that has stretched before us, and the relative proportions of different eras of development of the Universe and life.
Tomorrow (or even today as I write this) will see the first TEDx event organised and hosted at CERN. From the CERN press release:
The speakers for TEDxCERN range from pioneers to young scientists: George Church, on recent breakthroughs with DNA; Londa Schiebinger, historian, on gendered innovation; Chris Lintott, on how to discover a planet from your sofa; Hiranya Peiris, winner of the 2012 RAS Fowler Prize, on the early universe; John Searle, philosopher, on consciousness as a biological phenomenon; Maya Tolstoy on seafloor earthquakes; Ian Foster on Big Data; Marc Abrahams, MC of the Ig Nobel Awards and editor of theAnnals of Improbable Research, on why all good — and some bad — research is improbable; Eliezer Rabinovici and Zehra Sayers on SESAME, a ground breaking research project in the Middle East that is bringing together Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian, Turkish, Pakistani, and Iranian scientists; Brittany Wenger, 18-year-old scientist and Grand Prize Winner 2012 Google Science Fair, on Research and Inspiration; Lee Cronin on how chemistry can revolutionize modern technology; Becky Parker, winner of the first RAS Patrick Moore Medal, on why you are never too young to be a research scientist; and Gian Giudice, theoretical physicist, on what the current Higgs measurement could mean for the future of the Universe.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get a ticket to watch the webcast, hosted by George Smoot (I believe…) in the Main Auditorium and it should prove to be an interesting afternoon!
As per all TEDx event, there will be live streaming from the Globe at CERN. You can pick up more information here!
… well as much physics as I do in an afternoon, which is to say, lots when it is classified as coding, making plots, looking at plots, understanding plots, correcting plots, improving more code in order to repeat the whole process. Sometimes I get to read some papers and actually do some thinking too. Those are nice days …
So this image is made using iographica, a piece of software designed to just sit in the background and track mouse usage. Movements are lines, pauses are circles, and the longer the rest, the larger the circle! You can see I use a Mac too by the number of movements to the top left to close windows xD