Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009 !

The following pictures were taken today. This is my daughter Ellen sending happy new year wishes to everyone. The pictures are saying...
2009, yyyiiibbeee, Love, Ellen



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Windows 7 Beta 1

Microsoft is expected to announce the first Beta of Windows 7 at the 2009 International CES, January 8-11. But probably to the annoyance of Microsoft it has already leaked to the torrent sites (like The Pirate Bay), the legitimate version is the 2.44G files - watch out for bogus downloads.

Bloggers, that have already installed it (which I haven't), are saying there are no new features in the Beta but that it is a fast, solid and a very good first Beta.

Maybe this is just a way for Microsoft to re-package the "old" Vista, get rid of the badly published name and restart the marketing in the new year. But, anyway, we can hope, maybe they will add something to the new Windows 7 before it gets released to manufacturing - hopefully middle of this year or at least before the end of 2009.

I never installed Vista at work and have been waiting for the next Windows that can take over from Windows XP - all colleges that installed Vista have now uninstalled it and are running Windows Server 2008 --- on their laptops ---. According to them WS2008 is a very fast, solid and good operating system, even for a laptop, but I'm still not jumping.

Maybe I will try Windows 7 Beta 1 on my spare, a bit older, laptop at home and see how I like it. But I do think that it is time for the old XP to retire!

Friday, December 5, 2008

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

How come there is mass? Why do things weigh? Why isn't just everything weightless? A different way of asking would be, how come there is gravity? What is gravity made from? You see, nobody knows any of this! Don't believe me? Well, this is why we are so excited about LHC, the huge new accelerator at CERN. Gravity is the ultimate question. All we have are theories; maybe gravity is made from Higgs bosons? What's that? Nobody has ever seen any of these Higgs particles. So why should we believe they exist? Hopefully the new 27 km particle accelerator in Switzerland, can answer one question, are there Higgs particles?

Physicists around the world have been waiting 14 years while the accelerator was being built by 10 thousand other physicists. As you can imagine it has cost a fortune and therefore it was a major catastrophe when, in April 2008, an explosion damaged the tunnel considerably. The accident was a huge embarrassment to Fermilab, the American company that made the elementary mathematical mistake that led to the explosion. The tunnel got damaged but it's construction still continued.

In spite of this drawback the accelerator was used on the 10th of September 2008 and the first proton beams were successfully circulated in the main ring of the LHC. This was a low energy beam put the future collision of particles are hoped to be at energy levels of 5-7 TeV - energy levels never reached before. Such collisions are hoped to draw the Higgs particles into the light, so to speak. The project was on track to make the first collisions this autumn.

However, I read today in Nature that there will now be delays as the accelerator failed one of its power tests, which was probably a result of the accident earlier this year. The power test caused damage to magnets in addition to those damaged during the accident in April. A report that came out today, says LHC will not start until July 2009.

News reports claim the damaged magnets will be replaced and security systems will be put in place to prevent future accidents. The delay is a pity; but I agree with safety first. In the end it is always going to be worth waiting for. For my part, I can't wait for the articles for the popular science buffs, like myself, to hit the magazines. It will be Christmas then, no matter if it is July.

"Sooner or later, we're going to have really exciting science." -Seth Zenz, student, Berkley

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Along with more difficult books, like "Learning WCF" by Michele Leroux Bustamante, "SQL Server 2005 Implementation and Maintenance" by a group at Solid Quality Learning and "The New Positioning" by Jack Trout, I think it is important to relax my mind by also reading more positive uplifting and human books, like "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!", which I just finished.

"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" is a collection of stories from the life of Richard Feynman, probably one of the most interesting physicist of the last century. The stories were informally told to and recorded by Ralph Leighton and then edited by Edward Hutchings.

Ralph and Edward have ordered and grouped the stories into five parts that each have to do with a certain part of Richard's life, like his childhood, time at Princeton, the military, the transition from Cornell to Caltech and different other stories. The book is very well organized and gives a good feeling and flow from one story to the next. And the stories are very honest, heartfelt, exceptionally funny and actually made me laugh out load ones or twice.

Maybe some of my favorite stories include He Fixes Radios by Thinking! about how Feynman was working on technology and was astonishing people from an early age. Who Stole the Door? in which Feynman shows how funny he was and quite mischievous. And I also like Meeeeeeeee! where professor Feynman explores the effect of hypnosis on himself.

Then there is Monster Minds about when professor Feynman realizes that even though you might find yourself to be quite clever then there are always people around you that can astonish with their brilliant, quick and clever minds. And The Dignified Professor about how he spent his first night on a couch at the lobby of the Student Union at Cornell.

Finally I should mention An Offer You Must Refuse about how some offers may actually provide you with what you dream of but you have to decline because they may not be good for you. And Thirteen Times about how professor Feynman challenged the red tape by accepting to do a lecture at a local city college as long as he wouldn't have to sign his name more than thirteen times. It turned out that that was hardly possible.

In addition there are many more about how he trains ants and cracks safes but I also like very much how he gives an insight into what physics is and how it may not always be an "exact" science, especially I got that from his "7%" story. Anyways, for the complete stories as they are told by the Nobel Prize winner himself, go buy the book at Amazon.

If there is a moral in the book maybe it's to always look at the bright side and have a positive view of life. And especially to enjoy life as much as you can no matter what. This is a very good book to read just before you go to sleep because as I said it is a set of small stories that can be read one per evening without loosing the general thread. And it also puts you into a good place before you fall a sleep. What more can you ask for?

When writing this blog I found the official Richard Feynman website Feynman Online and from there I stumbled onto the website on The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which is said to be perhaps the most popular physics book ever written. So, after having read the "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" I guess the natural next step is to read the "Lectures". So I think Richard is still right when he said...

"I ain't dead yet!" -Richard Feynman.