Links for 2012-02-15

  • Proton Collisions Vs. Quark/Gluon/Antiquark Mini-Collisions | Of Particular Significance

    Keep in mind that the total number of 7 TeV = 7000 GeV proton-proton collisions that took place in ATLAS while they were accumulating the data for the plot above was about 100,000,000,000,000. [The total 2011 data set was 5 times larger, but the corresponding plot won't appear for a few months.] Of all these collisions, just two had mini-collisions that passed above 3500 GeV — half the collision energy of the protons. In principle the energy of the mini-collisions can go up all the way to 7000 GeV, but the probability goes down and down, and it is so rare to get a 6000 GeV mini-collision that chances are we wouldn’t get one even with 100 times this much data.

  • Why fancy illustrations are so wrong | All that matters

    Nanotechnology is a wonderful science that has pushed functional devices to sizes not far away from the size of atoms. So small that if you want to image such structures, even a conventional electron microscope wouldn’t get you far. There is no way to directly see what is going on. This is a common problem. Take condensed matter physics – it is impossible to directly visualize the various interactions and events taking place inside a crystal. Or photonics, where complex light fields interact with tiny nanostructures in ways that can be really difficult to visualize, especially in real-time. So, no wonder that artificial graphics often serve to illustrate a scientific concept or a certain device. And with the prevalence of advanced computer graphics programs such illustrations are becoming more and more fancy. In my opinion, this is a dangerous trend, because such graphics increasingly distort the underlying science they try to depict.

  • The Jeremy Lin Backlash – Ta-Nehisi Coates – Entertainment – The Atlantic

    It does not take incredible reasoning skills to understand that race and talent–as explanatory factors–are not mutually exclusive. In other words, it could that Jeremy Lin is Asian, and that he’s talented. But I suspect that it’s that Lin is Asian-American, and that he’s not a big man, and that he’s playing in New York, and that he went to Harvard, and that he was undrafted, and that he is talented. It’s true that if he were black this would probably be a smaller story, but if he weren’t talented it would not be be a story at all. I’m not sure why that’s wrong, or even unfair.