Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Higgs Live!

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  • Ross Mason, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He seems to see the Higgs breakthrough as a return to proper Man Science.

    As our greatest Man Rutherford said:

    "All science is either physics or stamp collecting."

    But he also added another which obviously has much to do with this discussion:

    "An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid."

    and for the beggars in NZ science:

    We've got no money, so we've got to think.

    Wiki sourced to remind me of the exact words!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    He takes it all back to his last year at school, in 1969, when a lady teacher enthused to the class about ecology. He seems to see the Higgs breakthrough as a return to proper Man Science.

    I sometimes wonder if he’s trying to be some kind of spiritual successor to Owen McShane & Co. And not just on ecological issues.

    We’ve got no money, so we’ve got to think.

    Instead it's "we've got no money, so we've got to drill."

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • richard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Who knows where that knowledge will lead? Next they will work out how to control the particle, then they will remove it to enable things – people – to travel at the speed necessary to explore the galaxy.

    Wow. Who knew? (Where did this come from -- I mean it comes from the Herald, but where did Roughan get this idea from?)

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    "Two sevens"

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to richard,

    Wow. Who knew? (Where did this come from – I mean it comes from the Herald, but where did Roughan get this idea from?)

    Where Roughan gets his ideas from is an enduring mystery.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    John Roughan weighs in

    And he’s got his space-cadet uniform on, ready!:

    In that moment a 48-year theory became a fact. The glimpse of the ‘Higgs boson’, or something like it, allows minds to boggle on the existence of “dark matter” and the possibility there really is a dimension to the world that is beyond human sensory perception.

    Who knows where that knowledge will lead? Next they will work out how to control the particle, then they will remove it to enable things – people – to travel at the speed necessary to explore the galaxy.

    And then leaps fully into orbit:

    I remember my heart sank, not so much that the world was being damaged but that it was being diminished. Suddenly we were no longer a puny lifeform amid nature’s grandeur, we were monsters and nature was at our mercy.

    Since then, this idea has been so embedded in our consciousness that to question it invites ridicule. Yet every time I’m close to an ocean or flying above continents I still feel minuscule. The lights of great cities from the sky at night look like lonely settlements in the dark.

    Perhaps if I went as far as astronauts began to go in the 1960s and looked back at the planet as they did, I would have shared their new-found sense of its fragility. But their celebrated photographs didn’t give me that impression. Mother Earth didn’t look vulnerable to me, she looked large, fertile and magnificent.

    So there you go. The Higgs boson disproves climate change. Thank goodness we’ve got Roughan to explain the science to us.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Roughan is a driller and a miner. Maybe he too has succumbed to the idea that science and technology are one and the same. Far from it. Environmentalism attacked the use of technology with no regard to the environment. It wasn't the science that was the problem. It is the usual problem of how we use it.

    His high school experience was different to mine. I go my damascus happening when I argued what the hell was one more supersonic airliner going to do with all that sky? The rebuke I got from one of my fellow students suddenly struck a chord and from then on I had this fascination to try and discover consequences.

    As for the moon sunrise suggesting we were giants. Shit. It brought home the fact that we were on one small blue ball in an unfathomably ginormous universe and we are much much less than a pimple on the arse of it. And, I have this wee suspicion that It doesn't give a razoo about us either. But that is athiest talk. Rational but.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The main threat to the environment from fusion, however is that it will take many years to perfect (it’s been 50+ years away for as long as I can remember). If we factor it in as an energy source, that means we don’t scrap Huntly and the various gas-fired generators as soon as we could. Which will be somewhere between bad and terminal, depending on if you live on the coast or in the way of an oil war.

    I don't see this as an either/or situation, though, why would it be? Surely we should work on all the alternative energy-sources we can?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Where Roughan gets his ideas from is an enduring mystery.

    The Prosperity Gospel, methinks?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Where Roughan gets his ideas from . . .

    Facebook, set in Zapfino?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Lilith __,

    I remember my heart sank, not so much that the world was being damaged but that it was being diminished. Suddenly we were no longer a puny lifeform amid nature’s grandeur, we were monsters and nature was at our mercy.

    I find it fascinating how he’s managed to miss, mmm, all of popular science for the last thirty years, which has largely emphasised why the grand and merciless scale of the universe obliges us to be careful with the one bit of it that we’re adapted to survive in.

    As our greatest Man Rutherford said:

    “All science is either physics or stamp collecting.”

    Mathematicians disagree.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    RB:

    Where Roughan gets his ideas from is an enduring mystery.

    JW:

    Facebook, set in Zapfino?

    Further to my point, maybe Scientology?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Further to my point, maybe Scientology?

    Might be, though he reminds me of a nasty libertarian (is there any other kind?) that it was once my misfortune to work for. The kind of guy who'd screw you over for a dollar while including a photocopy of Desiderata in your pay packet ("That poem means so much to me").

    There's a particularly creepy co-relation between advocating shooting taggers and spouting cod-philosophy.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Facebook, set in Zapfino?

    Good god, man -- I'm trying to eat my lunch. Nearly choked from laughing!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The Prosperity Gospel

    The Rules of Acquisition?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Scientology

    or perhaps that inherently unscientific belief system: atheism.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Might be, though he reminds me of a nasty libertarian (is there any other kind?) that it was once my misfortune to work for. The kind of guy who’d screw you over for a dollar while including a photocopy of Desiderata in your pay packet (“That poem means so much to me”).

    Given your locality, he might have been a ZAPper.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5439 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lilith __,

    We already have the ability to get NZ to 100% renewable electricity and beyond using existing, off-the-shelf, technology and identified (wind/hydro/geothermal) sites.

    The only reason we're burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is political (lower initial prices, higher profits and sheer pig-headed destructiveness). Pretending that if we wait, some panacea will be just around the corner is just a convenient excuse.

    Sure, we should contribute to ITER, but not pretend that it'll be good for anything practical before the 22nd or 23rd century.

    Also, thorium. Another pseudo-panacea, and a convenient excuse for India to keep it's nuke programme going.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    we should contribute to ITER, but not pretend that it’ll be good for anything practical before the 22nd or 23rd century

    Well, it might not be...but who would have thought we'd find the Higgs? Uncertainty's in the nature of research, isn't it?

    And as for putting more hydro dams and wind farms in...there are significant environmental impacts from those. I know there are environmental impacts from continuing to dig and burn coal too, but I don't think swapping one for the other is a good solution.

    What of tidal power, and solar? They seem to me to have greater potential and lower environmental impact than wind or hydro.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Given your locality, he might have been a ZAPper.

    Happened in Australia, though like anyone who's spent time in this neck of the woods I have a ZAPper anecdote or two. A surprisingly lethal cult, given its emphasis on overcoming bodily limitations.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lilith __,

    A wind farm has negligible impact on any native species (and on any non-native ones other than snotty homo sapiens worried about their view). The sheep grazing around the foot of the turbines are much more detrimental to the environment. Not to mention that, when a better solution comes along (if it should) it can be carted away and recycled.

    Hydro has more impact, but it's totally localised and doesn't compare, even slightly, to the impact of climate change. A lot of the hydro we need to balance wind can be built on existing sites, e.g. pumped storage on current hydro schemes.

    It's all very well considering emerging technologies like solar PV, but essentially you're creating another delaying factor (and people will then object to those ugly PV arrays all over Northland, and the tidal barrages harming the fish and taniwha, and the energy used in producing PV, etc).

    NZ has a wonderful opportunity here. If we build out 100% wind/hydro/geothermal in the next 10 years (which is eminently feasible) we've taken a big step to decoupling our economy from resource exhaustion. Isn't that better than holding out for mirages?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I largely agree with you, Rich, but is solar really such a mirage? Solar water heating is very common around these parts, to the point where villages in my wife's home county have 100% solar public bath houses. I also see PV panels sitting on top of lamp posts, traffic lights, railway signals, etc, all over the place. There's also a solar power tower under construction in my wife's home county - on misty days out there I've seen beams of light from heliostats around the base focussing on where the top of the tower is going to be, so I pity the poor buggers building it, they're going to cook when the tower gets that high.

    I dunno, I'm not an engineer or scientist, and I'm happy for solar to be termed an emerging technology, but I'm seeing far too much of it in use or under construction for the term 'mirage' to fit.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    The numbers are summarised here.

    For *grid* generation, wind looks like maybe 60% of the cost of solar PV. Wide disparities of course - much of NZ is fairly windy and cloudy. Australia would, one might expect, be one of the first places for which solar PV would be economical. I'm sure China has similar areas.

    For off-grid, it's a completely different story. We've also got solar powered parking meters, traffic signs and the like. If you've got enough north-facing roof space, solar hot water (another proven technology) is a great idea.

    But we should be making a plan now, on basis of things you can order right now.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    A wind farm has negligible impact on any native species (and on any non-native ones other than snotty homo sapiens worried about their view). The sheep grazing around the foot of the turbines are much more detrimental to the environment. Not to mention that, when a better solution comes along (if it should) it can be carted away and recycled.

    Hydro has more impact, but it’s totally localised and doesn’t compare, even slightly, to the impact of climate change. A lot of the hydro we need to balance wind can be built on existing sites, e.g. pumped storage on current hydro schemes.

    PV arrays all over Northland, and the tidal barrages harming the fish and taniwha, and the energy used in producing PV, etc).

    Solar PV is not an emerging technology. It’s been used commercially since the 1950s.

    Solar thermal also has a long history, and research is ongoing.

    Wind farms may have a contribution to make, but they are noisy and I don’t think there’s much point destroying the beauty of our unique landscapes with them. And as for potentially dismantling them in the future – they require hundreds of cubic metres of concrete poured into holes in the ground to support them. Once that concrete’s gone in, I don’t see it coming out again, ever.

    Tidal power’s already being worked on in NZ, in Cook Strait and the Kaipara Harbour. Both these locations are in deep water, invisible on the surface and with only a small environmental impact. They have real potential for large-scale power generation.

    Do you have any sources saying that our existing hydro storage can be expanded on current sites? I’d be interested to see that if you do.

    NZ has a wonderful opportunity here. If we build out 100% wind/hydro/geothermal in the next 10 years (which is eminently feasible) we’ve taken a big step to decoupling our economy from resource exhaustion.

    Energy independence for NZ would be a wonderful thing, no doubt the new foreign owners of our power-generating companies will have a good chuckle about that. [I know that's not your point, Rich, but it would be a sad irony, eh?]

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    we should be making a plan now, on basis of things you can order right now.

    I disagree. We should be making both short-term plans and long-term plans. The longer-term plans will involve a variety of contingencies. Unless we continue the research, both plans will look the same.

    I firmly believe that research and development is our friend.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

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