Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Call

Looks like somebody found the asterisk in the world neutrino speed record and has put forth a case as to why the observation that neutrinos are faster than light has a huge hole in it:

In the original experiment, called OPERA, scientists measured how long it took for particles called neutrinos created at CERN to arrive at the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy.  The distance between the laboratories (roughly 454 miles), and the fact that Gran Sasso is located underneath quite a bit of mountain, complicated the experiment since synchronizing two clocks in different locations is extremely difficult. In order to account for this, the scientists relied on the time signal from an orbiting GPS satellite. Using this benchmark, the researchers found that the neutrino arrived 60 nanoseconds earlier than light would.

However, it’s this reliance on an orbital clock that van Elburg says is causing the results observed in the OPERA experiment. The way the OPERA scientists structured the experiment, they assumed that their GPS-syncronized clocks would function as if they were on the ground. However, those clocks are receiving a signal from an orbiting satellite, which is moving in reference to the Earth. This creates two frames of reference for the experiment, and not one, says van Elburg.

When it comes to relativity, frame of reference is everything. The satellite in this experiment was moving from West to East, tilted 55ยบ in reference to the equator. Taken from this vantage point, the distance between the source of the neutrinos at CERN and the detector in Italy are actually changing. The excellent Physics arXiv blog at MIT’s Technology Review quotes van Elburg as saying, “From the perspective of the clock, the detector is moving towards the source and consequently the distance travelled by the particles as observed from the clock is shorter.”

Van Elburg says that this would throw off the experiment’s timing by 32 nanoseconds on each end of the experiment, for a total of roughly 64 nanoseconds of error in the experiment overall. This would mean that neutrino speed is quite similar to that of light, but not faster.

Yeah.  Oops.  That's going to be a bit of a problem there, folks.  Shame, I was hoping the numbers would have held up through this, but now there's a perfectly good explanation as to why it appeared like neutrinos were faster than light: the clock was moving too.

There goes my warp engine design.

We Need To Buy Better Senators, Sir

The funniest thing about the NY Times' "Let the 99% eat cake" piece this weekend is this part here:

Some on Wall Street viewed the protesters with disdain, and a degree of caution, as hundreds marched through the financial district on Friday. Others say they feel their pain, but are befuddled about what they are supposed to do to ease it. A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude.

“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”

He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said. 

I can't think of a better example of how Wall Street works politically, can you?  "We bought these Senators fair and square.  How come they're backing these dirty effing hippies?  They need to stay bought, dammit.  That's how it works in America."

It's not the 99% they're blaming either, but Congress.  It's like they expect the candidate with the most money to win and then pay industry back with sweetheart laws or something, and that Wall Street needs Congress.  Boy if these 99% guys ever figure out they can vote, Wall Street's in real trouble, huh.  The captains of industry should probably work hard to prevent that from happening by making it harder to vote so these hippies don't get ideas that their opinion matters.

If you thought voter suppression was the top GOP priority before, it just got super fast-tracked in the wake of Occupy Together.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune knows why Cain's been pulling ahead recently:

He's the "get out of racism jail free" card for the Tea Party, and they know it.

StupidiNews! Hollywood Rumor Edition

Next year, 2012, is the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth with many events being planned around the world. This week Warner Bros outbid other companies for the script of a biopic based on Turing's life.

Alan Turing the British mathematician, logician and computer scientist who used all of these skills to help decrypt the Nazi codes during World War II, is now recognised as a hero.

This wasn't always the case. For many years Turing's achievements were overshadowed by the fact that he was a criminally prosecuted homosexual, who had undergone both chemical castration and psychiatric treatment before he committed suicide.

The story has unlimited potential, illustrating the genius of the subject, putting homosexuality in context for his time, and a recounting of how many brilliant men and women it took for us to win World War II. But please, for the love of all that is holy, get it right. Don't make it too much about any one aspect for fear that the others be overshadowed and the story become unbalanced. There is so much to this man that a single movie will have a lot to work with, but I am afraid it will take a wobble and try to focus too much on his sexuality or lose him altogether in the history happening all around him.

Several sources say old Leo DiCaprio himself is being considered for the role.  That would be

Still, more to come if the story develops.

Solving The Bank Fee Problem

Resolving the problem with banks charging ridiculous fees is pretty easy when you think about it.  Go to a different bank.  We are free to vote with our feet, and giants like Bank of America tend to forget that we can go somewhere else for our services. runs an excellent article reminding us that consumers still have the power to drive the market.

And where will they take their business? Obviously, to financial institutions that aren’t charging all kinds of outrageous and unnecessary fees. Plenty of bank customers are doing just this right now.

According to DailyFinance, online banks are booming in the aftermath of new fees being added by Bank of America and others. PerkStreet Financial, an online-only bank with no-fee checking and debit cards that aren’t only free but offer 2% cash rewards as well, has been blessed with double the usual number of new customer signups this week.

Meanwhile, small banks and credit unions all over the country have launched advertising campaigns highlighting that, unlike some big banks, they don’t charge for things like checking accounts and debit card usage. One bank in Texas has even begun paying customers 15¢ each time they swipe their debit cards.
Much like we forget as citizens that we rule government, as consumers we forget that if we follow the good deals, good deals will be made to bring in growth.  The picture is from my own bank, which made me recall this article.

Not Making A Single Bit Of Sense

GOP Clown Car crewmember Rick Santorum has figured out how to save our economy:  marry off all the single mothers.

“Look at the political base of the Democratic Party: it is single mothers who run a household,” he said on the American Family Association’s radio show Today’s Issues.

“Why? Because it’s so tough economically that they look to the government for help and therefore they’re going to vote. So if you want to reduce the Democratic advantage, what you want to do is build two parent families, you eliminate that desire for government.”

Yeah that's right, Rick Santorum is blaming the economy on unwed single mothers, who of course only vote in order to further drain the resources of hard working men, the succubi they all are or something.  Gosh, if we got rid of single moms, America would be great again.

“We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage, that has fathers take responsibility for their children,” he said.

“You can’t have limited government — you can’t have a wealthy society if the family breaks down, that basic unit of society. And that needs to be included in this economic discussion.”

Is this the part where I mention GOP Rep. Joe Walsh being a deadbeat dad who owes his wife and kids more than a hundred grand while loaning his campaign tens of thousands of dollars?  If only we could be more like upright, family oriented Republicans like Newt Gingrich, eh?   Would also help if Republicans stopped blocking efforts to equalize gender pay so that women can earn more, but that's apparently not crossed their minds either.

Nope, easier to blame women.

On The Road Again

President Obama's latest effort to push his jobs plan is a bus tour through my home state of North Carolina and neighboring Virginia starting today.

White House officials said Sunday that Obama will use every stop of the bus trip to press lawmakers in Washington to pass parts of his $447 billion jobs package. Senate Republicans last week blocked the full package from advancing, but Obama has said he'll continue to push recalcitrant Republicans to pass individual pieces of the legislation.

"I'm going to travel all over the country over the next few weeks so that we can remind Congress that's their job," he said during his weekend radio address, taped at a Detroit GM plant. "There's still time to create jobs and grow our economy right now. There's still time for Congress to do the right thing. We just need to act."

The trip comes as recent polls show Obama with some of the lowest ratings of his presidency, but Congress polls even lower and at least one poll suggests that voters like the jobs bill — and taxing the wealthiest Americans to pay for it.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 30 percent of those polled in favor of the bill, with 22 percent opposed and 44 percent with no opinion. When the parts of the bill were explained, 63 percent favored passage.

"The American people support every single plank of that bill, and we're going to vote on every single one of them," Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod said on ABC's This week.

But House Republican Majority leader Eric Cantor, whose district Obama visited last month pushing for his jobs package, suggested on Fox News Sunday that Obama should "stop the campaigning. Let's go find the things that are in common between (the GOP) plan and his."

Funny, last time I checked it was Congress's job to legislate and the President's job to either sign bills into law or veto them.  The President of course will sign his jobs bill into law, but the Republicans have zero intention of passing any jobs legislation that the President can sign.  Zero.

We've already established long ago that the GOP plan is to ignore the economy and blame Barack Obama for it.  And it's worked for them so far.  But this time with 63% of the country wanting to see the bill passed when they find out what's in it?  It's not going to work, and the GOP knows it.  They only want to compromise when they know they've lost.

Good for the President to take his case to the people.


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