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Robert McPherson
Particle physicist
Particle physicist
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ATLAS at the LHC sees our first beam "splash" events in 2016. We're back in operation.
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I couldn't agree more ...

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ATLAS and the LHC are back in business! Just had first high energy collisions from the LHC in ATLAS. We're back in business after our long two year shutdown, running at nearly twice the energy and soon at much higher intensities.
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03/06/2015
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His imagination and humour made a unique package. He will be missed.



British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has died, with tweets posted to his Twitter account in the style of deathly passages from one of his hilarious books.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/terry-pratchett-best-selling-fantasy-author-dead-at-66-1.2992120

Sent via the CBC News Android App



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A rather balanced article on the issue of CERN association for non member states by Burt Richter.

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PR seems to matter, even in science, doesn't it?

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The "BEHHGK" boson just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

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I recall when so-called "cold-fusion" was claimed in 1989 or-so. In Vancouver, then TRIUMF director Eric Vogt was a local solid voice of reason, pointing out in a Vancouver Sun op-ed piece that we really did understand very generally the ways that fusion could occur in the fantastically well tested formalist called quantum mechanics, and we could estimate with strong confidence the probability of fusion occurring in the experimental setup being used at that time (a palladium electrode, if I recall). Eric strongly supported, and supports, basic research and challenges to the so-called laws of physics -- but sometimes we know that, for example, if someone bounces a tennis ball on a street in Vancouver and claims that it rebounded up and over Grouse Mountain on one hop that they have very likely misunderstood something rather fundamental about what they saw.

In the past few days, Eric has been quoted regarding the possibility of fusion occurring in a local company's setup: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/2011/10/03/bc-fusion-energy-project.html
I admit that, when I read the article, I was skeptical, particularly because of the distinct misunderstanding of fusion demonstrated by the head of the company. However, as a scientist, I always attempt to suspend my skepticism and consider the claims being made.

Be clear: fusion is not "safe". It produces significant numbers of (difficult to shield and dangerous) neutrons, and also short-lived radioactive byproducts that live up to a decade or so and are dangerous if ingested, breathed in, etc. Don't get me wrong, fusion is a highly desirable form of energy production because it does not produce long-lived (scale of thousands of years) waste like conventional fission reactors, but anyone who would stand beside a running fusion reactor does not understand how it works at all. Eric's description of the possibilities are unassailable: it's unlikely to work, and if it does work (meaning create fusion) then there will be a large number of short-lived and dangerous radioactive byproducts, and whether or not it works the description of the apparatus sound like a prescription for a conventional (non nuclear) accident that should spark the interest of the BC workers' compensation board. Responsible scientists and engineers can only laud Eric Vogt's willingness to speak out responsibly, and should all do the same. It is part of our job, especially those of us who are publicly funded researchers working for the benefit of Canadian society.
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