How Many Higgs Bosons Does It Take To Screw-in a Light Bulb?

The comedian, Jim Carey, posed this question to the world-renowned cosmologist/physicist Stephen Hawking shortly after the discovery of said particle in 2012.

Aurora Borealis Over Lake Diana on Quebec’s Tundra

The comedian, Jim Carey, posed this question to the world-renowned cosmologist/physicist Stephen Hawking shortly after the discovery of said particle in 2012. Hawking was unable to answer this question. In case you are not current on your particle physics, you will find a brief explanation of the Higgs boson, here. But it is really quite simple. Higgs is a short-lived particle that sets up a field that determines the mass and characteristics of all other sub-atomic particles.

Here is another question for you. How much scientific data documenting climate change is necessary to mount a global policy to limit greenhouse gases to meet the +1.5o C goal by 2050? This is an irrelevant question. Although governments and people love science that produces things they like, most people want governments to take care of their immediate interests and lifestyles.

By the way, regarding the above photo, Auroras are caused by magnetic storms on the Sun that pull on the Earth’s magnetic field, causing the excitation of electrons in our upper atmosphere that release light. You will find this explained in more detail, here. Oh, and Carey’s question is also irrelevant because Higgs bosons do not screw-in light bulbs.

The First Coke Fired Blast Furnace

My late wife and I traveled to the UK in the mid-nineties to meet friends. Among the many things we saw was the original coke fired blast furnace from the late eighteenth century at the Museum of Iron that was used to refine pig iron at a much lower cost than using charcoal. This helped pave the way for England’s rapid industrial expansion during the nineteenth century, and further eroded England’s landed aristocracy by the capitalists. As more farmers migrated to the cities for work the face of poverty changed with a host of new social problems including pollution, greater disease due to crowding, and unemployment.

Putting aside the long-running debates about whether communism, democratic socialism, or capitalism is the best form of government for industrialized societies, this blast furnace aided the production of evermore goods and had a positive impact on much of England’s, and later other, populations (e.g., more food, better housing, and eventually, better public health). This led to greater inequality with a rising middle-class and greater profits for industrialists. Nevertheless, no one from the working-class to the one percent wants to return to the pre-industrial era. Industrialization is seductive.

Human population began a more rapid expansion as a result of greater access to energy and discovery, then exploding in the twentieth century. You can see this expansion of population and production in the two charts, below. Unfortunately, near vertical curves are not sustainable.

You know the rest, we have destroyed much of our environment and warmed the air and waters such that we are now in the sixth extinction, which will more adversely affect us as the twenty-first century unfolds. We are already seeing the following consequences of industrialization and climate change.

Yes, we should continue our pursuit of renewable energy, but we must cut back production and come to terms with a much lower standard of living–micro-industrialization. If we do not, nature will do it for us. It is still possible but it is not looking good.

Your comments.

The Athabasca Glacier

Glaciers feed rivers and rivers provide communities with water. As these glaciers disappear, so will the communities that depend on them.

A friend of mine recently went on a rail trip into the Canadian Rockies where he took a great shot along the Athabasca River near the glacier of the same name. As you can see, there is lots of snow and ice on the peaks. Or is there?

Athabasca River, courtesy: Robert DePuyt

We all now know that glaciers around the world are melting, so I decided to see if there is a good historical and recent photo of this glacier from the same position. In fact there is. Again, from the satellite photo on the left it looks like there is lots of ice. But seen from ground-level in the comparisons on the right it is clear that the glacier has drastically receded (and certainly more so during the eleven years since). Glaciers feed rivers and rivers provide communities with water. As these glaciers disappear, so will the communities that depend on them.

I’m just beginning to plan a trip to Ilulissat, Greenland next spring to photograph calving glaciers. I would love to hear from anyone who has photographed glaciers to tell me about their experience.

Osprey Chics Growing UP Fast

It has been a few weeks since I’ve visited their nest. There I saw and heard two chics screaming for more food. They seem to like the fish dinners.

It has been a few weeks since I’ve visited their nest. There I saw and heard two chics screaming for more food. They seem to like the fish dinners. Clearly, they had both parents out scrambling. Still, the parents kept a close eye on the chics. I could see one of the parents return from over the river (empty taloned) and circling high overhead looking for any aerial or ground predators, then returning to the river to hunt down the fish. The chics look to be ready to fledge soon.

You will find today’s shots in the first seventeen photos of my online gallery.


Osprey Chics

A Trip to the University of Maine Gardens

Insects are getting harder to find, except those that bite us and get into our food supplies.

Silver-spotted Skipper

A walk through the gardens this morning did not reveal as many insects as I would have liked. Insects are just getting harder to find, except those that bite us and get into our food supplies. As for the rest, we are destroying their habitat and food sources with farming and pesticides use. Like them or not, they are a vital element to our biosphere. Evolution says so.

Meanwhile, temperatures and humidity are on the rise today, ushering in our first heat wave, beginning tomorrow. Europe and South Asia are baking as I write this. London is forecast to hit 104o F soon?!

You will find more of today’s photos with the first seven photos at my on-line gallery.

Wanted

Wanted for a series of garden capers, including the organized trafficking of fresh garden vegetables.

Woodchuck (AKA Bucky the Chucky)

Height: 12 inches, weight about 8 pounds. Toothed and considered dangerous.

Wanted for a series of garden capers, including the organized trafficking of fresh garden vegetables. Contact animal control if you have any information as to his whereabouts. Do not approach.

Last seen in Portland, Maine.

Ruby Ruby, Ruby Will You Be Mine . . . .


I found this pair over at the Audubon center today. You can see more of these two at my on-line gallery.

The James Webb Telescope: First Image

Stars are born with the compression of hydrogen which gravity compresses until the point of fusion. From there on, heavier elements are created.

One portion of our universe 13.7 billion years ago (Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI)

Those disks you see are galaxies, each with 100-400 billion stars. The arcs of light are distended galaxies, the result of gravitational lensing caused by the bending of space/time and light by both visible and dark matter (explained by general relativity). Most of these stars (except the smallest) have likely burnt out or went supernova eons ago. Stars are born with the compression of hydrogen which gravity compresses until the point of fusion. From there on, heavier elements are created. The larger the star, the heavier the elements it can produce–up to iron. The heavier elements cast from supernovas are what led to the matter that pervades the universe. Our planet and our bodies are all descendants of giant stars.

Humans: A Paper Thin memory?

Snowy Owl–IUCN Redlist: Vulnerable

Here is a six minute PBS clip* highlighting how we are destroying the biosphere on which most current life depends. All this only since about 1850, with most changes within the past thirty years. Time is running out.

* PBS Passport may be required to open this clip.

%d bloggers like this: