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A vast cavern is the stage for tests to find the 'God particle'
The Times ^

Posted on 06/09/2003 6:11:13 AM PDT by andy224

Atlas holds key to scientists' map of Universe By Mark Henderson A vast cavern is the stage for tests to find the 'God particle'

SCIENTISTS have taken a step closer to finding the “God particle” that is thought to shape the Universe. In a concrete cavern 130ft deep and bigger than the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, they will mimic the high-energy conditions that existed fractions of a second after the Big Bang to study a beam of energy a quarter of the thickness of a human hair.

The vast Atlas cavern, which was completed last week at Cern, the European nuclear physics laboratory on the Franco-Swiss border, will house parts of a giant atom-smasher that is expected to solve the most elusive riddle in physics.

When the £1.5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is switched on in 2007, it will determine once and for all whether the Higgs boson, a mysterious fundamental particle held to give matter its mass, really exists. If the machine finds the boson, proposed by Professor Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University in 1964, it will prove that the Standard Model for the nature of the Universe is correct. If not, the maxims of modern physics will be thrown into disarray.

The boson was nicknamed the “God particle” by the Nobel laureate Leon Lederman for its centrality to the cosmos. Although it will be so small that its presence can only be calculated, not seen, the search for it requires some of the largest and most advanced scientific instruments designed.

The LHC itself is a ring 17 miles (27km) in circumference, buried up to 100m (330ft) underground, through which streams of protons will be bent by the world’s most powerful magnets and smashed into each other at close to the speed of light.

The new cavern, which will house the Atlas detector for tracking the Higgs and other particles, is 40m (130ft) deep, 55m (180ft) long and 35m (115ft) wide.

However, the proton beam that runs through both devices measures just 10 microns in diameter: less than a quarter of the thickness of the average human hair. Roger Cashmore, a British physicist and Cern’s director of research, said: “It is an astonishing feat of engineering. The consultants were on the verge of saying it was impossible to build. But the Atlas cavern is finished, the biggest of its kind in the world, and these experiments are going to tell us whether we’re right about the Universe.”

The current best guide to the nature of the Universe is the Standard Model, an elegant theory that describes how most particles and forces interact. The Higgs boson is its missing keystone: without it, there is no good explanation for why matter has mass and therefore exists.

According to the theory, the Universe is permeated by a field of Higgs bosons, which consist of mass but very little else. As particles move through the field, they interact with it like a ball dropped into a tub of treacle, getting slower, stickier and heavier. Their ultimate mass depends on the strength of the interaction.

Though mathematics predicts its existence, the Higgs boson has never been detected. It is so heavy that the biggest atom-smashers, Cern’s Large Electron-Positron collider (LEP) and the Tevatron at Fermilab in Illinois, have been unable to generate the high energy collisions needed to reveal it, although they have found hints that it is probably there. This is where the LHC comes in. It is 70 times as powerful as the LEP and seven times stronger than the Tevatron, covering all the energy values at which the Higgs might exist. If it is there, it will find it.

What is more, if the “God particle” proves to be a false deity, the LHC will unlock the secret of what is out there instead. “If it doesn’t find the Higgs, it will find what substitutes for it,” Dr Cashmore said.

Jim Virdee, Professor of Physics at Imperial College, London, and a leading Cern researcher, said: “There has to be something else, beyond what we have found already, that explains mass. We believe it’s the Higgs, but Nature may be smarter than us. Either way, the results will tell us what is the right road.”

The atom-smasher will accelerate protons so close to the speed of light that they become 7,000 times heavier than normal. The beams are bent into a circle by superconducting magnets, cooled by liquid helium at -271.4C, almost a degree colder than outer space.

When the protons collide, they are destroyed in a huge burst of energy. This energy coalesces into very heavy particles, one of which scientists hope will be the Higgs.

As the boson is unstable, it will quickly decay, scattering a characteristic signature of smaller particles and energy. These will be picked up by the LHC’s eyes — the Atlas and a sister detector — which surround the collision points.

The detectors, which stand 22m (72ft) and 15m (49ft) tall respectively, are “giant microscopes” built like onions, with several layers of instruments that track particles and measure energy.

The experiments will generate enormous quantities of data, much of it unwanted. “Colliding two protons is like colliding two oranges,” Dr Lyn Evans, director of the LHC project, said. “You’ll occasionally get a collision between two pips, the interesting bits, but you’ll get a lot of pulp. We need to reject an enormous amount of data to pick out the important bits.” Professor Virdee said that the data generated in one second was the equivalent of what all the world’s telecommunications generated in one year.

Even if this wealth of information proves the existence of the Higgs boson, the LHC will continue to serve scientific knowledge for decades.

“Let’s say we have the Higgs,” Dr Cashmore said. “I’d feel warm and content for a few microseconds, then I’d be asking new questions. Why does it affect different particles in different ways? “It would be spectacularly good to find it — I’m not trying to knock it — but it will pose a whole new set of problems. If we are an inquisitive society, these are the things we ought to be doing."


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: blackholes; crevolist; higgsboson; stringtheory
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Cheap at any price, even £1.5 billion, to get us a little closer to understanding the universe.
1 posted on 06/09/2003 6:11:14 AM PDT by andy224
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To: andy224
Cheap at any price, even £1.5 billion, to get us a little closer to understanding the universe.

Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem proves that we will never be able to completely understand the universe.

So what's the point? </sarcasm>

2 posted on 06/09/2003 6:19:53 AM PDT by Reelect President Dubya (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: andy224
Interesting.

I'll be back later to read the comments of the offended.

3 posted on 06/09/2003 6:29:18 AM PDT by TomB
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To: Reelect President Dubya
Godel's Incompleteness Theorem merely states that, in any "omega-complete" formal system -- in layman's terms, a system of sufficient expressive generality and abstraction to describe its own operations and permit self-reference -- there are demonstrably true statements for which no proof exists within that system. But this is strictly a mathematical phenomenon, based on the rigid mathematical definition of a proof.

The classical proof of the Incompleteness Theorem involves:

  1. The lemma of arithmetization: that is, the demonstration that all omega-complete formal systems are isomorphic -- identical in their expressive scope, and that therefore, any of them can be substituted for any other without a loss of power.
  2. The construction of the statement "This statement has no proof," which we shall call Statement G, in an arithmetized form.
  3. The argument that Statement G must be true, since if it were false, it could be proved, and must therefore be true -- an unsustainable circular contradiction.
  4. Since Statement G is true, it has no proof. Q.E.D.

Fascinating stuff, but applicable only to the rigidly formal systems of mathematics, in which a proof is a highly specific entity with a prescribed form.

I know, mathematics is too tiresome for a Monday morning...(tee hee)

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason:
http://palaceofreason.com

4 posted on 06/09/2003 6:39:10 AM PDT by fporretto (Curmudgeon Emeritus, Palace of Reason)
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To: andy224
The ATLAS detector

"In other news, once the detector is up and running, researchers are planning to send Hillary Clinton's new book through and see if even the remotest possibility of truth is found in it."

5 posted on 06/09/2003 6:40:28 AM PDT by TomB
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
Particle physics. PING. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
6 posted on 06/09/2003 6:47:04 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: andy224
Meanwhile, near Waxahatchie, TX, developers try to find a use for a big underground hole that woulda been the SSC (Superconducting Supercollider).
7 posted on 06/09/2003 6:55:00 AM PDT by 19th LA Inf
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To: TomB
No not today my exams are finished and I'm feeling relaxed and GOOD today. Just got to unwind and enjoy a long summer! If i was a little touchy before, please accept an apology just slightly stressed these last weeks.
8 posted on 06/09/2003 7:06:15 AM PDT by andy224
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To: andy224
SPOTREP
9 posted on 06/09/2003 7:11:50 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: andy224
No apology andy, I wasn't referring to you.

You have FReepmail.

10 posted on 06/09/2003 7:12:39 AM PDT by TomB
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To: TomB
Trying to figure out what would offend someone about this?
11 posted on 06/09/2003 7:26:24 AM PDT by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
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To: Gary Boldwater; aruanan
This is wonderful! Just 100 years ago man was riding animals for tranportation. Just 40 years ago man flew into space. Just 30 years ago man walked on the moon. Today, scientists completely understand the beginnings of the universe!!
The greatest leap in all of science was in giving up its old ways. The old way required scientists to set out to disprove a theory (hypothesis), after relentless testing to prove it. One contradictory experiment could undo a whole theory (hypothesis). Today, that is no longer a concern. A single test proves a theory (not a hypothesis) and new dimensions and particles are created to explain any contradictions!
In the last 25 years, no man has set foot on the moon, orbital space travel is more dangerous than ever and third world countries may eclipse America's space achievements. We are not spending enough money on government science!

12 posted on 06/09/2003 7:37:20 AM PDT by Gary Boldwater (Government science is a contradiction in terms, politics and science don't mix.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Sounds like it'll be a few years before we get a result. Unless the French decide to surrender CERN.
13 posted on 06/09/2003 7:41:00 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: PatrickHenry
RWP memorial placemarker.
14 posted on 06/09/2003 8:10:51 AM PDT by js1138
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To: Gary Boldwater
Today, scientists completely understand the beginnings of the universe!!

Yes, but just one of many in this amazing multiverse. ;^)

15 posted on 06/09/2003 8:12:20 AM PDT by js1138
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To: Alamo-Girl; Phaedrus; betty boop; general_re; AndrewC; gore3000; Dataman; balrog666
an 'oops, I just saw this' ping
havent' read it yet, but the title is humorous enough
16 posted on 06/09/2003 8:13:40 AM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
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To: Reelect President Dubya
Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem proves that we will never be able to completely understand the universe.

No, Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem states that:
...within any rigidly logical mathematical system there are propositions (or questions) that cannot be proved or disproved on the basis of the axioms within that system and that, therefore, it is uncertain that the basic axioms of arithmetic will not give rise to contradictions.


One could paraphrase this to say that no one system is capable of fully elucidating the truths of the universe, but how many systems of human thought except for mathematics are rigidly logical?
17 posted on 06/09/2003 8:14:22 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: js1138
RWP memorial placemarker.

Right Wing Prof is opus'ed and gone? ALS and conservababblerJen are still able to delete threads by wandering in, pooping in the punchbowl, and screaming in faces? This really bites bad!

18 posted on 06/09/2003 8:16:09 AM PDT by VadeRetro
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To: Valin
Trying to figure out what would offend someone about this?

I'm thinking along the lines of using the word "God" and the general origins of the universe stuff. Usually a few creationists happen along a bemoan the waste of money at something so silly.

19 posted on 06/09/2003 8:21:16 AM PDT by TomB
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To: andy224
In a concrete cavern 130ft deep and bigger than the nave of Canterbury Cathedral, they will mimic the high-energy conditions that existed fractions of a second after the Big Bang to study a beam of energy a quarter of the thickness of a human hair.

This is cool and everything, even though I can't understand the application or the technology involved. I'm all for science. BUT - how do they know this thing will mimic the high-energy conditions that existed fractions of a second after the b-b? I don't know that they can make that comparison because there are no records of what the conditions of the b-b were.
20 posted on 06/09/2003 8:22:58 AM PDT by AD from SpringBay
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To: aruanan; Reelect President Dubya
I've just started rereading Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

I must admit I've started the book numerous times before only to toss it aside in frustration. My innate weakness in mathematics makes it very hard to plow through.

Anybody read it?

21 posted on 06/09/2003 8:38:16 AM PDT by TomB
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To: andy224
the Higgs boson, a mysterious fundamental particle held to give matter its mass,

A common misconception. The Higgs mechanism gives the fundamental particles (such as quarks and electrons) their masses, but most of the mass we see comprises protons and neutrons, whose mass arises primarily from quantum chromodynamics. (Dark matter, which dominates over the "baryonic" matter I mentioned, may or may not get its mass from the Higgs mechanism.)

22 posted on 06/09/2003 8:38:29 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: TomB
Anybody read it?

I did. It was a creative and nicely illustrated grinding of a philosophical ax.
23 posted on 06/09/2003 8:40:10 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: TomB
Anybody read it?

Yes, but can't claim to have followed all of it.

24 posted on 06/09/2003 8:45:11 AM PDT by js1138
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To: andy224
"God" particle, indeed. What nonsense.
25 posted on 06/09/2003 8:51:34 AM PDT by Phaedrus
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To: AD from SpringBay
BUT - how do they know this thing will mimic the high-energy conditions that existed fractions of a second after the b-b? I don't know that they can make that comparison because there are no records of what the conditions of the b-b were.

Good question.

They can because the direct observations we make of the early universe place very tight constraints on what the conditions of the very early universe could possibly have been. The conditions are so incredibly tight, in fact, that for many years they were considered to pose a philosophical problem for physics: how was it possible that conditions in the Big Bang were so "finely tuned" that the universe ended up the way it did? If you make a change in even the 50th decimal place, up or down, in any of a number of variables, you get either runaway expansion or nearly immediate collapse.

Nowadays we don't worry about that problem, because the theory of Inflationary Cosmology accounts for that exquisite balance. This model also makes a number of extremely detailed predictions about the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, and these preditions have been verified in stunning detail by recent observations with the WMAP probe.

So we're confident that Inflation is reasonably close to the truth. From there, inferring the conditions close to the Big Bang is a matter of straightforward calculation. If those conditions had been ever so slightly different, the universe would look very different from the way it does now.

26 posted on 06/09/2003 8:54:25 AM PDT by Physicist
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To: PatrickHenry
OK--help out a non-physicist, please. First I read that:

According to the theory, the Universe is permeated by a field of Higgs bosons,...

Then I read that:

As the boson is unstable, it will quickly decay...

How can the Universe be permeated by a field of unstable, rapidly decaying particles?

27 posted on 06/09/2003 9:04:43 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Physicist
Please see my post #27
28 posted on 06/09/2003 9:05:18 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: 19th LA Inf
Meanwhile, near Waxahatchie, TX, developers try to find a use for a big underground hole that woulda been the SSC (Superconducting Supercollider).

How about we shove about 50 Texas Democratic State Reps in it and then backfill?

29 posted on 06/09/2003 9:06:38 AM PDT by HoustonCurmudgeon (PEACE - Through Superior Firepower)
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To: Valin
Trying to figure out what would offend someone about this?

PLEASE! Someone can be found who is offended by anything that is posted. ;-)

30 posted on 06/09/2003 9:09:29 AM PDT by HoustonCurmudgeon (PEACE - Through Superior Firepower)
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To: 19th LA Inf
Dibs on the secret underground lair!
31 posted on 06/09/2003 9:16:05 AM PDT by Saturnalia (My name is Matt Foley and I live in a VAN down by the RIVER.)
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To: Reelect President Dubya
The proof of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem is so simple, and so sneaky, that it is almost embarassing to relate. His basic procedure is as follows:

Someone introduces Gödel to a UTM, a machine that is supposed to be a Universal Truth Machine, capable of correctly answering any question at all.

Gödel asks for the program and the circuit design of the UTM. The program may be complicated, but it can only be finitely long. Call the program P(UTM) for Program of the Universal Truth Machine.

Smiling a little, Gödel writes out the following sentence: "The machine constructed on the basis of the program P(UTM) will never say that this sentence is true." Call this sentence G for Gödel. Note that G is equivalent to: "UTM will never say G is true."

Now Gödel laughs his high laugh and asks UTM whether G is true or not.

If UTM says G is true, then "UTM will never say G is true" is false. If "UTM will never say G is true" is false, then G is false (since G = "UTM will never say G is true"). So if UTM says G is true, then G is in fact false, and UTM has made a false statement. So UTM will never say that G is true, since UTM makes only true statements.

We have established that UTM will never say G is true. So "UTM will never say G is true" is in fact a true statement. So G is true (since G = "UTM will never say G is true").

"I know a truth that UTM can never utter," Gödel says. "I know that G is true. UTM is not truly universal."

Think about it - it grows on you ...
32 posted on 06/09/2003 9:21:16 AM PDT by KDD (Thank you for the link.)
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To: TomB
It's harder to plow through if one knows some mathematics.
33 posted on 06/09/2003 9:28:09 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Gary Boldwater
We are not spending enough money on government science!

An interesting assertion, although unrelated to the precedent ironic observations.

34 posted on 06/09/2003 9:29:52 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: VadeRetro
Right Wing Prof is opus'ed and gone?

What are you wailing about? RWP is still in good standing. If he chooses not to participate, that is his choice (this has happened before).

35 posted on 06/09/2003 9:32:23 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: RightWhale
An interesting assertion, although unrelated to the precedent ironic observations.

I think that was needed to make his point(IOW it was related). It is akin to the assertion that we need to spend more money on "Art" and "education". The education system is the epitome of the "spend the people's money" approach. If you spend money and the spending achieves your goal, spend more money for even more benefits. If you spend money and the results are not achieved, spend even more money to fix the "problem".

36 posted on 06/09/2003 9:39:08 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: ShadowAce
How can the Universe be permeated by a field of unstable, rapidly decaying particles?

They decay rapidly in the free state. When bound they live forever, nearly.

37 posted on 06/09/2003 9:39:57 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: andy224
If it is being done in Europe, by Eurocentric scientist, it will ultimately fall short. In fact, they may blow up Franco-Swiss land for good.
38 posted on 06/09/2003 9:43:53 AM PDT by Porterville (Screw the grammar, full posting ahead.)
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To: 19th LA Inf
Another legacy of Bill the Destroyer of America.
39 posted on 06/09/2003 9:44:38 AM PDT by Porterville (Screw the grammar, full posting ahead.)
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To: AndrewC
"spend the people's money"

We argue about how to do this, what to spend it on. For example, gov't is encouraging consumers to buy homes, encouraging it as much as they can. It might seem like we are each choosing how to spend our personal funds if we don't understand the purpose of money.

40 posted on 06/09/2003 9:45:19 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: HoustonCurmudgeon
Europe, Franco-Swiss, now if that isn't offensive, I don't no what is.
41 posted on 06/09/2003 9:47:19 AM PDT by Porterville (Screw the grammar, full posting ahead.)
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To: RightWhale
When bound they live forever, nearly

A photon lives "forever" unbound does it not? What happens to it when bound?

42 posted on 06/09/2003 9:47:50 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: andy224
The universe IS the understanding.
43 posted on 06/09/2003 9:48:25 AM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: RightWhale
We argue about how to do this, what to spend it on. For example, gov't is encouraging consumers to buy homes, encouraging it as much as they can.

They may encourage as much as they want. I can spend my money on rent if I choose(or live under a bridge and spend it on Mad Dog 20/20 and understand the universe a bit more). However, when they take my money, I lose control of it.

44 posted on 06/09/2003 9:55:29 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: AD from SpringBay
...there are no records of what the conditions of the b-b were.

The microwave background is a rather good record of the b-b conditions.

45 posted on 06/09/2003 9:58:20 AM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: AndrewC
A photon lives "forever" unbound does it not?

Einstein created photons as a handy entity in a few of his theoretical models. That is still where photons exist: in the physical models.

46 posted on 06/09/2003 9:58:47 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: RightWhale
That is still where photons exist: in the physical models.

Well they give a lot of evidence of existence outside of models.

47 posted on 06/09/2003 10:00:45 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: AndrewC
when they take my money, I lose control of it

What is the difference if you and a few million others choose to spend your personal discretionary funds on cars and red wine or if the funds are concentrated and the system chooses to spend the pooled resources on cars and red wine?

48 posted on 06/09/2003 10:01:07 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: AndrewC
Where does the wave that the surfer rides come from, and where does it go. Is a pipe a particle?
49 posted on 06/09/2003 10:04:14 AM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: RightWhale
What is the difference if you and a few million others choose to spend your personal discretionary funds on cars and red wine or if the funds are concentrated and the system chooses to spend the pooled resources on cars and red wine?

None, if that is my choice.

50 posted on 06/09/2003 10:04:29 AM PDT by AndrewC
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