Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What is a Large Hadron Collider good for?

Why does anyone spend $10 billion on the Large Hadron Collider just to bang some protons together? One classic answer was given some time ago by Michael Faraday, who, when asked what good was electricity, told a government minister that he didn’t know but that "one day you will tax it."

According to Dennis Overbye, deputy science editor for the New York Times, however, the answer lies not in the results but in the seeking. See The Joy of Physics Isn’t in the Results, but in the Search Itself.

Overbye's essay echoes in some ways the observation of Albert Camus: "The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart."

Take Dr Vera Rubin, discussed in the article. Her discoveries that stars at the edge of galaxies were orbiting too fast to be kept from being flung out into space led to the idea that there must be extra mass holding them in place that we can't see, namely dark matter. But is it dark matter, or does Newtonian physics not work so well at great distances?

Rubin herself isn't sure. "I don’t know if we have dark matter or have to nudge Newton’s Laws or what." But there's where the joy lies: facing the challenge of not knowing. Says Rubin: “I’m sorry I know so little; I’m sorry we all know so little. But that’s kind of the fun, isn’t it?”


This will (effort willing) be a regular feature of the blog. Although the format may well change, for now I anticipate short descriptions of worthy (or perhaps unworthy) films. There will be little or no plot exposition as I find that I often enjoy movies best when I know the least. The hope is simply that you may discover some interesting and entertaining films. Feel free to comment (and/or post your own Screenings). To paraphrase the other James and Murray of "A Thousand Clowns", you can never have too many posts.

Topic for today is dysfunctional families.

Un conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale) (2008)

Writer: Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu

Director: Arnaud Desplenchin

This is not a Tim Burton film but a French drama where "Crumb" meets "Mulholland Drive"—not as a thriller, but as not knowing what's going on. It is perhaps the most unconventional movie I have seen—and it is simply a straight forward drama of a family get-to-gether for Christmas. However, it feels as if you have been transported to an alternate universe where everyone is familiar, yet different. This is not for everyone. It is confusing; it can be erudite; it is long. For me, it was not a great film, but it was brilliant.

Eulogy (2004)

Writer: Michael Clancy

Director: Michael Clancy

A gaggle of dysfunctional family members come together for the patriarch's funeral. Their mission is to be themselves, i.e. make everyone else's life miserable and your's hilarious. It is smart, clever, and funny, really funny. The 2 kids themselves are worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Short Reign At the Top

Leave it to the Germans to ruin Britain's reign.

The currently Strongest Beer in the World: 40% Alcohol

Available in 0.33 liter ceramic bottles, personally signed and hand-numbered by the Braumeister himself. Each bottle is sealed with wax by hand and comes in a wooden case with a transparent window on one side.

Awesome name as well, "Schorschbrau Schorschbock"

Not the the Fainthearted

Here it is, the strongest beer in the world ever: Tactical Nuclear Penguin. If nothing else, it has a great name.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brewing Update

Priming and bottling occurred yesterday. The beer tasted pretty good for being flat. The pictures have been added to Harvey Family Pictures Updated(12/10/09).

Thanksgiving Pictures will be up shortly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ice Skating at Schenley

Correction for the google calendar on the right side of the blog.

Skating is at 9:30 PM not AM on December 30, 2009.
9:30-11:30 PM.

The mistake has been corrected on the calendar to reflect the proper time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

blog song

Now that it's our one year anniversary, I have composed the following song -- to the tune of The Beauty and the Beast song "Be our Guest" -- to try to promote more readership.

Read Our Blog

Read our blog! Read our blog!
Don't just sit there like a log.
Take a look at what we've written, friend
And soon you'll be agog.
Its got wit; its got style
And at times will make you smile,
Never coarse and not too catty
Though at times it's slightly batty.
You may laugh, you may cry,
You may write a harsh reply:
It will never leave you wand'ring in a fog.
Go on, check out our venue
Take a glance and then you'll
Read our blog
Yes, our blog
Read our blog!

For your mill, lots of grist
Stuff that simply can't be missed.
It's all there, but just beware
Once you start you can't resist.
Random thoughts, recent news
And our varied brilliant views:
Life is brief and oh-so fleeting
So, come on, why aren't you reading?
There are jokes! Some cartoons --
Always clever, not jejune
And the chance to have a lively dialogue.
Oh yes, there is some scandal,
Nothing you can't handle
Read our blog

-- In a bog?
There's no need to visit Prague --

Just read our blog
Read our blog
Read our blog!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Why Women Have Sex

Let's get the new year started out right with a blog on sex. In 2007, Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss, both psychology professors at the University of Texas at Austin, published a joint research paper on human sexuality titled “Why Humans Have Sex.” The answers men gave were moderately interesting, I suppose, but what really fascinated the authors were the women's responses -- so they decided to conduct additional research, and this year published “Why Women Have Sex.”

Anyway, Sally Law of The New Yorker caught up with the two authors for the following interview: ASK AN ACADEMIC: WHY WOMEN HAVE SEX. The main theme here seems to be something my son John likes to say: The main difference between men and women is that men are simple and women are complicated.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy One Year Anniversary (plus a few days)

On December 1, 2008 In Progress had its first memorable and eloquent post, "First!" authored by Mike. This week marks the blog's first anniversary. An update on the blog-

Last 40 or so visitors' locations-