Shape Shifting Neutrinos

I’ll follow that last post with some real science. Last year ,the whole scientific community was excited over the possibility that neutrinos could possibly travel faster than light. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. This was finally confirmed by studies by the OPERA team at CERN, as I read in this article in New Scientist.

The faster-than-light neutrino saga is officially over. Today, at the Neutrino 2012 conference in Kyoto, Japan, the OPERA collaboration announced that according to their latest measurements, neutrinos travel at almost exactly the speed of light.

“Although this result isn’t as exciting as some would have liked, it is what we all expected deep down,” said CERN research director Sergio Bertolucci in a statement.

Even though they do not travel faster than light, neutrinos are still interesting little particles. There are three different types, each associated with a lepton particle; electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos, and tau neutrinos. But the odd thing is that a neutrino can actually change its type or oscillates between the three types. Confirming this oscillation, is in fact, the real job of the OPERA team.

With the dust settling, OPERA is getting back to its real job: finding tau neutrinos. This week the team also announced that they have found the second-ever instance of a muon neutrino morphing into a tau neutrino, strengthening the case that neutrinos have mass.

But all of that was a sidebar to the experiment’s real goal: catching shape-shifting neutrinos in the act. Neutrinos come in three flavours: electron, muon and tau. Several experiments had seen evidence for neutrinos spontaneously switching, or oscillating, from one type to another. Those oscillations proved, to many physicists’ surprise, that the supposed massless particles must have some infinitesimal mass, and offered a route to explaining why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe.

Before OPERA, all the evidence for neutrino oscillations came from disappearances: detectors would end up with less of a certain type of neutrino than they started with, suggesting some had morphed into other flavours. Then in 2010, OPERA found the first tau neutrino in a beam of billions of muon neutrinos streaming to the Gran Sasso detectors from CERN. The discovery was a big deal at the time, but the team said they needed more tau neutrinos to make it statistically significant.

Now, a second tau neutrino has shown up in the detectors, they report.

“This result shows that the collaboration is definitely and effectively back to its original goal of discovering neutrino oscillations in appearance mode,” De Lellis says.

OPERA will need at least six tau neutrinos to definitively claim they’re seeing the oscillation effect, so they’re not there yet. And when they do, they may find they’ve been scooped: in another experiment, the team behind the T2K detector in Japan announced this week that they have seen 10 muon neutrinos shifting into electron neutrinos.

The idea of neutrino oscillation is not a new one. Scientists first suspected this might be the case when only about one third the expected number of electron neutrinos were detected from the sun. It seemed as though something was badly wrong about our understanding of solar physics. But, if neutrinos have mass, they were believe to be massless at the time, and they could oscillate between the three types, than we would only detect about one third of the expected number from the sun. Detecting the oscillation would also confirm that neutrinos have mass and would be an important step in confirming the standard model of particle physics.

Islamic Science

There are many Islamophobes in the West who believe that the Muslims have not contributed anything significant to humanity’s scientific progress in the last few centuries. Sure, the Arabs invented algebra, and made spectacular contributions to the sciences of chemistry, optics and astronomy, but all of that was a thousand years ago. What have they done recently? Well, I am happy to report that scientists  in the Middle East have been engaged in the most cutting edge research.

There is Sultan Bashirudden Mahmood. He was a leading figure in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and was the man most responsible for Pakistan’s development of atomic weapons. He also happened to be very supportive of the Taliban and al-Qaida, until he was arrested for meeting with Osama bin Laden. He has since devoted himself to exploring the connection between Islam and science and has proposed using the power of Jinn (that is genies) to resolve the energy crisis. No, I am not making that up.

It was in the 1980’s that Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood emerged as a proponent of ”Islamic science,” espousing among other things that djinni could be tapped to solve the energy crisis. He published a book called ”The Mechanics of Doomsday and Life After Death.”

”I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them,” Mr. Bashiruddin Mahmood said about djinni in The Wall Street Journal in an interview in 1998. ”Every new idea has its opponents,” he added. ”But there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science.”

But what has really impressed me is this article I read in Jihadwatch. Evidently there is a Shi’ite cleric in London who has made an astonishing discovery on the origin of homosexuality

“London-Based Shiite Cleric Yasser Al-Habib in Anti-Sunni Rhetoric: The Caliph Omar Had an Anal Disease that Made Him Addicted to Homosexuality,” from MEMRI, May 24:

Following are excerpts from an address by London-based Kuwaiti Shiite cleric Yasser Habib, which aired on Fadak TV on May 24, 2012. Fadak TV is dominated by Sheik Habib, who fled Kuwait in 2004 following a one-year prison term for cursing the Caliphs Omar and Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha. He was then sentenced in absentia for 10 years in prison. In September 2010, Kuwait revoked his citizenship.Yasser Habib: Anyone who consents to being called “Emir of the Believers” is a passive homosexual. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, for example, who willingly assumed this title, was, without a doubt, a passive homosexual. The same goes for the caliphs Othman Ibn Affan, Muawiyya, Yazid, and the rulers and sultans of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, as well as some of the rulers and sultans of our day and age. For example, the king of Morocco bears this title, and he is referred to as “the Emir of the Believers” by the [Moroccan] media. This is how you know that he is a passive homosexual.

This is in addition to the evidence revealed by Western media, which showed that the current king of Morocco is indeed a passive homosexual who belongs to the homosexual community. This was leaked from his palace by his assistants, his servants, and his “boys,” whom he would penetrate and who would penetrate him. They fled to Europe, sought asylum, and exposed all this.

Another such example is the person who ruled Afghanistan for a short time – the so-called Mullah Omar.

[…]

It is told [in the hadith] that Omar Ibn Al-Khattab had an anal disease, which could be cured only by semen. One should know that this is a well-known medical condition, which is also mentioned in sacred texts. Someone who, God forbid, has been penetrated in the anus – a worm grows within him, due to the semen discharged in him… A disease develops in his anus, and as a result, he cannot calm down, unless… That’s right, it becomes like an addiction, and he cannot calm down unless he is penetrated again and again.

[…]

The Shiites are undoubtedly protected from this disease, and from committing this abominable and hideous act.

[…]

As for the Nasibis [who hate the Prophet Muhammad’s family], they are definitely afflicted with this homosexuality.

[…]

One of the devils is present at the birth of every human being. If Allah knows that the newborn is one of our Shiites, He fends off that devil, who cannot harm the newborn. But if the newborn is not one of our Shiites, the devil inserts his index finger into the anus of the newborn, who thus becomes a passive homosexual. If the newborn is not a Shiite, the devil inserts his index finger into this newborn’s anus, and when he grows up, he becomes a passive homosexual. If the newborn is a female, the devil inserts his index finger into her vagina, and she becomes a whore….

 

There you have it. If you are gay and prefer to be a “bottom“, than the Devil stuck his finger up your butt just after you were born. This also explains why, as President Ahmadinejad could be sure that there were no homosexuals in Iran. It makes perfect sense to me.

 

 

C. S.Lewis & Narnia for Dummies

I am not really a fan of the For Dummies books because I am not a dummy. Actually, I find the user-friendly features like the sidebars and the little icons to be a little distracting. I suppose I am old fashioned and am used to receiving my information in a more linear fashion.
Nevertheless, as a casual fan of C. S. Lewis, I was looking forward to reading Richard Wagner’s C. S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies. I have to say that I was not disappointed. By a casual fan, I meant that I have read and enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity, and that I had a vague idea of the general outlines of Lewis’s life. Reading C. S. Lewis for Dummies made me appreciate Lewis’s life and works even more and made me determined to read some of his books that I was hardly aware of before.

Wagner begins the book with a general overview of C. S. Lewis, and devotes two more chapters to Lewis’s life and his literary friends, the Inklings. He moves on to Lewis’s fiction spending a lot of time,  about six chapters, on Narnia, giving a synopsis of the plots and characters of the Chronicles and exploring the deeper meaning of the themes of the series.  He spends perhaps too much time on the Chronicles of Narnia, to the detriment of Lewis’s other works. Still, with the movies coming out, perhaps that is the main reader interest.

 

Wagner goes on to explore Lewis’s other fictional works, with a chapter on The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, the Space Trilogy, A Pilgrim’s Regress, and Till We have Faces. He next moves on the Lewis’s non-fiction with a chapter on The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, and other books. Wagner doesn’t spend as much time on Lewis’s nonfiction, which to me is unfortunate, since these are the books by Lewis with which I am least familiar. He has, however, written enough to interest me in reading them.

 

I think that C. S. Lewis and Narnia for Dummies has something for any reader of C. S. Lewis. Whether you are just starting to read one of his books, or a long time fan, you are sure to learn something new from Wager’s book and to finish it with a deeper appreciation and understanding of Lewis and his beliefs.