Archive for September 20th, 2008|Daily archive page

Presidential debates

The first of three presidential debates between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will be held this Friday, September 26th.  The Commission on Presidential Debates reports that the schedule is as follows:

  • First presidential debate: Friday, September 26
    Moderated by Jim Lehrer
  • Second presidential debate: Tuesday, October 7
    Moderated by Tom Brokaw
  • Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 15
    Moderated by Bob Schieffer

The first debate will focus on domestic issues, the third on foreign policy, and the second will be town hall format featuring a variety of questions from citizens.  Conventional wisdom states that stakes are higher for Obama, whose campaign has been partly based on his ability to inspire people.  The two candidates have very different styles, as demonstrated at the Saddleback forum and the Public Service forum; both candidates spoke at both events, but did not share the stage.

Sarah Palin and Joe Biden will debate once, on Thursday, October 2nd.  Conventional wisdom is that Biden, a much more skilled and experienced politician, should outperform Palin, especially on foreign policy matters.  As with the first and third presidential debates, the candidates will be seated at a table with the moderator, Gwen Ifill.  All four debates will begin at 9pm EST and will last 90 minutes. 

The AP has an interesting story on notable presidential debates through history, “Hazards in a half century of presidential debates.”

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Problems at the LHC

A super magnet thingy like this is having liquid helium type problems.  Or something.

A super magnet thingy like this is having liquid helium type problems. Or something.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experienced it’s first technical problem less than a day after becoming operational when a transformer failed. “This is arguably the largest machine built by humankind, is incredibly complex, and involves components of varying ages and origins, so I’m not at all surprised to hear of some glitches,” said Steve Giddings, a physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

And there are glitches–plural. Scientists have now detected a helium leak in the Collider’s cooling system. The liquid helium is used to keep the machine’s 1600+ superconducting magnets at just 1.9 degrees kelvin. To effect repairs, the components in question will first need to warm up again and, once the fix is made, they’ll need to be cooled down again before the LHC can be brought back online. This will take approximately two months.

So, maybe that’s why we’re all still here. But if you want to find out if the Large Hadron Collider has destroyed the world yet, a helpful webisite has been set up that will tell you: http://www.hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ Check it out to see if you’re still here.

Hopefully the collider is fixed soon so we can find out why matter has mass, if there are more than three spacial dimensions, and all sorts of other cool stuff.