Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine flu....ohh no not again

Surprisingly, I have not flinched when someone coughed next to me on the train. It just so happens once one disease ends its deadly onslaught, another takes its place. What I do not get is the abnormally slow reaction to the deadly contagion. The health ministry in Mexico and America were saying how it was under control and everything was gonna be fine and before you know it, its made its way to Australia! Folks, get your flu vaccine now before you get infected too, you do not need a PhD in biological sciences to realise that!

According to wikipedia,

"Swine flu is rare in humans. People who work with swine, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine influenza if the swine carry a strain able to infect humans. However, these strains infrequently circulate between humans as SIV rarely mutates into a form able to pass easily from human to human. In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. The World Health Organization has stated that Swine flu symptoms may even be less severe than any seasonal flu symptoms."

Apparently, the virus can also mutatate quickly into different forms a.k.a has a very flexible protein structure. hmm...evolution at work.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Whatever happened to my favourite toy, the Large Hadron Collider?

Remember the LHC, the expensive and gigantic machine that physicists proclaimed as the 'Next Big Thing'. Well it was supposed to be operational in September last year but due to faulty electrical connections that led to a cascade of failures, we will see it in September this year. A few physicists would probably scream in orgasm as a graviton is detected in the depths of pure machinery or hang themselves if the eponymous Higgs Boson is not found.

Another realistic hope is that supersymmetry of particles may be detected! Supersymmetry deals with a situation where for every boson (force carrying particle), there is a fermion (elementary particle) associated with it. This is probably not the ideal scenario because it leads to a whole zoo of other particles and may require a much revised Standard Model. hmm...if only Einstein were alive to berate all those physicists who took this crazy but plausible road.

I firmly believe that we will continue to discover new particles to no end until the energy requirements become infinitely large in which case we need to stop and consider the whole picture or we just get bored and start lighting a cigar and becoming philosophical. I personally would prefer the first choice, what we need to achieve is a 'theory of particles', a theory that looks at the whole picture and can link every particle to a set of equations. maybe? maybe not? maybe too optimistic?

The LHC is certainly important to advance our understanding and hopefully, prove that we have been on the right track in the past few decades. Although I am bemused by string theory which I believe is ganz falsch, at least the LHC may churn out some particles that will force us to think differently about universal laws. The countdown to September awaits and who knows what we will find?

First post

Ah yes, the first post is always the best post. well a bit about myself. As you might have very much guessed, I am infatuated with the world of physics. I am currently a third year student studying physics and astronomy and although times have been tough, its been a fun ride as well! I hope to blog as much as possible, right all my thoughts and contribute to a growing blogosphere on physics. see you till then!