Theoretical Frustration plus The Battery Thing

This entry was posted by Sunday, 22 March, 2009
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Bella Luna, Principal Investigator, Higgs Phenomena

MASS MYSTERIES

Matter consists of electrons, protons, neutrons, a passel of quarks and neutrinos, and some other stuff. 19 different different particles in all, according to the (slightly cheesy) “Standard Model”. Unfortunately, the particles it describes are ephemeral things with no mass. They would float right through you. YOU would float right through ME. This redoubtable theory describes something. But it could use a touch of realism.

To that end, Peter Higgs (and others) made a lot of physicists happy by proposing that particles are swimming in a “soup” (a field) which, lucky boy, got named after him. The Higgs field. According to Higgs, particles that DO have mass, acquire it by moving through this field. To me, this sounds far fetched. Some kinda aether. But physicists like it. They say it’s elegant.

Why I’m not a physicist.

Anyway, they’ve been searching for the particle (Higgs Boson) which is responsible for the Higgs field for years. The searching is done with particle accelerators. And the largest of them all, the Large Haydron Collider in Switzerland. will start looking as soon as it recovers from the temporary embarassment of shutting down after its Grand Opening ceremony.

So far, no luck. There are still, however, places (energy levels) left to look. What if, ultimately, they come up dry? If there’s no Higgs, either our national obesity problem is solved in a flash (no mass, no weight), or the Standard Model may be in trouble which (my opinion) is a good thing. Science thrives on disappointment. Maybe this is good for M-Theory (another time).

NEW BATTERY TECHNOLOGY

It’s hard to get it right as far as energy is concerned. We’ve had several big energy crises and society’s misfired each time, either failing to react with enough resources or entering politically popular cul de sacs such as corn ethanol.

But the last round of oil price rises made a real impression. The cure for cancer may be delayed for a while because everyone’s working on windmills.

This week saw two announcements about advanced battery technology (needed to provide storage for renewable energy schemes):

The Maryland NanoCenter says it’s found a way to make batteries that’re up to 10 times more efficient using nanotechnology. And Gerbrand Ceder (MIT, Materials Science & Engineering) has gotten astonishing press play with his technique for speeding up charging/discharging of batteries.

Give Dr. Gerbrand’s battery a 9. Give the MIT Press Office a 10. Gerbrand’s Battery

Three things that I would like to give brief mention to:
COLD FUSION: Remember this? Pons and Fleischmann weren’t able to back up their claims of a simple fusion device and their reputations suffered for it. They just couldn’t prove that neutrons were present. But Lo, Behold, The Space And Naval Warfare Systems Center (Mosier-Boss and others) found a way to prove that electrons ARE being produced. Science. You NEVER know, do
ya? Low Energy Nuclear Reactions

CANCER FRONT: Dr. Joseph Bauer reports a fundamentally different way to approach cancer. The extremely preliminary results, 4 dogs, look fascinating. But stay calm. Curing cancer’s a long, long road. Lots of ways to be disappointed. Still. Best of luck with this wonderful work. Trojan Horse Approach

GENE FOR WEIGHT LOSS: Back to getting rid of mass. Gene Therapy For Obesity

5 Responses to “Theoretical Frustration plus The Battery Thing”

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