Archive for September, 2011

Goodbye Tevatron

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment
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Shutdown looms at pioneering American atom smasher

By TAMMY WEBBER , Associated Press

Shutdown looms at pioneering American atom smasher (AP)

In this Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011 photo, physicist Dmitri Denisov, who works on one of two huge particle detectors at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., that gather data from the lab’s Tevatron collider, looks over the area that houses the lab’s four mile underground track. Inside the track, beams of protons and anti-protons race around at nearly the speed of light before smashing them to dislodge hidden particles that make up matter. On Friday, Sept. 30, physicists will shut down the Tevatron, a once-unrivaled atom smasher that has been eclipsed by the Large Hadron Collider buried beneath the border of France and Switzerland. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

(AP) — Aside from the slogan on the water tower that reads “City of Energy,” there is little in this leafy Chicago suburb of gently rolling hills to indicate that it has been the center of the universe when it comes to studying, well – the universe.

This is the home of the , or Fermilab, where for a quarter-century scientists have worked on the world’s most powerful to try to recreate conditions that existed just after the Big Bang.

In the coming months, the eyes of the will be focused here to see if researchers can confirm the startling findings announced last week in Europe – that called neutrinos traveled faster than the speed of light.

But this is also a time of transition for Fermilab. On Friday, physicists will shut down the facility’s accelerator called the Tevatron, a once-unrivaled that has been eclipsed by the Large Hadron Collider buried beneath the border of France and Switzerland.

For some in Batavia, it will be a somber moment, akin to losing a family member. Others wonder whether it signals a lack of commitment to high-level particle science on U.S. soil.

Fermilab leaders say they hope that’s not the case, because there’s plenty of research to keep Batavia at the cutting edge.

That point was underscored after researchers using equipment at , the European Organization for Nuclear Research, revealed their finding that cast doubt on Einstein’s .

Fermilab – named after , who helped develop atomic energy at the University of Chicago – is one of only two other labs in the world that could try to replicate the work. The other, in Japan, has been slowed by the earthquake and tsunami.

Fermilab saw similar faster-than-light results in 2007 while shooting a beam of neutrinos to a lab in northern Minnesota. But the scientific significance of that observation was undercut by a large margin of error. Now the lab hopes to upgrade its own “clock” to see if it can confirm or debunk the European findings.

But long after the light-speed question has been answered, Fermilab hopes to make neutrino research one of the centerpieces of the post-Tevatron era – and retain its standing as one of the world’s premier research labs.

That would involve building a new accelerator to study the universe in a new way – by producing the most collisions, rather than the most powerful. The accelerator also would be capable of producing neutrino beams more intense than anywhere else to help study the particles that scientists theorize helped tip the cosmic scales toward a universe made of matter.

“The idea is to look for things that happen very rarely, and the way to find them is to create lots of examples and see if you find something,” said Steve Holmes, who’s in charge of the new venture, called Project X.

The proposal could cost up to $2 billion, but has no funding yet. Even if the project goes unfunded, Fermilab has programs to last through the coming decade, “but beyond that, we really need to enhance the capabilities of the complex here if we are going to have an accelerator-based program in the U.S,” Holmes said.

Though work that began with the Tevatron will continue in Europe, Fermilab won’t be left out. Physicists in Batavia are able to conduct remote, computer-aided research on the LHC at the same time as their counterparts at that facility. And some of the 600 scientists working on the Tevatron will travel to Europe to work on the new collider, just as physicists from around the world flocked to Batavia after the Tevatron was built 28 years ago.

Still, the end is disappointing, said former congressman Bill Foster, a physicist who worked for 22 years on the Tevatron, which sends beams of protons and anti-protons racing around a four-mile underground track at nearly the speed of light before smashing them together to dislodge hidden particles that make up matter.

The LHC makes a 17-mile loop and is seven times more powerful. Neither of the colliders is directly connected to the light-speed experiments. The U.S. began building an accelerator that would have been even bigger – a 54-mile Superconducting Super Collider – in Texas, but that project was canceled in 1993 when funding fell through.

“The decline of particle physics in the U.S. is really a symptom of the erratic and sometimes anti-scientific attitudes in Washington and the incompetence of Congress in managing science,” said Foster, a Democrat who is running again for Congress next year. “And it’s sad for Batavia.”

It’s difficult to overstate the role Fermilab played in the world of high-energy particle physics. It was at the 6,800-acre facility on restored prairie that physicists working with the Tevatron in 1995 confirmed the existence of the long-elusive top quark, the last building block of matter to be discovered.

“Now we are going levels deeper in trying to understand the most important laws that regulate the universe,” said Giovani Punzi, a physicist who moved to Illinois from Italy three years ago.

But there also have been more immediate benefits from the Tevatron: Its powerful magnets led to MRIs and are used in superconducting. Neutron therapy helps treat cancer patients. And the collider has changed the way science analyzes data.

Lately, Tevatron researchers have been squeezing as many collisions as possible from the machine, hoping their years of effort still yield clues to the most prized particle of all: the theoretical Higgs boson, or “God particle,” which could explain why matter has mass – and therefor the existence of everything from planets to people.

By early next year, Fermilab hopes to be able to conclude from Tevatron data that either the Higgs boson does not exist or that it’s still a plausible theory. Even if there’s evidence of the Higgs boson, it would have to be confirmed, and that would probably happen in Switzerland.

But that’s OK, says Fermilab Director Pier Oddone.

“It’s not a competition, it’s about the science,” Oddone says.

Then he pauses.

“There is some competition, but also a huge amount of collaboration,” he explains, noting that Fermilab expertise helped build the LHC and the U.S. invested heavily in it. “My wish for the LHC is that it would have as wonderful and productive a life as Tevatron.”

As for the , it will probably become a stop on the lab’s visitor tour, Oddone said.

But first, it will come to a quiet and respectful end.

On Friday, one of its founding physicists, Helen Edwards, will abort the beam of particles and shut down the accelerator before joining others outside the main control room for a celebration.

“We’re thinking of it as if we’re pulling the plug on our favorite uncle,” said Roger Dixon, who heads the accelerator division at .

That day will be bittersweet, but “it’s not the end of the world,” Denisov says. “It’s the next frontier.”


The Art of Excess

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Chris Jordan is a multimedia artist.

He uses unusual media to construct his messages.

Take a gander:

Well Said!

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

White-hot conservative and libertarian anger at the size and intrusiveness of government is getting a lot of attention these days. It seems so fierce, so single-minded; Let the federal government default. Let the uninsured die. But two recent events in Texas illustrate how another emotion, fear, has much more influence on our views about how much government is too much. Those events illustrate how simplistic the ‘smaller government’ anger is, and how when we’re afraid, even to the most arch conservatives, big and intrusive government that keeps us safe, is just fine.

Consider first the fight many Texans put up when Governor/Presidential Candidate Rick Perry’s tried to mandate the HPV vaccine , to protect women from cervical cancer. The strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) that cause that disease are spread by sexual contact. The HPV vaccine protects against those strains, so Governor Perry ordered that all girls in Texas be vaccinated. . . (read more here)

Oprah’s Lifeclass

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Stop The Pipeline

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

To Be or Not To Be: Answers for the Fair Tax

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

A person with the facts is never at the mercy of someone with just an opinion.” – Unknown

Feature Article: Winning the Debate

Americans have a lot of questions about how the FairTax will transformation our nation.

Objections vary from person to person but here are some short answers with links to more detailed research.

Also, here is a link for a very thorough paper, “The FairTax: Fundamentals and Facts” with answers to more technical questions.

“My FairTax rate would be too high.”

Under the FairTax you can control your tax rate! The prebate makes basic necessities tax free and used good never are taxed. You only pay taxes when you choose to purchase new goods and services. If you spend double the poverty line, your FairTax rate is only half of 23%! See more examples here.

Most Americans are in a 15% tax bracket and pay another 7.65% in payroll taxes which is about 23% already. But we spend about $400 billion dollars more every year just figuring out how much to send to Washington!

Compare your rate at

“The IRS still has to exist under the FairTax”

Under the FairTax, unlike a flat income tax, the IRS is eliminated both symbolically and literally. The FairTax defunds the IRS and orders records to be destroyed.

The states, most of which have had more than 60 years of experience in the administration of the sales tax, will collect and enforce the FairTax. Today, 98% of the population is covered by state or local sales taxes.

Details in Title III, Section 301 of the FairTax, HR 25

“The FairTax can’t fully fund our government”

The FairTax has been very thoroughly researched to provide all the revenues collected by the taxes it eliminates. It also funds the prebate, collection fees for retailers and state sales tax organizations.

Other reports are largely based on the 2005 Panel on Tax Reform and subsequent misanalysis which declared the rate would have to be much higher. The catch is, they quietly devised their own national consumption tax which they loaded with the exemptions and deductions they felt were politically realistic.

Finally, it’s important to note that the FairTax is “revenue neutral.” Like our current tax code, it’s not calculated to be ‘spending neutral.’

See published, detailed research at

“The FairTax is not politically possible”

It’s true that great public policy changes do not happen easily. We believe, however, in the promise of the Founding Fathers that this is a nation, “of, by and for the people”. But we have seen Congressional co-sponsors come on board faster than ever before; as more and more Americans have come to understand the powerful benefits the FairTax offers the nation. We’re closer to victory every time Americans from the left, right and center force another Congressman to co-sponsor the FairTax legislation.

As our ranks grow, such pressure will increase on members of Congress and at some point, the voice of the people will eclipse the voices of the relatively small number of Washingtonians who profit from the income tax system at great cost to our nation.

“Low and middle income people will pay more”

The FairTax actually eliminates and reimburses all federal taxes up to the poverty line for all Americans. This is accomplished through the prebate and by eliminating the highly regressive FICA payroll tax. Today, low and moderate income Americans pay far more in payroll taxes than income taxes. Those spending at twice the poverty level pay a FairTax of only 11.5 percent – a rate much lower than the income and payroll tax burden they bear today.

Also, under the federal income tax, slow economic growth and recessions have a disproportionately adverse impact on lower-income families. Breadwinners in these families are more likely to lose their jobs, are less likely to have the resources to weather bad economic times, and are more in need of the initial employment opportunities that a dynamic, growing economy provides.

In a nutshell, research thoroughly documents that the rich who spend the most will pay more but low, moderate and middle income taxpayers will benefit from the greatest gains in reduced tax liabilities.

See specifics at

“Politicians can raise the FairTax rate”

Yes, Congress can raise the FairTax rate just as it can and does raise the income tax rate. However, the FairTax is highly visible. And because there is only one tax rate, it will be very hard for Congress to adopt the typical divide-and-conquer, hide-and-disguise strategy employed today to manipulate the income tax code.

“The 23% rate is misleading. It’s actually 30%”

We choose to compare the FairTax to income and payroll taxes, quoting the rate the same way, because the FairTax replaces such taxes. That rate is 23 percent.

Sales taxes, on the other hand, are generally quoted tax exclusive: “I bought a $77 shirt and had to pay that same $23 in sales tax.” This is a 30% sales tax. Or, “I spent a dollar, 77¢ for the product and 23¢ in tax.” This rate, when programmed into a point-of-purchase terminal, is 30%.

Note that no matter which way it is quoted, the amount of tax is the same. Under an income tax rate of 23 percent, you have to earn $130 to spend $100.

Read more: A 23% tomato or a 30% tomato?

“It’s not enforceable and there will be evasion”

There always will be evasion and today’s incomprehensible system does nurture our underground economy. But the FairTax minimizes confusion and reduces compliance points by eliminating over 80% of tax returns – every individual filing today.

Also, 80% of all retail sales now occur at large retail chains that won’t aid tax cheats. This leaves state sales tax organizations – with decades of experience – an even smaller area to focus on.

See detailed research at

FairTax In the News

Republican 2012 Hopefuls Roll Out Economic Proposals From Taxes to TradeBloomberg

…Perry also favors sweeping tax changes. He said in his book that one option would be to replace the current code in favor of a flat tax on income. Another option would be to put in place “an alternative model such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax.”

Cain and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, 76, have also spoken approvingly of the Fair Tax — a retail sales tax that would shield Americans below the poverty line from its impact.

Romney was more guarded when asked about the proposal in a Sept. 12 candidates’ debate. The tax “lowers the burden on the very highest income folks and the very lowest income folks, and raises it on middle-income people,” he said…

The Jon Stewart Jesus Interview

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Jan Phillips is a visionary author and dynamic speaker who ignites original thinking and inspires evolutionary action.
She “envisioned” this Jon Stewart interview:

I woke up last night to the sound of laughing and realized I’d fallen asleep with the TV on. It was 3 AM and I knew it was Jon Stewart but I had to fumble around for my glasses to see who his guest was. Unbelievable! It was Jesus, in his robe and all. His nose was bigger than I thought, his skin a lot darker, but his eyes were more piercing than I’d ever imagined. It was like light came out instead of going into them.

John was making some joke about both of them being Jews and Jesus, after laughing harder than I thought he would, said quite seriously to Jon, “Yeah, that’s one of the weirdest things, isn’t it? How could they forget that?”

Jon was all over him with questions from the daily news. What was his take on the whole Mosque/Ground Zero fiasco? Jesus said he’d seen some newscasts on the story and couldn’t believe the drama and fear it was bringing up. “They want to build a public building for prayer, education and community gathering. That’s a good thing. A better thing perhaps, would be the construction of an interfaith building, There’s room for everyone, and it’s these distinctions between religions that’s causing all the problems in the first place.”

Jon looked incredulous. “An interfaith building??”

“Yes, a multi-tasking mosque, with a synagogue, chapel and meditation hall in it. A building where people of different faiths come together to make a better world together. That’s the point of religion right? It’s not about doctrine. It’s a plan for action, an opportunity to be a bigger force for good. Religion is just the map. Faith is the real adventure.”

“I don’t know….” said Stewart, making one of those funny mouth movements he does after hearing a strange idea.

Jesus pipes in, “What could be better in that spot than a building that represents, by its very structure, a coming together, a new vision that goes beyond religious borders? It’s like taking a good idea and making it great. The real prophets of the day know this. Where are their voices? Why aren’t you interviewing them?”

“Hmm, I thought I was,” says Stewart, tapping his pencil on the desk.

“You know why you have border issues here? Because you believe the borders are real, like they MEAN something. Muslin against Christian, Mexican against American, Republican against Democrat-all those borders are made up. You put up walls to defend your ideas-and not even your OWN, but ideas passed down to you from someone else-and then you make other people look like demons. It’s no wonder this country is in a state of collapse. You don’t even get it how connected you are. You’re like five fingers on a hand who think they’re separate and make up reasons why not to get along.”

Jon sat there with his mouth open.

“You’re like children playing war games. You spend all your time, all your energy attacking the “other side” instead of realizing you need to bridge the two sides in order to get across to a higher level  of thinking. Even news shows are at war. Look at how you make fun of FOX. What light does that add to the world? All the time you could be giving to real visionaries, all the ways you could be role-modeling good behavior, showing the audience how it really WORKS to bring great and opposing minds together, and you sit there poking fun at another station. That’s really enlightened, isn’t it?”

This was the first time I’d ever seen Jon Stewart speechless. He looked like an embarrassed 6th grader. No pencil tapping now. More like a puppy with his tail between his legs.

“What in the world are you people doing? The ones who call themselves “religious” are often the most immature, the most judgmental and intolerant. What is THAT about? That’s exactly the opposite of what every religion teaches. And I mean EVERY religion,”
Jesus said, as he looked away from Stewart and spoke right to the camera.

“All the religions say two basic things,” he said, holding up his fingers in a peace sign.
“First, there is no distance between you and this one you call God. God is the creative force behind all things. It’s invisible, but you are the manifestation of it. I’m telling you, the Sistine Chapel should have been a mirror.”

The audience laughs, but Stewart stares into those deep eyes of the Nazarene.

He goes on, ” You are the eyes, the hands, the feet of that creative force. That energy is in you. It’s called your breath.” He holds up his index finger and taps on it a few times. “That’s the first thing. Don’t think there’s some man out there pulling strings. Grow up. This civilization-if you can call it that-is YOUR creation. This earth, it is not a bunch of resources to be exploited. It is not to be owned. It is your mother, the womb that you sprang from. You are its consciousness, its neural cells. The whole earth is the organism that you belong to. You did not come down to earth, you came up from earth, as I did. Its well-being is in your hands. Can you be proud of what you’re doing? Are you going to be the ones who kill it off, after all that talk about pro-life?”

Jesus was getting a little worked up, like that day he stormed through the temple turning over the merchants’ tables. Jon cut to a commercial, “And we’ll be right back to hear the 2nd basic thing from our guest tonight, ladies and gentlemen, the Jewish prophet Jesus of Nazareth. Stay tuned…”

They were laughing about something when they returned from the commercial, Jesus stretched out in his chair with his long lanky legs covered by his tunic, his sandaled feet hidden under the desk.

“OK,” Jon says, “You were saying there were two things. Let me see if I got this right. There’s no bearded guy up there on a cloud. That God we talk about and fight over is the creative force inside us and around us? It’s invisible and we’re like….(a long pause) its shadow?”

“Not exactly,” says Jesus. We’re like the physical form of the same energy. The ice cube version of water or steam. Same elements, different form. The sea and the iceberg. You’re all icebergs in the Sea of God,” he said, half-laughing at his own quaint metaphor. “But the problem is you don’t realize that underneath it all, you’re all connected. There’s just one big iceberg with a lot of tips. The truth is, you’re Creation continuing the co-creation of Itself.”

“Oh my,” says Stewart. “Let’s leave that discussion to Bill Moyers, What about number two? What’s the number two thing we’re supposed to know?”

Jesus holds up his two fingers again, tapping the tip of his middle finger. The camera zoomed in so closely on him I could see a scar on his forehead. “It’s not so much what you need to know-that’s part of the problem, all these peoples’ belief systems. That’s what gets you in trouble. No one has to believe in me to get to heaven. A…there is no heaven to get to and B, it’s not what you believe but how you act that matters. If anyone learned anything from reading that Bible they should have picked up that one. There’s 3000 references to helping the poor in there.  But let me get back…”

“Yes,” says Stewart. “The second thing..”

“The second thing is this: forget everything you ever learned in any holy book and just treat everyone like a brother and a sister. I mean that literally. If it were your brother coming across the border…your sister with cancer and no health care….your child unable to get an education….your mother with no food in her house. And even further, your brother who was gay or hated gays, your sister who was a corrupt politician, your brother who bombed an abortion clinic, your sister who got an abortion. What does it look like to love unconditionally? To bridge differences, to come together over what we can agree on? Can you get through one day without thinking you’re better or less than another? That’s the thing to strive for. That is living faithfully.”

“But…but…” says Stewart. “What about the Tea Partyers, the terrorists, what about Fox News and hate crimes?”

“If you think they are so different from you, be the opposite of what you think they are and enact that powerfully in the world. Don’t focus on who’s wrong. Just be a greater force for good.”

“Not focus on who’s wrong? How could I do my show?”

“Exactly. Remember what Gandhi said? Be the change you want to see in the world?”

“Sure. I have that quotation on my refrigerator.”

“Well, it’s time to take it further. You’re evolving as a people. You’ve come through the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the wrongly named Period of Enlightenment. You’re now in the Information Age. You are growing your consciousness. In the physical world, you have Olympic marathon trainers who run 10 miles or more a day. They spend every waking hour in training, eating the right foods, researching the right clothing and equipment, working out, following a discipline. And in the metaphysical world, the spiritual world, you have people doing the same-they are your mystics and prophets-engaging in spiritual practice, accelerating their wisdom, expanding their consciousness, transcending judgment and radiating love into the world. You might be in that category.,.”

Stewart does one of his choking, ahem things, putting his hand over his mouth. “Out of the question,” he says frankly. “I thrive on judgment.”

“Good to know yourself. You’re all evolving at different rates. In the fall, when you look at a maple tree, you see leaves that are green, yellow, orange and red. They don’t all change at the same time. And that’s what makes life exciting. You all know different things. That’s why you need each other. Like that guy Ken Wilbur said, “You’re all right, only partly so.”

Stewart nods his head in agreement, tapping his pencil on the table again.

“But back to Gandhi. I agree with what he said, but I’ll say it a different way, just to shake things up a bit, which I love to do. By the way, it’d make a great bumper sticker:
Be the God you want to see in the world.”

“Oh-oh, sounds blasphemous to me,” says Stewart.

“You know as well as I do, every good idea starts out as a blasphemy.”

“OK, great, we’re out of time,” says Stewart, as the camera swings over for a shot of the audience. They’re all standing, some crying and laughing at the same time, the most incredible look of collective awe I’ve ever seen. And Jesus walks over like Jay Leno and starts shaking hands with them.

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