Tempers flared in Blacksmiths Lane, Seaforth just yards away from the polling station, as the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson, who is vying for another term as the Member of Parliament (MP) of Western St Thomas, addressed a small group of community members. Robertson, who was being accused of being absent in the constituency, was assuring the people of the work that he had put in over the years. “I have been a father to this lane for almost 30 years, long before I was elected as MP,” he said. Robertson’s proclamation was met with shouts and nods of agreement from a few of the people who had gathered. However, one man, who was holding a cup of what appeared to contain alcohol, approached the candidate with slurs contrary to what he had proclaimed. Another resident of the community exclaimed that the man was drunk and asked him to move away. The accusing man refused, which escalated to a brief fist fight. Robertson ensured that the dispute was settled before leaving the location.
Those who think cosmology could not get any weirder than it already is (01/15/2008) may want to take note of recent pronouncements by the gurus of universal physics. Physics teachers in particular may feel an obligation to state Bob Berman’s disclaimer (10/06/2004) before class: viz, “Warning: The following contains contemporary cosmology. Reading it can produce disorientation and confusion. Nobody knows what’s going on and nothing you read here is likely to be true.”Questioning sacred Q.M.: The development of Quantum Mechanics in the 1920s and 1930s was one of the iconic scientific revolutions that is hailed as one of the greatest achievements in physics. It had far-reaching consequences for science, philosophy and even religion. Numerous books have stated that it undermined determinism once for all. The uncertainty principle was embedded in the very core of fundamental physics, we were told. Einstein struggled in vain to find “hidden variables” that would explain the apparent indeterminacy of QM behavior. QM has an impressive record in technology, providing the basis for lasers, Josephson junctions in computers, quantum cryptography and much, much more. How, then, could Nature News dare to state on May 15, “why quantum mechanics might be wrong”? Sure enough, an alternative hidden-variables theory called Bohmian mechanics is vying for attention. One of its promoters feels he can test his predictions against those of QM with observations of the cosmic background radiation. At stake is not the huge body of evidence and mathematics behind QM’s success, but the Copenhagen Interpretation – the leading explanation of quantum mechanics that had almost reached the status of accepted truth. The contest is just beginning. Bohmian mechanics is the underdog. Stay tuned.Time travel: In QM, we were taught that observing a quantum event collapses the wave function and gives “classical” reality to alternative outcomes. The textbook illustration is Schrödinger’s thought experiment of a quantum cat in a box being both dead and alive until an observer peeks in and gives reality to one of the two states. The Copenhagen Interpretation of QM has led many to teach that observation creates reality. Now, however, Nature News just reported a “breakthrough experiment” in which researchers pulled back a Schrödinger-Cat type of phenomenon from the brink of classical reality back to a state of quantum indeterminacy. What does this mean? For one thing, it means that “our understanding of how classical reality emerges may be naive.” One British physicist said, “It tells us that we really can’t assume that measurements create reality, because it is possible to erase the effects of a measurement and start again.” Reactions to the paper are mixed. An Australian physicist commented on the experiment, “The quantum world has become more tangible, and the nature of reality even more mysterious.” Nature whimsically subtitled sections of the article with the concepts of reincarnation and time travel.Fractals fracture assumptions: An article in New Scientist Space offered up a weird conjecture: is our universe arranged in a fractal pattern? The question is not without empirical evidence. “A new study of nearly a million galaxies suggests it is,” the article began, “though there are no well-accepted theories to explain why that would be so.” Critics are saying the pattern is an optical illusion. “A lot is at stake,” the article continued, “and the matter distribution has become a source of impassioned debate between those who say the distribution is smooth and homogeneous and those who say it is hierarchically structured and clumpy, like a fractal.” Smooth-and-homogeneous has been the assumption underlying essentially all cosmological models for the past few decades. Looking for patterns in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey of 800,000 galaxies and 100,000 quasars, two Russian cosmologists claim the data show a fractal pattern out to 100,000 light-years at least. A fractal model of the universe will be hard to sell to traditional cosmologists. “Many cosmologists find fault with their analysis, largely because a fractal matter distribution out to such huge scales undermines the standard model of cosmology,” the article said. “According to the accepted story of cosmic evolution, there simply hasn’t been enough time since the big bang nearly 14 billion years ago for gravity to build up such large structures.” Moreover, it would “leave cosmologists without a working model, like acrobats without a net.” Much of the case for smooth-and-homogeneous is based on patterns in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The article revealed some problems with how that was established. Cosmologists may have missed a fractal pattern, if there is one, by projecting the 3D CMB map onto a 2D surface. Measurements of distant radio galaxies to probe homogeneity are also too uncertain to rule out alternatives, the article said. The implications for dating the universe and for big bang cosmology if the fractal interpretation were to become accepted could hardly be overstated – to say nothing of how this would affect scientists’ confidence in being able to understand the universe and make progress in their scientific explanations. The traditionalists are wagering a case of wine that the apparent fractal pattern is not real.Question time: Time always runs forward, right? The second law of thermodynamics dictates that Humpty Dumpty will never be put back together by the forces of physics. Your coffee will never unstir itself, and you will grow older, not younger. Not so fast, argued Sean M. Carroll in Scientific American last month. “One of the most basic facts of life is that the future looks different from the past,“ he began. “But on a grand cosmological scale, they may look the same.” This could only mean that for those parts of the universe where time moves forward, an equal number could have clocks that run backward. Why? Because the laws of physics don’t care which way time runs – they work equally well regardless. Entropy, furthermore, remains a puzzling concept. Why should things move toward disorder instead of becoming more orderly over time? Carroll repeated his criticism of inflationary cosmology mentioned in our “Paper View” segment from 05/11/2006 (see also 04/18/2008). He also reiterated the problem that for the universe to be in its current state of low entropy now, the entropy at the beginning would have had to be inconceivably low. He criticized inflation as an assumption impersonating an explanation: “Inflation does not, by itself, explain why the early universe has a low entropy; it simply assumes it from the start.” Nor does the once-popular proposal for an eternally oscillating universe get around the entropy problem. Along with Jennifer Chen, a colleague from the University of Chicago, Sean Carroll has instead proposed a time-symmetric universe. The parts of the universe in which time runs forward are balanced by regions where time runs backward. “Entropy can increase without limit through the creation of new baby universes.” The jury is still out on this model, however, because “Cosmologists have contemplated the idea of baby universes for many years, but we do not understand the birthing process.” Goo-gol, this is getting too weird. Time out. On second thought, would a time-out act the same in a domain where time flows backward? Growing younger till you become a romantic thought in your parents’ minds sounds kind of cool.Readers may recall that in March, Nature printed an article by a cosmologist who seriously questioned a bedrock of cosmological assumptions, the Copernican Principle (03/15/2008). Is nothing in science sacred? For a revealing article on the feeble state of modern cosmology, see what Michael J. Disney wrote last fall for Sigma Xi American Scientist. He described big bang cosmology as not a single theory but a structure of five layers held together with the “ugly bandages” of inflation, dark matter and dark energy. “A skeptic is entitled to feel that a negative significance, after so much time, effort and trimming, is nothing more than one would expect of a folktale constantly re-edited to fit inconvenient new observations,” he charged. The real problem, he ended (quoting historian of science Daniel Boorstin) is not ignorance but the “illusion of knowledge.”It’s sad that Carroll has retreated into the darkness after asking such good questions back in 05/11/2006. He could have been heaven-bound by now by logically thinking through the evidence from fine-tuning for a Creator, but is now wallowing in his intellectual vomit. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. If you have been led down the primrose path in your education to believe that science is all about discovering the truth and making steady progress toward understanding reality, get real. No one can properly reason about reality without the preconditions for intelligibility provided by guidance from an eternal, timeless, omniscient, omnipotent and righteous source. Fortunately, that has been revealed to us by the only One who knows what is real. Come to the light.(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
5 August 2011 Within five hours of its launch, South Africa’s new high-speed rail service between Pretoria and Johannesburg had attracted more than 7 000 commuters. The figure was considered groundbreaking for a public train established to reduce traffic between the province’s two economic hubs. After a few delays, the important city-to-city route was finally opened on 2 August. The first train, which left Hatfield in Pretoria at 5.26am for the Johannesburg suburb of Rosebank, ferried hundreds of commuters to work. According to Gautrain management, the train had accommodated 2 000 passengers by 7.00am, and just two hours later had added another 5 000 to that number. Gauteng Transport and Roads MEC Ismail Vadi was one of the first passengers. “Within 37 minutes from Hatfield we were in Rosebank,” he said, referring to a trip that could take up to two hours or more in peak traffic. Vadi added that he found the much-anticipated ride to be “smooth, fast, comfortable and safe”. At its maximum allowed speed of 160km per hour, it’s the fastest mode of transport in South Africa beside air travel. Commuter Mphengoa Phoko started using the train on its launch day. She used to drive daily from Pretoria to her workplace in Johannesburg, but said she will ride the Gautrain from now on. “It’s convenient and less stressful,” Phoko said, responding to a question from her seat. “After a long day at work I won’t have to concentrate on driving.” The Gautrain route between Sandton and OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, which was launched just before the 2010 Fifa World Cup, has already ferried approximately three-million commuters in little more than a year. The Pretoria-Johannesburg route is expected to surpass that figure before the end of 2011, as it attracts thousands of people who commute to work daily. “Gautrain is the future for public transport in South Africa,” said transport minister S’bu Ndebele, hinting that in future the government may look at introducing such high-speed trains elsewhere. The much shorter route between Rosebank and the Johannesburg CBD is expected to go live later in 2011 after completion of outstanding work, bringing on board thousands of new passengers. Gautrain offers a reliable alternative for motorists who were previously not comfortable with the country’s public transport. “Leave your car at home; you can use it over weekend,” Ndebele said.Years of hard work The Gauteng provincial government, then led by former premier Mbhazima Shilowa, launched plans for a rapid rail system in 2004. “We travelled the length and breadth of the world, looking for technology,” recalled MEC Qedani Mahlangu. She said they inspected train stations in densely populated areas like London and Paris, and also visited countries like Spain and Switzerland to gain insight into rapid rail systems. The Bombela Consortium, which comprises international groups Bombardier and Bouygues Travaux Publics, as well as South African civil contractor Murray & Roberts and the Strategic Partners Group, became a private sector partner to Gauteng’s provincial government in 2005. Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe told journalists the government’s resolution to complete the project was commendable. “You can’t tackle a project like this without political support, you’ve got to have it,” he said. Up to 8 000 people worked on Gautrain during its construction phase. Mahlangu said the consortium also recruited South Africans who had left the country.Focus on infrastructure Now that Gautrain construction is almost complete, the government can focus on other public rail projects. It is to spend R30.2-billion (US$4.5-billion) over the next three years to improve services of the Metrorail trains, which transport millions of South Africans staying in townships around Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces daily. Ndebele said the government’s plan to upgrade metro trains too is so that “you don’t have a Gautrain that’s comfortable and fast, but have a Metrorail that’s pedestrian”. Another critical project is the Moloto Rail Corridor in Mpumalanga province, which would see Metrorail trains transporting thousands of Mpumalanga residents who work in Pretoria. Ndebele’s department is still conducting feasibility studies on the much-needed project, which was first mooted by former president Thabo Mbeki some years ago. The government spends millions of rands each year on subsidies for private company buses for Moloto commuters. “Already we’re paying. We have to ask if that is the most effective way of using taxpayers’ money,” Ndebele said. First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.
You believe your product is to blame for poor sales. Or maybe you believe it is your pricing or your irrational competitor. But isn’t any of those things. It’s how you sell.
The three dope-tainted wrestlers will be waiting with bated breaths to know their fate which is likely to be announced on Thursday and will decide their participation in next month’s Asian Games. Eleven sportspersons, including six wrestlers, were tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned stimulant, during the dope tests conducted ahead of the Commonwealth Games.Provisional suspensions on all of them were lifted after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reclassified the stimulant as a ‘specified substance’. The athletes have so far appeared twice before the antidoping disciplinary panel headed by Dinesh Dayal but no decision has been reached so far.It was only in the last hearing in September that the panel concluded that the tests, which were done on the wrestlers, were incompetition and therefore their cases will continue with other accused athletes. After that, RK Anand, the counsel for all the athletes, had sought more time to prepare the case and the three-member panel agreed to his request.The list of 11 sportspersons includes six wrestlers, three swimmers, two athletes and a weightlifter. Among the six wrestlers, Arjuna awardee Rajiv Tomar, Mausam Khatri and Gursharanpreet Kaur were on Tuesday named in India’s Asiad squad but if any sanction is imposed upon them by the threemember disciplinary panel, they will be dropped from the team.The swimming and athletics federations included the athletes in the final squad for the Commonwealth Games despite a case pending against them with the NADA panel. Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) however, chose to be on a safer side and did not pick any of the four wrestlers who were originally part of the CWG team.advertisementBut their stand has changed as well and WFI president GS Mander is confident that all the athletes will be let off with warnings. “Things have changed now and we are sure that they (wrestlers) will get away with a warning,” Mander said. However, Tomar, for whom it was a heart break to miss out a place in the Commonwealth Games, is optimistic about the outcome.”It was very disappointing to miss out on a place at the Commonwealth Games for which I had prepared so well,” Tomar told MAIL TODAY.”I have spoken to our counsel and he is very confident. Hopefully, we all will come out clear tomorrow,” he added. But there is also a possibility that the case may not be decided on Thursday as well and could well go for another hearing. The documents that Anand is likely to come up with would be cross examined and argued upon by the NADA counsel and could take time.