12/16/2012 archive

Rant of the Week: Mandy Patinkin

Actor and singer Mandy Patinkin lets loose with a righteous rant on terrorism and personal responsibility during an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report

No Pro Gun Senators Would Appear on MTP

From Politico

NBC’s David Gregory said Sunday that not a single pro-gun-rights senator accepted a “Meet The Press” invitation to appear on the show.

“A note here this morning: We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning,” he said. “We had no takers.”

One did appear on right wing morning show proffering the inane argument that if the principal had a M4 carbine, an assault rifle designed by the U.S. military for urban warfare, this tragedy could have been prevented. Apparently, he missed the  fact that even well trained law enforcement officers can’t shoot straight under stress often shooting one of their own or innocent civilians and that is only part of the problem with that ridiculous idea. Arming teachers is not a solution but gun rights advocates will still put it out as a solution to avoid discussing better regulation of all fire arms in this country.

Mr. Gregory’s guests were NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who said she would introduce gun assault weapons ban legislation on the first day of Congress.

She should also add a provision for mandatory background checks and waiting periods at gun shows; tighter background checks in general and reporting all gun purchases to Department of Homeland Security or the FBI.

Will this be enough to prevent another tragedy like Sandy Hook? Probably not. It won’t take the assault rifles away from their current owners but it will make it harder to get one.

On This Day In History December 16

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 16 is the 350th day of the year (351st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 15 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships moored in Boston Harbor and dump 342 chests of tea into the water.

The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea coming into the colonies. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and other political protests often refer to it.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. Protesters had successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain. He apparently did not expect that the protestors would choose to destroy the tea rather than concede the authority of a legislature in which they were not directly represented.

The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Coercive Acts, which, among other provisions, closed Boston’s commerce until the British East India Company had been repaid for the destroyed tea. Colonists in turn responded to the Coercive Acts with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress, which petitioned the British monarch for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them. The crisis escalated, and the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.

Only 6 Days Until The End Of The World!

Higgs Hiccup: Contradictory Results Show Up at LHC

By Adam Mann, Wired

12.14.12 2:08 PM

Ever since physicists found a particle that looks very much like the Higgs boson in July, they have been probing its properties, essentially running their experimental hands all over it to check out its features. They do this by smashing protons together at insanely high speeds in the Large Hadron Collider and watching the resulting rain of particles that gets produced. Within this melee, several Higgs bosons appear and almost immediately decay into other particles.

The LHC can detect the Higgs decaying in two different ways. One channel produces two characteristic photons while another creates four particles known as leptons. The two decay paths each give scientists a distinct value for the mass of the Higgs. But there’s a little problem.

“There turns out to be a slight tension between the two masses,” said physicist Beate Heinemann of the University of California, Berkeley, who works on ATLAS, one of the LHC’s Higgs-searching experiments. “They are compatible, just not super compatible.”

The two photon channel is saying that the Higgs mass is 126.6 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), or about 126 times the mass of a proton. The four lepton decay route suggests the mass is 123.5 GeV. A very tiny disagreement that is nonetheless very strange because the Higgs should have one identifiable mass. ATLAS scientists noticed the discrepancy in their data previously and thought it might simply be a problem with calibrating their machinery. Yet even after calibration and analyzing more data, the difference remained.

We looked for one. We may have found two.

Vasudevan Mukunth, The Hindu

December 15, 2012

There was initial surprise in Kyoto about the dilepton-decay data being suppressed. However, the experimental data of the Higgs’ decay into the other combinations of particles coincided (fairly) perfectly with the theoretical predictions, easing physicists toward the conclusion that the Standard Model had done a good job… again.

And now, the reason for suppression has been revealed! On December 13 (exactly a year to the day the first tentative spottings were announced), a new round of data from the ATLAS detector was revealed at CERN, showing that the Higgs boson seemed to be decaying into two photons twice as often as allowed by the Standard Model. Not just that: the elusive particle also seemed to exist at two different masses – almost as if there are two kinds of Higgs bosons, not one.

The “second mass” observation was derived from results of the particle’s decay into four leptons. More specifically, at 4.1 standard-deviations (a confidence level of 99.534 per cent), the mass of the Higgs boson from this channel was calculated to be 123.5 +/- 0.9 GeV, which is conspicuously lower than the mass observed from the diphoton-decay channel (by about 3 GeV).

Before we start jumping up and down: The ATLAS collaboration has also announced that the two masses are compatible only at 2.7 standard deviations, which represents a lower statistical confidence than is required to assert evidence. Moreover, results from the CMS collaboration will also have to be factored in before anything is confirmed, and the next batch of data-release from CERN is expected in March, 2013. And last, it’s quite unlikely that the Higgs would have a twin so close in mass – if you’ve already walked 122.6 m, would you consider another 3 m as requiring a lot more energy than what you’ve already spent?

But, if true, this result invalidates the ‘Standard Model‘.  Brains.

Why a Zombie Movie Made by Physicists is the Best Kind of Science PR

By J. Bryan Lowder, Slate

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, at 2:15 PM ET

Decay is totally ridiculous, in the best sense of the word. The 75-min, $3,500 movie is remarkably well-made, given the creative team’s lack of experience. It’s studded with all the gratuitous gore, cheap shocks, and absurd plot twists that zombie fans crave. Science nerds and those who love them will bask in its shameless use of sci-fi clichés like “the results are inconclusive at best,” and “my research is too important!”

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Joining Chris will be: Goldie Taylor (@GoldieTaylor), MSNBC contributor; Ezra Klein (@ezraklein), MSNBC Policy Analyst and Washington Post columnist; David Sirota (@davidsirota), Author, “Back to the Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now” and host of KHOW-AM’s “The Rundown with Sirota and Brown;” Jane McAlevey, author of “Building the Labor Movement in Obama’s Second Term;” Sarah Deer, assistant professor at William Mitchell College of Law and Citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma; Akhil Amar, a Yale Law School Sterling Professor of law; and Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore City police officer and assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: “This Week”‘s guests are Gov. Dan Malloy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen.-Elect Chris Murphy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.

Joining the roundtable discussion are  Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), TIME Magazine political columnist Joe Klein, ABC News’ George Will, and Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Guests are Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a gun control advocate, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-TX) discuss whether now is the time for a gun control debate on the Hill.

The panel guests are the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross, LeHigh University’s James Peterson, The Daily Beast‘s David Frum and The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg.

The Chris Matthews Show: The guest schedule was not available for this week.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Appearing on  MTP is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On the roundtable are Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); NY Times columnist David Brooks; President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten; Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett; and Sociologist Michael Eric Dyson.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: This Sunday Candy Crowley will anchor “State of the Union” from Connecticut.

What We Now Know

MSNBC host Chris Hayes and guest discuss what they know since last week began.