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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Large Hadron Collider

The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) project began to be thought up way back in the 1980's.  Though just these past couple of years have seen the first experiments conducted in the 27-kilometre long tube, the intellectual beginnings date back 2.5 decades.

When fully functional, the LHC will accelerate a stream of particles to 99.99% the speed of light in one direction around the 27km long tube, and do the same to another stream of particles in the other direction.  When at full speed, the two stream will be made to intersect each other, and the particles will collide.  What happens after that is what scientists are anxious to find out.

LHC experiments will address questions such as what gives matter its mass, what is the invisible 96% of the Universe made of, why does nature prefer matter to antimatter and how is matter evolved from the first instants of the Universe's existence.

The Large Hadron Collider (The Hadrons are particles, the collider points to the fact that it collides particles, and the large is...well, 'cause it's large) is the largest and highest energy particle accelerator ever built on Earth.  Physicists hope that the LHC will answer fundamental questions about the relationship between quantum mechanics and general relativity, among other questions.  One of the most important expected results from the LHC experiments is finding out if the Higgs-Boson particle will show up or not.  Whether it does or doesn't, the outcome will likely change many particle physicists' theories forever.  If it does show up, it will complete the Standard Model, what many scientists think is the most likely theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear interactions which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles.  If it doesn't, then according to Michio Kaku, a famous leading physicist ranked second only after Stephen Hawking, the Standard Model will be refuted and scientists will have to concede that what they thought about the way subatomic particles worked was completely wrong.  Kaku finds the latter outcome just as exciting as the former, if not more.

Initially, there were fears that the machine could create tiny black holes that could grow to indescribable sizes, consuming the entire earth, but LHC officials say that if black holes are created, they will collapse and disappear almost instantly, and cause absolutely no damage.

LHC Timeline

Monday, July 5, 2010

Promising Electric Cars

With the news always doing stories on global warming and the numbers that describe our unending thirst for oil, it seems like anything morally righteous these days has to do with being "green" in some way.

Well, I decided to jump on the green band-wagon, and write about electric cars, which I find absolutely fascinating. Not so much the engine technology, as it seems much simpler than the usual internal combustion, but moreso the fact that they still haven't been adopted by the mainstream. Why? They're better in every way that counts! The only downside is range, but personally, I don't need more range than what is talked about, and if you take a look at the statistics, YOU almost certainly don't either. So let's introduce you to some interesting EV's...

[NOTE:I've ordered things so that cars that I find the most intriguing come first]

Tesla Model S

This cherry flavoured beauty is the Tesla Model S.  Not only does it have the curves of a supermodel, but it also sports a driving range of 483km (300 miles) or 260km or 370km depending on the version, can go from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds with a top speed of 120mph (190km/h), and is my personal favorite car of all time.  It's not just pretty, fast and sporty on the outside, it's also an EV.  It's love at first sight, don't you think?

It's got a 17 inch LCD screen, and 3G internet access.  You know what this means?  It means that it can use maps, and you'll be able to download all sorts of apps for your car.  It also means that your car can txt message you when it's fully charged.  It's definitely geared towards the older working professionals, and with a passenger capacity of 5 plus 2 jump seats for kids in the back, it'd appeal to those with kids to pick-up/drop-off.  I don't have kids, but pulling up in this beauty would help any guy find a potential baby-momma ;) .  It's price is a bit steep for some, coming in at just under $50,000 after tax rebates (which vary by location), and it can charge with a 220V socket (like the one your oven uses) in about 2 hours, or 45mins. if you use the 440V quick-charge.

Nissan LEAF

Say hi to the Nissan LEAF.  The first mass-marketed fully electric, zero-emissions vehicle, to be released in the U.S. in December of 2010, and sometime in 2011 in Canada.  It's top speed is 140km/h (76mph), the car has a range of 160km or 100 miles (more than enough for daily commuting), and can be charged with a 110V plug, a 220V plug (like the big one, used for your oven) or a special 440V quick charger.  The 110V will charge the car in about 15 hours, the 220V will charge it in 8 hours, and the 440V can charge the car from flatline to 80% in a blistering 30mins.  Oh yeah, and each charge is about $3.  Compared to 30$ at the pump, not bad...I guess :p .

The retail price has been announced to be around 32,000 USD, but since it's an EV, buyers will get rebates from the government, varying in sizes.  The U.S. customers will get rebates up to $8,000, while buyers in Canada will have to check with their province to find out what their rebate will be.  Ontarians will get up to $8500, and those in B.C. will likely get a good return, since Vancouver has set out a goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020, and with the province supporting the initiative, cutting pollution from vehicles has become a necessary challenge.

Chevrolet Volt

Unlike the Model S or the LEAF, the Chevrolet Volt has both an electric engine and a gas engine, but it's not like other hybrids.  The electric engine will be the only engine used, at any speed, until the battery dies, which should have enough juice for about 64km (40 miles) on a full charge.  After that, the gasoline engine takes over, and will go for another 900km (600 miles).  So basically, you get an electric car without having to worry so much about the battery dying.  And you can charge it up at home at night too.  The gasoline engine will most likely be a 1.4-litre 4 cylinder engine that will be capable of running on E85 ethanol blended fuel.  Among the options will be a remote-charging and vehicle control program that can be run off of a Blackberry or iPhone, as well as a wireless cell phone link and navigation system.  The price of the Chevrolet Volt is by no means definite, and different insiders have estimated different prices at different times.  So no one's really sure what it will cost, but it'll likely be somewhere between $20,000 - $40,000

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top Ten Reasons NOT to get an iPhone 4

A lot of people are getting schoolgirl giddy about the new iPhone 4, but I decided to play devil's advocate and give you some good reasons to take a look at alternatives too. That said, here's the Top Ten Reasons NOT to get an iPhone 4. Leave some comments and let me know what you think about the list!

10.)You would lose most of your individuality, and become a zombie
9.)Video calls only work when both users are near Wifi, and only to other zombies
8.)You don't wanna sign on for another three years
7.)Reviewers reporting issues with the display, antenna and reception
6.)Apple products are way overpriced
5.)Steve Jobs disses good software companies like Adobe
4.)It's locked. Unlike Google Nexus One...
3.)Won't support Flash video, so many internet sites won't work
2.)Steve Jobs is a jerk
1.)It's 3G, NOT 4G !!!

P.S. NO Google hasn't paid me anything to write this!!! I just like them, 'cause of all their free software. What did Apple ever do for me?

Now for Reason Number zero: Apparently, the iPhone 3G's internet is faster. And to show you proof, here's video of the keynote address, where Apple's Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone 4. Something unexpected seems to happen...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Absolute Java 3rd Edition Solutions!

Hey new Programmers,

I learned Java last summer by teaching myself with the help of Absolute Java 3rd Edition, and I got up to chapter 11 before beginning my CPSC degree at University of Calgary in September. I was very thorough, and I completed almost every one of the Programming Projects (except for a few trivial problems) up to Chapter 11.

Now, those solutions have been made available on a new page on this blog! Look to the right sidebar to find the link, or click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Science of motivation

I worked in door-to-door sales for a couple of years, where we were paid commission to sell services, and were constantly pushed to work harder, longer and faster. I've also been studying to work in IT, where I've been advised to take my time and work through classroom problems slowly, carefully and thoroughly to maximize the quality of final solutions. Though both experiences taught me essential skills that I'm deeply grateful to have learned, here's an argument for the latter.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Who I am

Okay, so it's been a while since I started this blog, and maybe it's time I told all ( of you out there who I am. The question is: what should I tell you...

Okay, so I like computers, video games and in my spare time I try to stay active e.g. going to the gym, jogging, sports, etc. ...which I don't do enough of. There's other stuff but let's start with the 1st 3.


The 'idea' that's changed life around the world more than anything else in the past century is computing. It is the current revolution, and it's more than a keyboard and screen, it's a good idea. I like good ideas.

Video Games

They let me relax, yet they're stressful. It's fun, yet it's frustrating. Whatever they are, they have an exciting future, and I also think they have great potential. Here's a Tedtalk about gaming. Although I don't think the ideas (or games) that Ms. McGonigal displays here are very far into development, and that her games don't sound like much fun and therefore don't motivate me to want to find them and play them, I do think she's right about the enormous potential of this 'second track of education' that takes place at home, where the average 21 year old in a country with a strong gamer culture has played 10,000 hours of video games already. 10,000 hours! I haven't spent half that many hours programming, yet I want to make it my career. Watch it if you got a few:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Linked Data - Tim Berner-Lee's idea

In 2009, Tim Berner-Lee, creator of the internet :O did a talk about what he called "Linked Data", or the next internet. This is a short update on how those ideas are being put into motion.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eye-popping use of graphs to show eye-popping information

If anyone's ever wanted to know if there was an awesome way to combine a love for graphics with a desire to understand poverty...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some inspiration for the techies...

This is part of what inspires me to continue learning

Energetic student seeks warm summer employer

Hello World!

So here's my very first chance to tell the world what I'm thinking.

I like pie.

To all those crazies out there who are still reading, congratulations! You've made it past that first awkward moment that everyone goes through when they meet me. Consider us bff's. So I'm really just starting this blog to let people know what's up with me in developer-wannabe-land, and yes, I'm a com-sci major, studying at University of Calgary in year #2, though it feels like it's been much longer..... ;P

I'm looking for a job this summer in Toronto, so that I can continue taking classes there (since there's none at UofC I can take in Spring OR Summer session.....grrr!) at YorkU. If anyone out there knows any job leads, I'm interested in planning, analysis, design, implementation AND testing! I've got plenty of time left in my career to narrow it down from that.

I'll be available in Toronto starting May 1, 2010 through the end of the summer, and possibly a bit of September. Daytime, weekends, full/part-time, its all good.