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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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