Sunday, 11 December 2011
THE TOWER OF BABEL, BABYLON AND THE ARROGANCE OF MANKIND
Physicists to Make Major 'God Particle' Announcement Next Week
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
Date: 08 December 2011 Time: 04:01 PM ET
Scientists at the Swiss lab that hosts the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will announce their latest findings in the search for an elusive subatomic particle called the Higgs boson or "God particle," next week. Already blogs and online news outlets are abuzz with speculation about the big announcement.
The CERN lab in Geneva has cautioned that LHC's ATLAS and CMS experiments have not accrued enough data to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs boson, an as yet undetected particle thought to give all other particles their mass.
Even so, the BBC is reporting that a "respected scientist from the CERN particle physics laboratory has told the BBC he expects to see 'the first glimpse' of the Higgs boson next week."
The LHC is a 17-mile (27-kilometer) long underground circular tunnel where particles are smashed into one another at near light speed. The collisions produce enormous amounts of energy, releasing various exotic particles that may include the Higgs boson.
Detecting the Higgs boson would be huge, physicists say, because particles with mass are an integral component of the physical world. The particle's ability to explain so much about the universe earned it the moniker, at least among the public, of the "God particle." [Twisted Physics: 7 Mind-Blowing Findings]
The particle is thought to have a mass of between 114 and 185 gigaelectronvolts, or GeVs. (One GeV is equivalent to the mass of a proton, the positively charged particle in the nucleus of an atom.)
Tantalizing data spikes between 120 and 140 GeV suggest that the Higgs mass might lie in that range, the LHC teams reported in July. However, the data at that stage was not reliable enough to make any scientific claims, and could simply represent statistical glitches, the scientists said.
Before that presentation, in April 2011, a leaked note from one of the teams suggested that a Higgs boson announcement might be forthcoming. Yet there has still been no definitive word on the Higgs from LHC or elsewhere.
Since then, the teams have been collecting more and more observations of what's called events, when particles collide. Here's how CERN scientists describe the importance of more data:
"Imagine that all selected events were like the contents of a small lake," they wrote on a physics blog called Quantum Diaries. "If a hidden fish creates a disturbance underneath, we will see a wave on a calm water surface. But of course, if there is some wind, ripples would appear, making it harder to spot the wave caused by a fish. The presence of a Higgs boson would do just that: appear like a wave on top of the calm water. As with the wind, the background creates small ripples one could easily mistake for a signal. The background can also fluctuate following statistical laws, like a random wind. In our case, having more data is equivalent to having more fish in the same spot, making their presence easier to detect."
Many hope the impending presentation will be a big announcement resulting from a sufficient accumulation of data, though so far CERN is keeping a buttoned lip if that's the case.
This story was provided by LiveScience, sister site to SPACE.com. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.
December 8, 2011 6:22 pm
Cern scientists close in on ‘God particle’
By Clive Cookson
Scientists at Cern, the European physics research centre, expect to reveal on Tuesday that they are tantalisingly close to detecting the Higgs boson, sometimes known as the “God particle”.
This subatomic particle, which is seen as playing a fundamental role in the workings of the universe, is target number one for researchers working with the world’s most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider.
Rumours about the discovery of the Higgs particle have swirled around Cern headquarters in Geneva from time to time since the LHC began gathering data in earnest early this year – and disappeared on further investigation.
The mood is more confident now, ahead of Tuesday’s seminar when the findings from the LHC’s two main experiments – involving a vast amount of data about collisions between hydrogen nuclei at close to the speed of light – are reported. These collisions generate microscopic fireballs of intense energy from which new particles form, hopefully including Higgs.
From the Editor
'The drumbeat of bad economic news is growing louder by the day'
Chaitanya Kalbag Edition: Dec 25, 2011
India's Parliament House does not resemble a ziggurat, but it does remind me of the Tower of Babel and how God descended to earth to check things out. He was so alarmed by what seemed achievable by all humans speaking one language, we are told, that he decided to scatter them and "confound their speech". So do not for a moment believe that "divide and rule" was invented by our British colonizers.
You do not owe the Great Divider any thanks if you live in the world's largest "demo-cracy". Every day since the Winter Session opened on November 22, our elected representatives have created mayhem over foreign direct investment in supermarkets (and quite a bit else). I encourage you to go to the Lok Sabha website and look at the "uncorrected debates"; start with http://goo.gl/K343T on the day this was written, click backwards, and you will understand why Southeast Asian leaders like Lee Kuan Yew or Mahathir Mohamad believe that prosperity can never happen in a democracy.
No wonder then that India's business people are starting to give vent to their frustration and anger on microblogging sites like Twitter and at industry forums. The drumbeat of bad economic news is growing louder by the day. Gross domestic product grew at its slowest pace in two years in the July-September quarter, and we will be lucky if we hit 7.5 per cent for the full year to March. All round us there is stress and stasis, and as if to underline the fact that politics is driving the economy into the ground, we are about to hit election season. Five states go to the polls in 2012, including the bread-basket of Punjab, and the 800-pound political gorilla, Uttar Pradesh. Our policy team of Sanjiv Shankaran and Shweta Punj travelled through Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in search of signs of what matters most to people outside Delhi's Lutyens Zone. Anusha Subramanian added perspective from Maharashtra on how huge social-spending programmes like the MGNREGS have changed the economic landscape.
Farmers across the landscape feel squeezed and are resentful - input prices are rising, and they really do not benefit from rising food prices, something that retail FDI is touted as a fix for. As the economy starts to move through a rocky adolescence, conventional wisdom decrees that more people ought to move out of agriculture (which contributes just about 15 per cent of GDP but employs 53 per cent of the workforce) into manufacturing and the services sector. That is easier said than done. Share the BT team's insights.
The two sides of the development coin are very visible at Karchana, near Allahabad. There, villagers are angry over land acquired for a thermal power plant by Mayawati's government that eventually found its way into the hands of Jaiprakash Associates, the construction group that Suveen K. Sinha reports on in our cover story starting. The Gaurs of Jaypee may not be Horatio Alger characters, but they have certainly come from humble beginnings to be one of the country's brawniest infrastructure majors. Jaypee shot into the limelight with the flawless execution of the Buddh International Circuit where India's first F1 race was staged in October. On our cover, Executive Chairman Manoj Gaur is backdropped by the eight-lane Taj Expressway, as incongruous as it is spectacular in one of India's poorest states. Elections may come and go but highways endure, and the whiff of outsized opportunity is luring Japanese investors beset by stagflation and a soaring yen who had held gingerly back from India until the allure became irresistible, as Anand Adhikari discovered starting.
Babylon Says Arab World, Brazil to Boost Language Software Sales
December 11, 2011, 2:50 AM EST
By Shoshanna Solomon
Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Babylon Ltd., an Israeli developer of translation and dictionary software, predicts that sales will continue to surge on demand for language products in the Arab world and Brazil, Chief Executive Officer Alon Carmeli said.
“We have reported a growth rate in revenue of nearly 80 percent in dollar terms since the beginning of the year and we expect a similar growth going forward,” Carmeli said in an interview at Babylon’s offices in Or Yehuda.
The software developer, named after the Tower of Babel biblical story about the creation of different languages, says it has more than 100 million users and operates in about 200 markets. The company provides translation for 75 languages, including the recently added Vietnamese and Swahili.
The shares have gained 72 percent this year, giving Babylon a market value of 387 million shekels ($103 million). The benchmark TA-25 index has dropped 19 percent.
Babylon is boosting marketing efforts in Brazil, where it plans to capitalize on translation needs in a country that will host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. In Arab areas, the company has strong Web traffic and needs to sell products that garner more revenue, Carmeli said. Babylon started using a call center in the West Bank city of Ramallah to push its services.
“The Arab world is a big proportion of our website traffic but not a big proportion of our revenue,” the 46-year-old CEO said. “We need to be more local in the way we do business with them, because many users don’t have credit cards and we need to find alternative payment methods.”
The “Arab Spring,” a wave of protests that displaced regimes in the Middle East and North Africa this year, built thirst for Internet communications, Carmeli said. Leaders of the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s control of Egypt included a blogger who founded a youth movement on Facebook.
“They are suddenly realizing the power the Internet can give you,” Carmeli said. “They open Facebook accounts, then they start to communicate and then they need Babylon.”
The Israeli company has the seventh most popular website in Libya, while it’s No. 8 in Algeria, 11th in Tunisia and 23rd in Egypt, according to Alexa Internet, a research company.
Stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians shouldn’t be a problem for Babylon, said Natali Gotlieb, an equity analyst at Israel Brokerage & Investments Ltd.
“There is a great need for translation services in these countries to breach the language barrier,” she said. “Babylon is an international Internet company, with no border. So the Israeli-Arab issue is a non-issue.”
30 Million Visitors
Babylon, whose customers include Coca-Cola Co., SAP AG and Nokia Oyj, is attracting 30 million visitors to its site a day, said Carmeli, who has led the company for almost four years. It has 15 advertising partnerships including with Google Inc. and Russia’s Yandex LLC Internet portal.
The company had a price to earnings ratio of 21.83 times as of Dec. 8, compared with an average ratio of 14.79 times for comparable Israeli software firms, according to Bloomberg data.
The software developer plans to add advertising partners in Brazil in the coming year and will build distribution, said Liat Sade-Sternberg, Babylon marketing vice president, who will travel to the country this month. Brazil’s booming economy, as well as the World Cup and Olympics events, are a major opportunity, Carmeli said.
“The whole area of languages in this country is going to get a massive push forward,” he said. “All the service providers will have to offer services in English.’”
Babylon has had annual revenue growth of more than 30 percent since 2007 and reported sales of 118.4 million shekels for 2010, according to Bloomberg data. Sales rose to 57.5 million shekels in the third quarter.
--Editors: David Risser, Robert Valpuesta
To contact the reporter on this story: Shoshanna Solomon in Tel Aviv at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at email@example.com