Links have been fixed. :D ~ JT
Hey all you Astronomy nuts out there...
...NASA probe Phoenix has touched down on Mars and is already sending back images. They have dropped Phoenix into an area where they hope to find ice, and have offered up some very optimistic appraisals for their chances. I hope they're right!
Also, the date for the activation of the Large Hadron Collider (See the Wikipedia entry here) has been pushed back to late August with no date set in stone yet. Preliminary test runs are going incredibly smoothly. The machine has already been used to smash particles at lower speeds and everything appears normal. A few people have asked me how happy I will be if we do, in fact, discover a Higgs Boson Particle (or "God Particle" as Physicists refer to it), since such a discovery would put a lock down on many theories about our universe, as well as being further evidence for string theory and, hence, multiverse theory, which will take us many steps closer to affirming that no creation was necessary for our universe. My answer is that we've already established this. A closed manifold universe is just one possibility out of several that would preclude a creation event, so yet another one won't really change anything.
Oh, there's also some people pissing and moaning about how it might destroy the Earth, and this has gotten a fair amount of media time. The thing is, the equations that suggest that a collision at 7 TeVs (Tetraelectronvolts) would cause a black hole to form also predict that the black hole will immediately evaporate courtesy of Hawking Radiation. As Phil Plait points out, those worried that a created black hole won't evaporate shouldn't be worried they'd be created in the first place. For more on how we have nothing to worry about, listen to what the Bad Astronomer has to say about it. We're gonna be ok here, and we're going to learn a lot about how reality works¹.
Speaking of Science, you'll recall how Ben Stein said that science leads you to kill people. Never mind that science has provided us with every single means (as in, religion has provided none of them) by which we have lengthened our lives and allowed the disabled or otherwise afflicted with handicaps to live, but new discoveries by scientists that allow us to survive in an indifferent universe are being made continuously. A recent example comes from a 16 year-old boy from Canada who has determined a means to make plastic deteriorate faster - we're talking like, 1,000 years faster². The benefits to the environment will be phenomenal since 97% of the plastic bags we've ever made still exist (the other 3% were incinerated - See "Polymers are Forever" by Weisman).
Such is the power of science, and why I can't help but shake my head when people assert that science is a matter of faith. Science provides actual results we can test and it is bound by how reality appears to work, unlike any religion. I submit to you this young lad's experimental steps as an example:
¹ There are people who claim to have knowledge about the universe's origins or how reality functions that no Cosmologist has, though they have no data or experiment to corroborate that claim - they call this "faith". They go under many different names such as Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. While the label is different, the use of "faith" as an attempt to support their claims is consistent. Many of them say that science, such as the LHC, is equally bereft of explanatory power and is also a matter of faith. They are wrong .