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Saturday, July 31, 2010


I got blocked from using the Internet at the first motel I stayed at on this trip.

Apparently, if you try to open way, way, way, way, way too many tabs in a browser, open an e-mail program at the same time, then open a feed reader looking at several hundred feeds, the surge in traffic in the system generates an automatic block.

I called the tech people and got unblocked, but then it happened again right away and I gave up. iPhone tethering saved the day.

    Posted by Mark Thoma on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 11:55 AM in Travel, Web/Tech | Stumble, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Tweet, Share, Like | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (0)

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Lost and Not Found

    I somehow lost the packet of Ph.D. core exams that I need for our meeting later today. That's not good. Not good at all. I've retraced my steps several times and can't find them. I sure hope I left them at home. Grrr.

      Posted by Mark Thoma on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 02:43 PM in School, The Dumb Things I Do | Stumble, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Tweet, Share, Like | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (4)

      Wednesday, July 14, 2010

      Truth in Advertising

      Ron Paul says he has to hide his true intentions from voters -- he can't be forthright about his desire to cut government programs -- in order to win the election:

      “After the primary, I really wanted to jump right into the national debate,” he says. His civil-rights remarks, he admits, “have made doing that a little more difficult.” However, “No one [in the GOP] is forcing me to do anything. I do exactly what I want, but I am also realistic about what it takes to run a campaign and get elected.” For instance, instead of calling for the elimination of many federal departments — as his father, Ron Paul, the libertarian Republican congressman and former presidential candidate, regularly does — Paul says he is trying to “nibble around the edges,” to “not be the person who says he will eliminate every department in the federal government. My dad freely will say that, that he would eliminate at least half of the departments, but he is just more forthright.”

      Candidates don't usually admit that they have to mislead people about their beliefs and intentions to have a chance of winning.

        Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 05:22 PM in Economics | Stumble, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Tweet, Share, Like | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (0)

        Wednesday, July 07, 2010

        "Proton Smaller Than Thought—May Rewrite Laws of Physics"

        If this holds up, I wonder if physicists will become more humble about their abilities. But I already know the answer:

        Proton Smaller Than Thought—May Rewrite Laws of Physics, by Kate Ravilious, National Geographic News: All atoms are made up of nuclei orbited by electrons. The nuclei, in turn, are made of neutrons and protons, which are themselves made of particles called quarks.
        For years the accepted value for the radius of a proton has been 0.8768 femtometers, where a femtometer equals one quadrillionth of a meter.
        The size of a proton is an essential value in equations that make up the 60-year-old theory of quantum electrodynamics, a cornerstone of the Standard Model of particle physics. The Standard Model describes how all forces, except gravity, affect subatomic particles.
        But the proton's current value is accurate only by plus or minus one percent—which isn't accurate enough for quantum electrodynamics, or QED, theory to work perfectly. So physicists have been searching for ways to refine the number.
        In a ten-year experiment, a team led by Randolf Pohl of the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, used a specialized particle accelerator... The team knew that firing a laser at the atom before the muon decays should excite the muon, causing it to move to a higher energy level—a higher orbit around the proton. The muon should then release the extra energy as x-rays and move to a lower energy level.
        The distance between these energy levels is determined by the size of the proton, which in turn dictates the frequency of the emitted x-rays. But based on the accepted proton radius, the experiment failed to produce x-rays at the anticipated frequency.
        In the summer of 2009 the team decided to widen their search to include other possible proton sizes. To their astonishment, the scientists detected x-rays at an assumed proton radius of 0.8418 femtometers—4 percent smaller than expected.
        "We were totally surprised and don't have any explanation for it currently," Antognini said. The proton finding won't impact most people's daily lives. But if it proves correct, it means something fundamental is wrong in particle physics. ...
        Over the coming weeks physicists all over the world will be scrutinizing the experimental setup and complex calculations, making sure that there are no mistakes. Assuming no errors are found, the scientists may have to get to work rebuilding the Standard Model.

          Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 01:57 PM in Science | Stumble, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Tweet, Share, Like | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (4)

          Friday, July 02, 2010

          It's Not Our Phones, It's Our Crappy Network?

          Can someone explain how Apple's "our new iPhone isn't the problem, it's our crappy network that's causing all the dropped calls" is much of a defense?

          And if it's due to a defect in the signal strength software on all iPhones, why is just the new phones where people are noticing this problem?

            Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, July 2, 2010 at 02:53 PM in Web/Tech | Stumble, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit, Tweet, Share, Like | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (5)