Sunday, August 30, 2015

Expectations and Discoveries... and a Passing

This Sunday's reflection from Freeman Dyson (in "Dreams of Earth and Sky"):
"A typical proton-proton collision in the LHC will produce a large spray of secondary particles, and the collisions are occurring at a rate of millions per second. The machine must automatically discard the vast majority of the collisions, so that the small minority that might be scientifically important can be precisely recorded and analyzed, The criteria for discarding events must be written into the software program that controls the handling of information. The software program tells the detectors which collisions to ignore. There is a danger that the LHC can discover only things that the programmers of the software expected. The most important discoveries may be things that nobody expected. The most important discoveries may be missed."
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....on a side note, Oliver Sacks died this morning; I don't consider that a sad note -- his life and contributions were so glorious, and his approach to death so thoughtful and intrepid, that death is more like a punctuation mark at the end of another inspiring sentence from his rich, productive life and writings.
There will no doubt be profuse tributes/obits in coming days. This from the NY Times:

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