Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Into the Crater

Olympus Mons is the largest known volcano in the solar system, nearly 25 km high. This is a shield volcano like Mauna Kea and Kilauea. Hawaii's volcanoes were created by the Pacific Plate sliding over a hot plume. Because Mars does not have moving tectonic plates, this volcano sat atop its plume for hundreds of millions of years.

I'll be travelling for the next 2 weeks, so the posts will come less often. Seeing the world is a much better use of time than sitting at a computer. For your entertainment, there is a huge controversy in physics about "The Unravelling of String Theory". This was triggered by the publication of Peter Woit's book "Not Even Wrong" and Lee Smolin's "The Trouble With Physics". Reviews are in Time, New Scientist and Scientific American.

Here's one comment from Joanne at Not Even Wrong:
"If the worst case scenario plays out, and the LHC discovers nothing, then that is the end of particle physics as we know it. And that includes string theory. They may think they are immune, but they are not - they will fall due to lack of funding with the rest of us."

High energy physics enjoyed a free ride for decades because we gave the world nuclear power. This success encouraged physicists to build more expensive experiments to seek even more theoretical particles. The Large Hadron Collider and its search for a Higgs Boson are the latest examples. Physicists would like to spend hundreds of millions on "dark energy," even though it does not exist.

There are avenues of research far more fruitful than what has been fashionable. These lead to understanding of the very beginnings of Earth and the Universe. There are sources of energy far greater than nuclear power. I'm standing atop an energy source that most scientists still don't understand. Physicists need to get their heads out of the equations, take a risk and listen to Nature.

It is a cloudy day and I am inside Kilauea Crater. A 2-dimensional photo can not begin to describe this place. We are completely surrounded by hot vents billowing steam. We are only beginning to understand what is all around us. It is a great disappointment that we are not walking on Mars, but science still plods along.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi riofrio! thanks for visiting People Covered in Fish. Your blog is AWESOME. I look forward to reading more as bandwidth on the ship allows. I am always happy to have pretty scientists visit - just ask Mahndisa!

I... I read "A Brief History of Time" once...

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This success encouraged physicists to build more expensive experiments to seek even more theoretical particles.

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