Friday, December 25, 2009

Dit jaar wel studie- en afstudeerbegeleiding

A rare post in Dutch - if you know anyone in The Netherlands that really needs to graduate or otherwise finish their studies, this message is for them ;-)

Met trots presenteer ik de website van het bedrijf van mijn vrouw Mirjam: ditjaarwel.nl!

Na het nodige proefdraaien met de eerste klanten is het bedrijf nu 'ready for business'. Dus als je iemand kent die dringend af moet studeren, of anderszins over een hobbel in de studie geholpen moet worden, wijs ze dan vooral op Dit Jaar Wel.nl! Ook erg geschikt voor ouders die vinden dat het nu wel mooi geweest is met de studie van zoon of dochterlief.

PS: Leuk om te melden dat ik als 'officiele computernerd in huis' er niet in geslaagd was iets fatsoenlijks en betaalbaars te vinden om een website mee te maken. Mirjam kwam na een rondje googlen met Yola.com, wat precies is wat we zochten. Aanrader.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Addicted to the LHC

Over the past few weeks, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), also known as the 'most puissant particle punisher that pounds the protons', has been starting up (again).

The LHC is housed at CERN, and consists of a 27km long tunnel that is so big it needs two countries to contain it, France and Switzerland.

It's goal in life is to smash protons and later lead ions together at stupendous energies.. to see what happens. I bet they have written a loftier description of their aims themselves, but this is what they do.

At a cost that is hard to calculate, but surely more than €10 billion, it is cheaper than propping up a small bank.

The scale of everything they do there is huge. The tunnel is lined with arrays of machines, each of which would be the the proud possession of any physics department in the world. And it all has to work to deliver the big goal: smashing particles together at hitherto unobtainable energies.

Both because of "typos" in newspapers and because of the excitement this machine generates in the nerd crowd, the Large Hadron Collider has also been called the Large Hardon Collider. And it deserves the name.

I'm going to stop gushing now, but it is a seriously impressive setup. I haven't even started about the computing grid that calculates what the collisions resulted in, and if new physics has been discovered.

So, getting back to the title of this post, why am I addicted? In all their 'web 2.0' wisdom (they invented 'web 1.0' over at CERN, btw), the LHC people have decided to be incredibly open. With a little effort, you can find up to the second statistics of all their activities, down to a minute by minute logbook of operations.

And for some reason or other, this makes the LHC like a reality series for me. There is even a form and a chat room to hang out and gossip!
Link
So, to join the fun, head over to the (unofficial) LHC Portal which contains links to all the good stuff! The best page to start is "Page 1" (which can also be found on the LHC Portal).

Have fun!