Monday, September 29, 2008

Upset Bug Weekend!!!

LSU Tiger Stadium

LSU's Richard Dickson

LSU's Charles Scott

LSU's Jarrett Lee shakes hands with Head Coach Les Miles

By the time LSU coach Les Miles stepped to the podium to address the media Saturday night following a 34-24 triumph over Mississippi State, the final upset of a topsy-turvy weekend was complete.

The victims were a Who’s Who of college football royalty — Southern California (ranked No. 1 last week), Georgia (No. 3), Florida (No. 4) and Wisconsin (No. 9).

Once Alabama put the finishing touches on a stunning 41-30 triumph against Georgia between the hedges in Athens, Ga., fans and media had the green light to start calculating where and how much the national rankings would shift after four top-10 teams stumbled this week.

The Tigers weren’t one of those teams, of course. And where they would be ranked today was a hot-button topic of discussion in the postgame of a gritty victory that required a full night’s work.

Not that Miles wasn’t about to take the bait.

“I really don’t care about ranking at this point,” he said after LSU upped its record to 4-0, 2-0 in the SEC. “If we can just win ’em one at a time from this point forward, we’ll take care of our own ranking. There’s so much more in front of us to play.”

Echoed Tigers tailback Charles Scott, who continued to build All-American credentials with 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns against State, “I don’t really look at our ranking. The only thing that matters to me is where we’re ranked at the end of the year.”

After the dust settled on Saturday and votes were cast Sunday, there aren’t many teams left in front of LSU and the top of the polls.

When Sunday’s updated rankings were released, the Tigers had climbed to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and No. 2 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

Boosted by the huge win at Georgia, Alabama (5-0, 2-0) vaulted to No. 2 in AP and No. 3 in the coaches poll. The Crimson Tide got 21 first-place votes in the media rankings, but only two from the coaches.

In the initial Harris poll released Sunday, LSU was No. 2 with three first-place votes, behind Oklahoma with 102 first-place votes. Alabama was third with seven firsts.

Oklahoma (4-0) climbed from second into the top spot in both polls, earning 43 first-place votes in the AP and 57 from the coaches.

None of that may matter much right now to the Tigers, who have a bye week before heading to now 12th-ranked Florida for an Oct. 11 showdown of the previous two BCS national champions.

But as much as there is always a professed focus on the opponent in the field of vision, knowing USC had tumbled at Oregon State on Thursday and that Ole Miss had knocked off Florida earlier in the day Saturday was hard to completely ignore.

Even Miles said the subject of the earlier upsets came up before Saturday night’s evening kickoff. “We went through the SC (game) very specifically, and I’m certain that, without mention, that the Florida-Ole Miss (game), the guys understood that,” he said.

Understood, yes. But knowing what had happened earlier might have developed into a distraction.

“Of course we were all thinking about it,” Scott said. “We saw USC go down big Thursday night and saw Florida go down against Ole Miss. Actually we were all watching the Ole Miss-Florida game. I think that might have kind of thrown our focus off. We were more focused on everybody else than we were on Mississippi State.”

There shouldn’t be any danger of losing focus now.

LSU has 12 days to rest up, heal and prepare for the next road test in a brutally tough stretch of the SEC schedule. Florida plays at Arkansas this week, but should still have plenty of mad left over when the Tigers walk into The Swamp.

That’s OK with Scott, as was the notion that Alabama and second-year coach Nick Saban are poised in prime position to challenge the Tigers in the West Division.

“We like it,” Scott said. “It looks like it will be us and Alabama. It will be a showdown here against them. When we go to Florida that will be a huge game and then Georgia comes to play here. You can’t look at it like you are in control because crazy things happen, as you can see. We just have to take it one game at a time.”

LSU’s victory Saturday was flawed and uncovered more deficiencies for a defense not accustomed to giving up much yardage.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-2) never allowed the Tigers to completely run away and hide with a steady, albeit not flashy, offense.

MSU had scored only one touchdown in a 10-quarter span until notching one right before halftime Saturday and then two in the fourth quarter.

State did not turn the ball over Saturday despite entering the weekend with 12 giveaways in four games, which matched South Carolina for worst in the SEC.

The Bulldogs spent over 16 minutes on the field in the second half — anchored by an 18-play, 74-yard series that ate up 9:11 and seemed to put the LSU defense on its heels at times.

The Tigers had trouble defending short passes to running backs coming out of the backfield, as nine of State quarterback Tyson Lee’s 17 completions went to backs for 83 yards and a touchdown.

“Defensively, we made some mistakes,” Miles said. “These things are things we can fix. We’ll have some time to do that.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

What an exciting weekend in college football!!! I'm just thankful that the Tigers weren't bitten by the upset bug!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Hurricanes Washing Louisiana Life Away!

Hurricane Gustav destroyed the Thomas Boyd Oak at the Louisiana State Capitol

Hurricane Gustav satellite

Hurricane Katrina satellite

JEAN LAFITTE, La. — After four big hurricanes in three years, residents of the Cajun towns along the fast-eroding coast of Louisiana are wondering just how much more they can take.

Hurricane Ike's floodwaters slowly gave way Thursday to muddy cleanup, and although the state's share of Ike's damage has been overshadowed by the devastation next door in Texas, the flooding across southern Louisiana was considerable _ tens of thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.

And that was only the latest stroke. Many of the same areas were inundated by Hurricane Gustav less than two weeks earlier, and rebuilt after Katrina and Rita did widespread damage to the Gulf Coast in 2005.

The home of the traditionally French-speaking Cajuns is a land under siege.

"This community is beaten," said Albert Creppel, the town constable in Jean Lafitte, about 25 miles south of New Orleans. His house, which he had finally repaired nearly three years after Rita, now had two feet of standing water.

"It's too much," he said, shaking his head. "My wife says she doesn't want to come back."

Of course, the cultural and environmental threats to the region are not new.

The cycle of storms and erosion has for decades stripped away the barrier wetlands that protect the inland settlements, while an increasingly homogenized America has been chiseling away at the Cajuns' unique linguistic and cultural traditions for almost as long.

With each storm, the threats grow.

"If it keeps on like this you're losing a whole culture, a whole way of life," said Tracy Kuhns, who lives in the bayou-side town of Barataria and is director of the conservation group Louisiana Bayoukeeper. "It's just going to wash away."

Nearly a week after the storm, state officials were still tallying the damage to the mainly rural coastal parishes, or counties, that lie just above sea level where the Mississippi and other rivers drain through alligator-filled bayous to the Gulf of Mexico.

Some residents were being allowed to visit their homes by boat to inspect the damage. Water had receded in some places, while others remained flooded, particularly in southwest Louisiana, near the Texas border.

"We've got places flooding that never flooded before," said Kuhns. "They need to do something about restoring our wetlands."

Tens of thousands remained without power, but the numbers had dwindled sharply in recent days.

More than 700 people who didn't heed warnings to get out had been rescued from floodwaters since Ike struck on Saturday. Authorities appeared to be winning a battle against collapsing coastal levees that still threatened some areas. At least six deaths in Louisiana were blamed on Ike.

Ike also uprooted the dead. An estimated 200 coffins were unearthed and swirled away by Ike's storm surge in two southwest parishes, forcing coroners to hunt for bodies.

"It's been a nightmare," said Annette Claverie, inside a flooded food store called Herb's in Jean Lafitte.

The town, named for the pirate and hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, is a resilient mix of oil field roughnecks, fishermen and those who like to live by water.

Ike flooded Claverie's store with more than two feet of water, destroying almost everything inside. By midweek, a cooling north wind was blowing water back into Bayou Barataria, but the damage had been done.

"We're just too low," said a tearful Claverie, who also lost her inventory during Gustav for a combined hit of $400,000. "Without our wetlands, which used to be our barrier, we do not have the protection we had in the past."

Over the past century, nearly 2,000 square miles of Louisiana wetlands have disappeared. Hurricanes, unstable soil and canals cut for shipping and oil exploration all have been blamed.

Environmental groups say that by 2050, another one-third of the 250-mile coast is expected to be lost.

"My family's story is the story of coastal Louisiana," said Windell Curole, 57, a biologist and levee board member in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. "But the land where we settled is all gone now. We have had to keep moving up, moving away."

Curole, a Cajun who says he was the first family member in seven generations to learn English before French, said wetlands loss is making even minor hurricanes dangerous.

"I first saw it in 1985, when Juan hit," Curole said. "It was a relatively weak hurricane, but it caused extensive flooding 40 to 50 miles in."

The long-term task of fixing the shattered coast is daunting. Wetlands restoration and extension of levee systems appear years distant, and will cost billions of dollars.

Whether the bayou communities can hold on until then is anyone's guess.

The fishing industry has taken the biggest hit, especially since Katrina and Rita. Federal officials this week declared a fisheries disaster, making commercial fishermen in Texas and Louisiana eligible for federal aid and opening the tap for loans for small fishing businesses.

But Claverie worries that Ike will still drive many of them out of business and out of town.

"Each storm knocks a hole in our community," she said. "They buy their groceries from us, and without them, it's a hole in our business."

But Ramona Guidry sounded defiant as she checked the damage to her childood home and began restocking the house for her 77-year-old mother. Standing on the porch as water sloshed across her lawn, Guidry said she will never part with her family home no matter how many hurricanes come.

"This is where I went to school. This is where I grew up," she said. "This is where we want to be."

Check out the article at Fox News.

It's very sad what is happening to our beautiful coastline. If we don't do something to stop the erosion, I'll have a view of the Gulf of Mexico from my own backyard!

On another sad note, Hurricane Gustav destroyed the famous Thomas Boyd Oak, which has stood for over 250 years!

Be sure to check out Remembering Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Forget September 11

Never Forget 9-11

Never Forget 9-11

Never Forget 9-11

Never Forget 9-11

Never Forget 9-11

The country honored the nearly 3,000 victims of the worst terrorist attack on American soil Thursday with ceremonies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to mark seven years since Sept. 11, 2001.

At the White House, President Bush led a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m., the time that terrorists flew the first commercial jetliner into one of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center. The second plane crashed into the other tower at 9:03 a.m.

In New York, victims' families and dignitaries paused for four moments of silence Thursday morning to commemorate the precise times that two hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, along with the times that each tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m.

"Today marks the seventh anniversary of the day our world was broken," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It lives forever in our hearts and our history, a tragedy that unites us in a common memory and a common story ... the day that began like any other and ended as none ever has."

Family members and students representing more than 90 countries that lost citizens on Sept. 11, 2001, gathered in Lower Manhattan for remarks and a recitation of the names of the more than 2,700 people killed in New York.

Shortly before 9 a.m., families of Sept. 11 victims went down seven stories into the cavern where the towers stood — called Ground Zero ever since this day in 2001 — using the construction ramp on the south side of the 16-acre site to touch the place where their loved ones died before returning to street level.

Bush said Thursday that history will look back at America's response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks and conclude that "we did not tire, we did not falter and we did not fail."

After the White House remembrance, Bush headed to the Pentagon in Washington to dedicate a memorial to each life lost when American Airlines Flight 77 hit that building — a symbol of American military prowess — in the third strike that morning.

The Pentagon monument consists of 184 benches, one for each victim, that overlook small reflecting pools. The Defense Department's headquarters were struck about an hour after the attacks in New York.

A fourth plane that was apparently headed for the White House or the Capitol building in Washington crashed prematurely in a field in Shanksville, Pa. A ceremony was also held there.

Barack Obama and John McCain, the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, will appear together at Ground Zero in New York on Thursday afternoon once the ceremony is over to honor those who died.

The campaigns agreed to halt television advertising critical of each other for the day.

McCain also attended the service in Shanksville for the 40 people killed there aboard United Airlines Flight 93.

Obama called on Americans Thursday to renew "that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose" that followed the attacks. McCain asked every person "to be as good an American" as the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 after they rose up against the hijackers.

In Pennsylvania, at least 200 people gathered Thursday morning at an observance in a reclaimed minefield in Shanksville where Flight 93 came down after passengers reportedly stormed the cockpit to thwart terrorists' plans to use that plane as a weapon like the others. Bells tolled and victims' names were read as part of the service.

Some mourners in New York wondered if the remembrance would, or should, continue as it has indefinitely. About 3,500 people attended last year's ceremony, a roughly 25 percent decrease from 2006.

Other victims' relatives worry that Sept. 11 will revert to being just another date on the calendar.

The New York ceremony included the reading of 2,751 victims' names, one more than last year. The city restored Sneha Philip, a woman who vanished on Sept. 10, to its official death toll this year after a court ruled that she was likely killed at the trade center.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at the commemoration, as he has every year, along with officials including Bloomberg and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Joining the president at the White House and the Pentagon were first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, members of Congress, Cabinet members, military officials and about 3,000 White House employees and guests.

The Pentagon ceremony included a wreath laying, music and a reading of the names of those who died on the plane and inside the building. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke.

"This memorial tells the story to future generations," Gates said. "They won't directly feel the heat, smell the smoke or know the horror of that day, but they will know, as the inscription says, that we claim this ground."

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mourned those who "one morning kissed their loved ones goodbye, went off to work and never came home" and the airline passengers "who in the last moments made phone calls to loved ones and prayed to the Almighty before their journey ended not far from where it began."

The Pentagon Memorial was built at a cost of $22 million on a 1.9-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Defense Department building and within view of the crash site.

Memorials are years away from being built in Pennsylvania and New York. As in past years, two bright blue beams of light will shine at night on the New York City skyline, in memory of the fallen towers.

Check out the article at Fox News.

Never Forget 911!!!

For some excellent images, check out:

Be sure to check out a very interesting article: Foiled Terror Plots since 9-11

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big Bang Machine!

Large Hadron Collider Successfully Completes First Test

Large Hadron Collider

Large Hadron Collider Start-up

The God Particle could be found by the Large Hadron Collider

Fictional Anti-Scientific Propaganda - Cool Artwork Tho!
The sky is falling! Quick, get under a blanket!

The world's largest particle collider successfully completed its first major test by firing a beam of protons all the way around a 17-mile tunnel Wednesday in what scientists hope is the next great step to understanding the makeup of the universe.

After a series of trial runs, two white dots flashed on a computer screen indicating that the protons had traveled the full length of the $3.8 billion Large Hadron Collider.

The startup was eagerly awaited by 9,000 physicists around the world who now have much greater power than ever before to smash the components of atoms together in attempts to see how they are made.

The organization, known by its French acronym CERN, fired the protons — a type of subatomic particle — around the tunnel in stages, several miles at a time.

Now that the beam has been successfully tested in clockwise direction, CERN plans to send it counterclockwise. Eventually the two beams will be fired in opposite directions with the aim of smashing together protons to see how they are made.

"The beam is the size of a human hair," Paola Catapano, a spokeswoman for the host European Organization for Nuclear Research said after the protons were fired into the accelerator below the Swiss-French border at 9:32 a.m. (3:32 a.m. EDT).

It'll be months before any usable data comes out from the experiments, but the so-called "Big Bang machine" already has physicists salivating at the prospect of unlocking the mysteries of the universe — and many other people worried it'll create a black hole or strange self-replicating particle that will gobble up the Earth.

Professor Stephen Hawking, easily the world's most renowned living physicist, came down squarely in the "it's a good thing" camp Tuesday in a interview with BBC Radio: "Whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe."

The researchers' top aim is to find the Higgs boson, a sub-subatomic particle that's essential to the so-called Standard Model of nuclear physics, but which has never been seen.

Previously unknown particles are also expected to pop up, if only for a millionth of a second, from the high-energy collisions of protons and antiprotons.

A pair of Russian scientists even think the LHC would be the world's first time machine, and that we should expect visitors from the future to arrive soon after it goes into operation.

For that, $10 billion dollars has been spent to build the machine, the largest supercollider on Earth ever since the project to build an even larger ring in Texas was canceled in 1993.

But the very fact that it would create unknown particles, as well as incredibly dense microscopic black holes that would almost instantly evaporate, has raised many fears.

"It's nonsense," CERN chief spokesman James Gillies told the Associated Press.

A columnist on Wired magazine's Web site said that "the likelihood of these black holes becoming the more well-known kind of black hole is nearly nonexistent."

Brian Cox, a glamorous particle physicist who literally was once a rock star, told London's Daily Telegraph that he and his colleagues had been receiving death threats.

He then bluntly characterized anyone who feared the LHC would destroy the world with an unprintable term for a female body part.

That hasn't stopped several people, including a former nuclear engineer from Hawaii and a German biochemist, from speaking out against the project.

"Someone will spot a light ray coming out of the Indian Ocean during the night and no one will be able to explain it, retired Professor Otto Roessler told London's Mail on Sunday. "Very soon the whole planet will be eaten in a magnificent scenario — if you could watch it from the moon. A Biblical Armageddon. Even cloud and fire will form, as it says in the Bible."

"The compression of the two atoms colliding together at nearly light speed will cause an irreversible implosion, forming a miniature version of a giant black hole," reads a lawsuit filed in March in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by Walter L. Wagner and a Spanish colleague, Luis Sancho.

The case, in which Wagner and Sancho demand that the LHC stop operations until an independent safety review is conducted, is still pending.

Wagner first became famous a decade ago when he filed suit against the opening of the smaller Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider on Long Island, claiming it too would destroy the world when it started up in 2000.

Public reaction, true to form, has been mixed.

"This reminds me of the Millennium Bug! I love hysteria — it makes me laugh and I need a good laugh," said "Johan of Brisbane" in the comments to an Australian News Corp story.

Best of all was the posting on the same page by "KnowerOfAll": "Chuck Norris doesn't look for God Particles — he creates them."

Gillies told The Associated Press that the most dangerous thing that could happen would be if a beam of protons at full power were to go out of control, and that would only damage the collider itself and burrow into the rock around the tunnel.

Full power is probably a year away.

"On Wednesday, we start small," Gillies said. "What we're putting in to start with is one single low-intensity bunch at low energy and we thread that around. We get experience with low-energy things and then we ramp up as we get to know the machine better."

Huge amounts of data will pour in — so big that the lab's computers can't sift through it all. So scientists, who will monitor the experiment at above-ground control centers, have devised a way to share the load among dozens of leading computing centers worldwide.

The result is the "LHC Grid," a network of 60,000 computers to analyze what happens when protons are hurled at each other. That computing power is needed if scientists are to find what they are looking for among the mountains of data.

"You can think of each experiment as a giant digital camera with around 150 million pixels taking snapshots 600 million times a second," said CERN's Ian Bird, who leads the grid project.

Sophisticated filters discard all but the most interesting data, still leaving some 15 petabytes to be analyzed. That's enough to fill 2 million DVDs.

The data will be sent to 11 top research institutions in Europe, North America and Asia, and from there to a wider network of 150 research facilities around the world for scrutiny by thousands of researchers.

Collaborating on such a large project has proved invaluable, said Ruth Pordes, executive director of the Open Science Grid at Fermilab in Chicago. The U.S.-government funded project is among the major contributors to the grid.

"We are doing things that are at the boundaries of science," Pordes said. "But the technologies, the methods and the results will be picked up by industry."

Even if the LHC experiment doesn't yield answers to the cosmic questions, historians may one day see it as a key step in developing networked computing.

It wouldn't be the first time that has happened at CERN. In 1990, young British researcher Tim Berners-Lee created a computer-based system for sharing information with colleagues around the world.

He called it the World Wide Web.

Check out the article at Fox News.

Now, that's some exciting science! So exciting that it has captured the imaginations of people around the world!

Even Google got in on the act!Google features the Large Hadron Collider start-up

Coincidentally, this was the subject matter at the center of the plot in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, which will be made into a 2009 movie of the same title! The story is the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, and is very well written... Check it out!