Tag Archives: black holes

Cosmological cranes – not skyhooks

In his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea Daniel Dennett draws out the philosophical significance of evolution by natural selection. Darwin himself hesitated to apply his ideas to humanity, let alone to wider philosophical issues.


Dennett describes how natural selection explains phenomena such as development and evolution, using “cranes”, rather than “skyhooks”. How development can arise internally rather than relying on an external “designer” or “manipulator.” He also describes natural selection as the “universal acid.” All this implies the concepts of natural selection can be applied more widely than just biology.

One application Dennett mentions is in cosmology and he briefly describes Lee Smolin’s idea of cosmological natural selection in his book. 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. It is also the year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth (February 12) and the 150th anniversary of publication of his The Origin of Species. So it is fitting to link the two commemorations and cosmological natural selection does this.

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What is the Large Hadron Collider?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN starts up next Wednesday. I have been meaning to post about this but think this video below gives a better outline than I could. (I’m all in favour of using novel and popular methods to communicate science). The rapper is Katherine McAlpine (known as alpinekat). She has a day job as a science writer.

Large Hadron Rap

LHC gets its own rap song Scientific American news.
Let the Proton Smashing Begin. (The Rap Is Already Written.) New York Times article.

Time Lapse video of ATLAS experiment assembly

See also:
LHC First Beam Photos
CERN Twitter
CERN Podcast – Dr. Brian Cox takes guests around the LHC discussing its construction and what discoveries are expected.
Guardian News and comment on the world’s most ambitious scientific experiment: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European laboratory for particle physics near Geneva.
Beautiful photographs of the LHC at the Big Picture.
Lecture on the LHC by Robert Orr, John Ellis – European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Live Webcast of LHC first beam on 10 September.

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