b3ta.com user GothicTechie
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» I'm your biggest Fan

The LHC...
I have a lot of fangirl stories of more normal varieties, but that era of my life ended rather messily in ways which are not nearly amusing enough for B3ta. So I won't bother with those. However, I still have a bit of fangirl in me which got directed in a rather odd way last year.

I had ended up on a PhD programme which resulted in me getting a CERN access card last summer. I establised around July when I was working there briefly that I had legitimate access to the CERN control room, but went home in August.

Being a board full of geeks, most of you should know why 10 September was a day I was very much looking forward to. It was the day the LHC would be switched on and the world's media attention turned to CERN. I tried desperately to find an academic reason to be there (free flights), my supervisors annoyingly found an excuse to send me there on 4 September and then promptly back to the UK the next day. But remembering that

1) I still had a CERN access card
2) Easyjet exist and fly to Geneva

I wasn't going to be stopped so easily.

About 10 days before I decided I WAS going, and 2 friends decided to accompany me. I didn't even know if I'd be able to get them in, and heard that the event was going to be broadcast in the auditoria which sounded awfully like we were going to be discouraged from the control room.

Now comes the real obsessive fan bit. We arrived at about 11pm the night before, and knew that even looking for accommodation was pointless. We made our way to the site with the control room, security let all 3 of us through, then the people at the control room willingly let us in! It was 2am...no-one was there except the people actually operating the machine. Oh yes, we were officially the biggest LHC fans IN THE WORLD.

We felt a bit awkward there, deciding we'd just get kicked out later we made our way back to the main site to watch from an auditorium after a few hours attempting to sleep rough outsite the restuarant. It soon became clear that they were letting people in the control room, I went back there after they'd got the beam around once but by then they'd tightened security and my non-CERN friends weren't even allowed on that site. But we could still all say we'd flown to Geneva, been in th LHC control room at 2am, slept rough and been at CERN to see the biggest science event of our lifetimes so far.
(Fri 17th Apr 2009, 8:57, More)

» Gambling

Getting the word "penguin" into a physics paper
Two physicists, Melissa Franklin and John Ellis were playing a game of darts, had a bet that the looser had to use the word "penguin" in their next paper. Apparently Melissa didn't finish the game but someone else took her place and her replacement won. This was probably a good thing because Melissa was an experimentalist and they tend to write papers in extremely large collaborations, any spurious penguin references would probably have been vetoed by about 200 people. As a theorist (and now a bloody high ranking but surprisingly down-to-earth one), John Ellis could do pretty much what he liked. He got high and decided that some of the diagrams looked like penguins, so the conditions were fulfilled. Wikipedia's finest photoshopping shows some slight resemblance: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penguin_diagram

However, the paper in question turned out to be rather influential. Everyone who has studied particle physics to 3rd year undergraduate level will almost certainly have heard of these "penguin diagrams". The entire course of particle physics was made slightly more entertaining by a stupid bet.
(Wed 13th May 2009, 9:07, More)

» Sexism

Actually I don't think men and women are all that different
I see there are some differences in subtle averages of behaviour, but one thing this QOTW proves is that people vastly overestimate these differences. Men and women seem to get on best (as friends and happy relationships) when they take more notice of the similarities than the differences. If you don't understand men/women, have you tried starting from the assumption that they work the same way as you then correct the subtleties from that angle? The people who whinge they don't understand the opposite sex tend to be the people who start from the assumption that men and women work in totally different ways and try to build up the entire model of opposite-sex pyshcology from scratch, failing to realise that applying the model of *human* psychology to both instantly gets you 99% of the way there. Women might sometimes object to being treated like men but we take far more offence to not being treated as human. The differnces seem huge, but that's only because things that are different/annoying/unexpected stand out massively more than things that smoothly go unnoticed.

If men/women make no sense to you, it's probably because they're failing to fit the totally incorrect model you're assuming they fit into, and not showing as many differences from women/men as they're "supposed" to. Also, once you have worked out what the real differences are, bear in mind that variation between individuals is far greater than the average differences between men and women - some men are more feminine than most women and vice versa. So even if you think you have worked out what things make the opposite sex different to yours, don't assume too rigidly that the member of the opposite sex you're currently talking to fits that model perfectly.
(Tue 29th Dec 2009, 14:07, More)

» Irrational people

People complaining about the NHS and why healthcare is better abroad
Admittedly inspired by a post last week, but fits here rather well.

I'm personally in the "yay NHS" camp, but I acknowledge not everyone agrees with me. I realise that those with horror stories have a right to their opinion that maybe the NHS isn't so great and we would be better off with private insurance because the UK system of NHS only and private insurance being BANNED BY LAW means we do loose out on access to some of the higher quality.

Wait, what's the Skippy? Private medical insurance in the UK isn't BANNED BY LAW in the UK?

That's right, if you hate the NHS, fuck off and take out private insurance. I fail to see what's wrong with having both options. If you're complaining because the NHS sucks and you can't afford private, on what planet would you get the private stuff at NHS prices? Bothered about your taxes paying for it? Technically they do, but due to the NHS private insurance is actually pretty good value in the UK because it has to compete with free rather than "go away and die", which is less popular than "free". So you're no worse off, probably better.
(Mon 14th Oct 2013, 18:33, More)

» Sexism

And one last one
I think people have finally noticed that "female comedians aren't funny" appears about 3 times on every page and stopped repeating it. So I'm not stating that they're not funny and thinking no-one else has said it yet, just trying to explain why.

Male humour tends to be a status thing. Men genrally want to be funny to gain popularity and stand out. Their humour is funny to people they don't know as they hope to gain popularity, and is loud and confident.

Female humour is more often a bonding excercise among friends. It is subtle and injokey, but absolutely hilarious if you're in on the jokes. A lot of it only makes sense within the group, a lot is non-verbal.

It isn't that women are less funny than men, it's just that the "male humour" is far better suited to a situation involving going on stage alone and making strangers laugh.
(Tue 29th Dec 2009, 16:09, More)
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