Antimatter: The Real Giant Leap

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Nov 182010

One Small Step for Man, one Giant Leap For Mankind

When Armstrong said those words (except I missed out the ‘a’), it looked like men & women would be walking tall on all sorts of astronomical bodies in a continuation of the Apollo programme.  As we no know, things didn’t quite work out like that though, and the Moon is still the only place we’ve been except our dear Earth – although unmanned and earth-based exploration continues in great leaps and bounds.

CERN Makes Antimatter Last

But although announced with a small fanfare, the news that CERN has made antimatter atoms in the form of anti-hydrogen last for getting on for half a second made me blink twice.  See BBC News item here.

It’s my guess that this is the real “small leap for mankind” that will eventually lead to the real “giant leap”.

We are now talking the Star Trek language that everyone understands;  antimatter, containment fields, annihilation.  Soon we’ll have dilithium crystals and the stock market to sell them in!

Consequences of Antimatter Creation

But seriously, it’s one hell of a leap.  The big puzzle is why matter (and thus ourselves because we are made of it), is here.

Why is there any of it, anyway?

… …  because in every experiment that we’ve done, matter and antimatter cancel each other out!    Exactly!

So the physical laws that we’ve invented or discovered, right back to the Big Bang, all say that we should not be here.  Any of us.

Current physics says that our universe  should only contain the energy from the mutual annihilation of matter & antimatter.  But there is also matter, which is tightly rolled up bits of energy….

Self-evidently, we are here, which means that matter had a slight excess over anti-matter just after the Big Bang.

So I think that somewhere within the physics of our creation of antimatter, lies the answer to the matter/antimatter conundrum, of that I’m sure.

We’ve made a few atoms so far and watched them annihilate with matter on contact.  The next steps will be to make and keep zillions indefinitely until they are needed.  What for?

Starships perhaps?


Now suppose we make these starships.  Our current selves are very destructive, both towards our environment and ourselves.

  • We live on our Earth, us in the West consuming like locusts while those less well off try a rapid catch-up.
  • We have never had a year without a major loss of life through conflict, disease or other disaster.

In short, though we may well have the technology and explorative urge for interstellar travel in the future, our present state of intense animality leaves us unsuited to such endeavours.  It’s unlikely that any expedition would arrive at its destination intact.  They’d self-destruct.  It’s what people do.

We must change ourselves before we can aspire change our location in the universe, or else our present location (the Earth), will be a blackened desert.  Un-departable.

Soka Gakkai

Today is exactly  the 80th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai.

It’s a Buddhist organisation with its philosophy wrapped up in its name of  “Value Creation Society“.

Let us all use three words as tenets, a true mantra for a civilised survival on Earth for generations to come.

When the time arrives for the Earth’s ultimate destruction, if we haven’t made a “Value Creation Society” that would allow our escape, then we are quite simply, stuffed.

So join the millions of Soka Gakkai Buddhists today as they celebrate their inheritance from one man, then another and another.

Makiguchi was his name and he died for his principles in a Japanese gaol in 1944.  He and his disciple Toda were hounded by the animality of the times and only Toda was left at the end of WW2.

From him, and then Ikeda, the Soka Gakkai  owes its existence, and we all need such principles if the magic of antimatter creation and containment is to mean anything in the future.  It’s a truly wonderful thing.

Jul 202009

WordPress Upgrade Error

Neil A. Armstrong - Astronaut Edwin Eugene ´Buzz´ Aldrin, Jr. on Moon (1969)

Neil A. Armstrong - Astronaut Edwin Eugene ´Buzz´ Aldrin, Jr. on Moon (1969)

I had messages from one of my managed sites that it went invisible and chucked out weird messages….  Well  that’s certainly up to the normal standard of feedback I get as a tech person!

However, I too when doing this website got an annoying message on the recently introduced WordPress auto-update feature – it ran out of memory!

The message went:

Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 2355395 bytes) in myRoot/wp-includes/http.php on line…

Now I’m loath to download stuff and re-install files when a method exists to eliminate this tedium.   So….

  1. I hunted for a file list so that I could replace just the changed one – couldn’t find it – “that’s odd” I thought.
  2. Fished around a bit more for it – no joy.
  3. Saw single posting about the XSS vulnerability – ah!  This is important and they’ve whacked it out fast before talking about it!  Security first, chat second.  THIS IS GOOD!.  This is one of the reasons I like WordPress – actions speak louder than words!
  4. Tried looking for a generic fix using the error message – this link in the forums provided the fix!

So that’s the answer for me, and it worked.  This is the code change you need to do:

In wp-settings.php which is one of the files in your WordPress root installation (i.e. not in one of the sub-folders), set the memory limit like so (it’s at the top of the file, just after the comments):

if ( !defined('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT') )
       define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M');

The ’64M’ is the new value. Previously it was ’32M’.

There are other fixes, but this worked for me, and if it works, ultimately, that’s all I’m bothered about!  It’s the old answer of “chuck more memory at it”….

Apollo 11

As an aside, on the 40th anniversary of men walking on the moon, the lunar module computer has ~76k of memory!  This is Don Eyles, whose first proper job as a young man was to program that computer….  How times change.

© 1977, Strangely Perfect.