Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

After an extensive upgrade the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN on the Swiss/French border will today start sending particles into each other at speeds just three metres a second less than the speed of light.

It found the Higgs-Boson two years ago, some forty years after the English scientist Peter Higgs predicted its existence. For me that produced two reactions.

The first that our scientists, indeed our thinkers, are too often disregarded. Increasingly they are being deprived of the few pennies we once gave them to explore our world.

The second was that finding Higgs-Boson created new questions. As we all love to be fitted into a box: in this event three main boxes. The Standard Model has been accepted as a suitable starting point (of course that may be the start of the weaknesses now apparent). Then a supersymmetry concept seems to be holding centre ground, with the more dangerous multiverse competing. An outsider remains symmetry possibly because it can appear to be outside the world of theoretical physics.

The improved LHC may get us closer to an understanding of what makes our world. It will need to be a quantum leap, as dark matter still occupies too much of our unknown.

Another approach, as at Diamond, at Didcot, Oxon, looks at light using a synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

The machine speeds up electrons to near light speeds so that they give off a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. These bright beams are then directed off into laboratories known as ‘beamlines’. Here, scientists use the light to study a vast range of subject matter, from new medicines and treatments for disease to innovative engineering and cutting-edge technology.

This pushes practical physics into new worlds, often with useful consequences.

There’s a danger with both of these wonderful machines: that was plainly stated by a US politician. The USA started to build their own version of LHC in Texas. It was bigger and better (of course) than CERN’s. They ran into technical problems, and turned to their government for funds. ‘No,’ shouted this Senator, ‘Let Europe build it, and then we can steal their results. After all, that’s what they do to ours all the time.’

I’ll not bore you by comparing Europe’s creativity with USA. We must avoid two weaknesses: that results must be economically viable within the term of a government, indeed that investigations, of any sort, need to be overly concerned with money. Secondly stop USA from plundering our resources – a good place to start would be with multinationals paying tax in the country they make sales.

I’m not optimistic.

Diamond is already proving its worth and offers immense potential (much of which will be commercially relevant). The long-term funding must be kept in place. The work at Diamond is vital to the success of the United Kingdom.

Hoxne Treasure

Hoxne_Hoard_24

The next meeting of the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will feature Stephen Govier on the subject of the Hoxne Treasure – the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold ever discovered in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth century found anywhere within the Roman Empire. The Hoxne Hoard was discovered by Stephen’s cousin, a metal detectorist, in 1992, and is now on display in the British Museum.

Stephen will bring along artefacts relating to Hoxne and its historical events, along with display boards of drawings, photographs and illustrations relating to the treasure. His interest in the Hoxne Treasure is in the artefacts and their visual nature, and the symbolism of these items and the coinage, and the mints the coins came from. He will put the Hoxne Treasure in context with other finds in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Stephen GovierStephen Govier is a historical writer and lecturer, who also produces illustrations for publications and books. He has written several books, including two on Hoxne.

The meeting will be held at Leiston Community Centre, King George’s Avenue, Leiston, IP16 4JX (between the Crown pub and the Fire Station) at 7.30pm on Monday 15 June. Visitors are most welcome: £2.50 including light refreshments.

Alde Valley Family History talk

geoff robinsonOn Monday 20 July the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group will hear Geoffrey Robinson’s “Reflections on a visit to Flanders Fields”, which will take the audience on a short tour of some of the monuments and memorials to the WW1 fallen in France and Belgium. He will relate the story of an officer in the Gurkha Regiment, the former Rector of Worlingworth’s youngest son, and how he researched his life and his death, culminating in a visit to the place where he actually fell. This talk will be supplemented by photographs of his visit to Neuve Chapelle in March 2015 for the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Neuve Chapelle Offensive – the battle in which many Leiston men also lost their lives.

Geoffrey Robinson has recently published a book on the lives of the men on the Worlingworth parish war memorial (Worlingworth’s Fallen 1914-1918), and is the founder of the Worlingworth Local History Group. The book is available to read at the Group’s Research Centre in the Old Council Chamber in Leiston IP16 4ER (opposite the Long Shop) from 10 to 12 on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.

Geoffrey’s talk will be at Leiston Community Centre, King George’s Avenue, Leiston, IP16 4JX (between the Crown pub and the Fire Station) at 7.30pm on Monday 20 July. Visitors are most welcome: £2.50 including light refreshments.

Felixstowe Super Distribution Centre

Felixstowe Super DCUniserve have planning permission to open a 40 metre high, 47,000 sq ft, distribution centre at the port of Felixstowe.

That could create 500 new jobs. How will workers get to the warehouse, how will a single-track railway, and an inadequate single road over a vulnerable bridge cope?

The warehouse idea is great – I’d like to see Royal Mail using it for local distribution, serving the town with pollution-free daily deliveries to every street in the locality, as well as serving the Port. That could provide a model for every town in the future.

What will happen to the present transport linkages, already polluted and over-used?

How about using a tunnel-borer from the cross-London project to cut a new tunnel from the Port to (perhaps) Shotley – where there’s loads of empty land, and then to Harwich?

That will allow the distribution warehouse to operate when the bridge is closed by high winds. It will provide an alternative route from the Colneis Peninsular. Make better use of the Harwich railway and road network. Allow passenger ferry passengers from East Anglia easier access and be cheaper.