Dream of the Dragon

Category: future science

The power just comes up through you!

by Justin

An old man, easily 70, jogged past me. It was a slow pace, but with good form and very light footfalls. I caught up to him on the boardwalk, at which point he was engaging a younger man in spirited conversation. The dynamic, at a glance, seemed to consist of the old man as passionate teacher and the younger man as over-achieving student.

“And then, the power just comes up through you!” said the old man, miming a ball of energy rising up through his feet and settling in his chest.

Out at the edge of the horizon, a massive cargo ship drifted south. The dull red and blue of its containers, stacked at least a dozen high, looked more like plastic Legos than welded steel.

The manhole covers in the area are inconsistent, some engraved with the names of local companies, others with only an “S” surrounded by a crude geometric sunburst. But a handful read either WATER or SEWER across the center, with this smaller engraving along the edge: “Made in India.” I like to imagine that the water itself was made in India, then imported to keep our sewers flowing.


Broad strokes and big dreams.

by Justin

It’s been days of dense, often incomprehensible science. Thrilling, magical, and unlikely. The theoretical madness of particle physics becomes so much more real when you’re face to face with the machinery designed to unravel the universe into its fundamental components. The LHC detectors are more swoon-worthy than you can imagine.

Much, much more on that to come. Complete with photos and videos and all that goodness. But when I sat down to write this evening, I was more interested in communicating the value of the work here at CERN. That puzzle is the reason physicists here will find time to talk to a budding journalist. They want to sell the product that fills them with passion and pleasure. A pursuit that inspired a 27 kilometer underground tunnel that collides hadrons.

Into a stream of consciousness, saving the physics for another day: Read the rest of this entry »

Theoretical dreams

by Justin

After an over-long hiatus from blogging and my particular brand of unsubstantiated opinion slinging, I’ve decided to bring this beast back into action.

The gap in writing was filled with local reporting in Chicago and the (attempted) cultivation of “hard news” skills. This involves direct acquisition of information, attribution of anything resembling fact or opinion, and the precise excision of bias. Bias was my angle on this blog in the past and reckless opinion was my style. The reporting of my first quarter in grad school built some new fundamental skills while personal style starved on the sidelines. C’est la guerre.

But now I’m a full time science reporter (student, mostly), covering theoretical physics during most of the week. This is too dreamy. This is the stuff of atom-smashing and event horizons, of antimatter and dark energy. And Chicagoland hosts some of the world’s preeminent experts in these fields. For a few more months at least, the second most powerful particle accelerator in the world, Fermilab’s Tevatron, will operate in Batavia, Ill. – that’s right around the corner. Read the rest of this entry »