Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Colliding the beams in the LHC and other progress

UPDATE: See live webcast now before it ends in a few more hours.

Perhaps even right now. It is scheduled for 7 am. I will know soon. Unfortunately, I could not access the site from my IP. Hopefully I can find some way to access the webcam images. At any rate, I'll be paying the physics building, HEP section, a visit tomorrow, on my way to class.

Work is going rather slowly in this area, for the time being, because of so much other work (the fact I am still typing this in the office at 1:30 am when I should go home and sleep!) I'm excited though that I will have a bit time to talk about the simulation process when I do comparative study between the experimental processes involving the colliders and Monte Carlo simulation versus biomedical hospital platforms. Bringing another scientifc field into the investigation could possibly lend insight to my work (and gives me some time, on borrowed time, to think more thoroughly about how I am going to plan the next direction for my work. I think I shall include the master plan here, the one I edited on Sunday because I was sending it out to someone based at an institute whose work I intend to participate it. I'll say more when I am actually beginning participation.

I don't think I can do more about my visualising simulation work until summer. I haven't had time to do more than skim the Phythia manual, though I did manage to read through thoroughly the CMS simulation and experimental data paper pre-Spring Break. As I was informed, most of the physics in there are still old as they do not have enough data at the moment to format new ideas. But it is still interesting to see how much ontology of the epistemology one can attempt to elucidate with the raw data and the graphs. Now there's another new paper by the ATLAS group that I'll have to read. As an aside, I think I should do a more thorough study of the different experimental/theoretical groups involved with the larger LHC project at some point.

I am excited about a proposal I sent in last week, working in tandem with a friend. I hope that comes through as it would provide a major breakthrough for a section of my work. Maybe I should have been better with my organization of the timeline of the project. But we will see and I'll blog more if it works out.

So it's going to be a busy and exciting month ahead.
Narrative of my masterplan
The purpose of this project is to attempt a study of scientific epistemology. In order to narrow down the focus from where we could begin my exploration, we have decided to concentrate on the field of abstract knowledge, particularly on mathematical-physics. I hope to also understand and expand on the possibilities of phenomenology of physics. I see the best way to structure the research, arguments, ‘factoids’ and discussion on this project through the use of a narrative style to explore the different strands of thoughts, analysis and possibilities because it could systematize the charting and analysis of non-linear, indirectly cumulative, and episodic movement of the various interactions between the knowledge producer as well as the human and non-human agents. Moreover, the narrative style allows me to set up a blueprint that allows this project to develop and expand; building from a more static exploration, critique and analysis to a platform that can participate in the progress, track the movements and even model the kind of knowledge that come out from the multiple tracks of this investigation.

In mapping the topography and storyboard for this graphic novel, I have chosen to work on the Large Hadron Collider because
• of its position as a non-human agential knowledge producer;
• as a way of taking an object that seems ahistorical in its very existence and then chart its entanglement with different forms and kinds of knowledge;
• the interaction between its human interactors and the many facets of the LHC’s body that spans geographical regions.

While I am interested in the very proof and epistemology that informs quantum electrodynamics, quantum chromodynamics, gauge field, high energy physics, general relativity, topology, number theory, and non-linear algebra, for example, I am also interested in tracing the movement of raw data as it undergoes the transformative process from the time it is generated, the various levels of mediation in which it undergoes, the forms of mediation it undergoes as it transforms from incomprehensible numbers to summarized and detailed reports, how it goes from data-transforming into knowledge-transforming into epistemology is worked out as they traverse the interfaciology of humans and machines/computers.

The enterprise can be constituted as much as as the history of ideas as the philosophy of sciene. Hence, I am charting this terrain by taking the Large Hadron Collider as the main but not only protagonist. The narrative will move like a network of discourses, moving along parallel to each other and intersecting at different nodes. The main plots which we will be tracing are:

The brief, highly summarized version of the history of epistemology (by tracing its consciousness) of mathematics and the physical sciences as we know thus far, and how that knowledge becomes legitimized. It may mean tracing the way knowledge has grown from the earliest known civilization, both well-known and lesser-known. May also try to trace how and why the ‘physical’ is also ‘mathematical’

The Macropicture
The Large Hadron Collider as a knowledge producing machine. There will be a narration of its politics, its mechanics, its physics, engineering and the social scientific milieu in which in inhabits. Throughout this narration, I will be following the path of the data undergoing its transformative process from the time in which plans were made to build the LHC, to the time when the LHC is constructed, to the time when it was first powered up. We will be looking at the various disciplinary epistemologies (material science, accelerator physics, computational physics, high energy physics, elementary particle physics etc) already in existence that went into its construction, management, and use. I would also like to trace the microhistories of each of these epistemes.

The ongoing narrative would center on specific physics problems or anticipated outcomes. I want to think about the attitude of the LHC (since LHC is more than an installation of a large machine but also a network of human actors) towards this knowledge problem? Perhaps—since the LHC produces knowledge—we can attempt to view it not only from the direction of a 3rd person that humans observer but also from the direction of the first person, the LHC’s experience of itself. The LHC would thus be the first subject that could really present us with knowledge (of consciousness?) that we have both first and third person access to in such degree of detail.

Where does the LHC stand in contrast with other ‘intelligent’ machines? I think the key to this project is crystallizing these questions of scientific epistemology into a string of epistemic ontologies.

The Micropicture
1.a. The LHC interfacing with other computers that collects, accumulates and ‘plays’ with the data.
b. The various mediations the computers go through to mediate the data that has been passed on to them by the LHC.

2. a. The humans as they worked with the epistemology that went into the
building of the LHC and how they try to interpret the raw data produced (the quest for the Higgs Boson). Also the interactions between scientists in the knowledge production process.
b. The humans as they interact with the computers and the LHC to collect the data and interpret results.

Thought experiments – how can one conduct thought experiments with machines and also the epistemological/ontological processes involved in the conducting of the thought experiments. Thought-experiment provides the opening for the encoding of what one calls an alternate universe. In this alternate universe, one is able to consider almost unlimited, and physically ‘impossible’ juxtapositions of theories and experimental practices. Such juxtapositions are meant to expand and complicate determined boundaries in epistemic practices.

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