Zombie apocalypse begins at the Large Hadron Collider

You might recall when they discovered the Higgs Particle at the Large Hadron Collider, that I wrote about what is a Higgs particle and why does anyone care.

Now a group of PhD students who work there have made a zombie movie shot on site.  The premise goes that radiation from the Higgs experiments has turned a maintenance crew into zombies who now shamble through the maintenance corridors in search of brains, a food source which should, in theory, be quite plentiful at the LHC.

The movie is acted with all the skill that you would expect a bunch of nuclear physicists to bring to the thespian arts.  But they did a pretty good job on the production.

The movie's 75 minutes.  Here's the trailer:

Aristarchus: a bright lad

Some time in the third century BC, a fellow by the name of Aristarchus of Samos wrote a book in which he said the earth moved around the sun. The book's lost. We know about it because Archimedes quoted it with approval in a book of his own called The Sand Reckoner.
Aristarchus of Samos brought out a book in which the universe is many times greater than that now so called. His hypothesis is that the fixed stars and the sun remain unmoved, that the earth revolves about the sun in the circumference of a circle, the sun lying in the middle of the orbit, and that the sphere of the fixed stars, situated about the same center as the sun, is so great that the circle in which he supposes the earth to revolve bears such a proportion to the distance of the fixed stars as the center of the sphere bears to its surface.
That beats Copernicus by about 1,700 years.  It's when you read things like this that you realize how much was lost when the classical world collapsed.

Archimedes clearly bought into the theory. He wrote The Sand Reckoner to work out how many grains of sand it would take to fill up the universe, assuming Aristarchus was right. The numbers were so huge that to do it, Archimedes had to invent a whole new number system. The number of he got, in modern notation, was 8 x 1063 grains of sand, which is amazingly close to modern estimates for the number of known particles (though obviously we now know about massive amounts of vacuum too).

Archimedes finishes:
I conceive that these things will appear incredible to the great majority of people who have not studied mathematics, but that to those who are conversant therewith and have given thought to the question of the distances and sizes of the earth, the sun and moon and the whole universe, the proof will carry conviction. And it was for this reason that I thought the subject would not be inappropriate for your consideration.

Halley's Comet sighted by the Greeks?

So there's a story going about that the ancient Greeks may have spotted Halley's Comet. It comes from a paper published by two academics at Brigham Young University named Graham and Hintz.

The claim relies on an excerpt from Meteorology, written by Aristotle, that a rock the size of a wagon fell to earth in the second year after the 78th Olympiad, and that a philosopher named Anaxagoras predicted it. This caught my attention as much because I use Anaxagoras as a character in The Ionia Sanction! Anaxagoras was a pre-Socratic philosopher. Though only just pre-Socratic; young Socrates was aged between 2 and 4 years old when the meteor hit. Anaxagoras was also well known among the ancient Greeks for his wild idea that all matter was composed of infinitesimally small particles.

The suggestion that Anaxagoras could have predicted a meteor fall is obviously rubbish. But Aristotle mentions in passing that a comet was visible in the sky when the rock fell. As it happens this is in the window for when a Halley's Comet flyby would be expected.

The best you can say is it might have been Halley's comet. If so, it's the earliest known sighting.