Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fingers crossed in place in WA

Piers Akerman is in full hand-wringing mode about the impasse over the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Aside from declaring that “Gillard IS the national disability” (nudge, wink), he asserts

WA already has a more generous scheme in place.

Gosh, how very advanced of WA. So, one wonders, how “in place” is this western wonder?

The West Australian Government says it will trial a disability insurance scheme with or without the Federal Government. ...

WA’s Disability Services Minister, Helen Morton, says she has put forward four potential locations to her federal counterpart as the state would like to host a trial.

“We’re very keen, we’ve got our fingers crossed, we hope that we’ll be able to get one of those trial sites up and running,” she said.

One has to wonder about the gulf between Akerman’s conception of “in place” and Morton’s “fingers crossed”.

Oh, and how much “more generous”?

The State Government has not said how much money it will contribute to the NDIS.

In contrast with Akerman just making shit up as it suits him, Andrew Bolt at least has stated flat-out that “I don’t know enough,” but he’s “on high alert” anyway.

And so must we all be, with jokers like these ‘informing’ the national ‘debate’.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Higgs discovery further explained

Let’s be clearer on the meaning of the claims made earlier this month:

“We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV...” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti...

“The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.

CMS is, of course, the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN’s LHC. They’ve issued their own press statement, which illuminates further:

CMS observes an excess of events at a mass of approximately 125 GeV with a statistical significance of five standard deviations (5 sigma) above background expectations. The probability of the background alone fluctuating up by this amount or more is about one in three million.

And the ATLAS particle physics experiment at LHC, in its own press statement,

...puts the significance of the signal at 5 sigma, meaning that only one experiment in three million would see an apparent signal this strong in a universe without a Higgs.

Now, pardon me while I warp over to a universe without a Higgs to confirm that. (I may be some time.)