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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Making Worlds, Ending Worlds

Intense emotions at Ground Zero
By Richard Allen Greene for BBC News, New York

Some wore T-shirts honouring the deadTributes were everywhere at Ground Zero as the fifth anniversary of the attacks dawned clear and sunny on Monday, and perhaps inevitably, the large crowds and the intense emotion attracted eccentrics as well as mourners.

Minutes before the memorial service began, a woman began shouting: "Don't hate nobody, love them - remember 9/11! This is the message of God!"

The conspiracy theorists were also out in force, wearing black T-shirts saying "Investigate 9/11" and holding up signs saying "Dissent is patriotic".

Conspiracy theorist protesters provoked angry reactions"The investigation so far has been a cover-up," Brad Gordon said.

"I'm not saying controlled-demolition this or Dick Cheney that," he added. "But we don't know what really happened."

Some at the scene shouted out their support for the protesters, while others called them crazy in the strongest possible terms, and one shouted "take a one-way trip to Afghanistan!"

But despite the chaos, once the memorial service began at 0846 - the moment when, five years ago, the first plane struck the first tower - a respectful hush did fall over the area from all viewpoints.

The loss, the grief, the shock is raw at Ground Zero, five years after the event - and for most, it is very public.

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Machine set to probe secrets of the universe
By Jeremy Lovell, Reuters, Norwich

Deep underground on the Franco-Swiss border someone will throw a switch next year to start one of the most ambitious experiments in history, probing the secrets of the universe and possibly finding new dimensions.

The Large Hadron Collider - a 27-kilometre long circular particle accelerator - at the CERN experimental facility near Geneva will smash protons into each other at unimaginable speeds trying to replicate in miniature the events of the Big Bang.

"These beams will have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier slammed into the size of a zero on a 20 pence piece," Brian Cox of Manchester University told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

"We are going to make mini Big Bangs. There has never been such a jump in particle physics. It will go into an area that we don't really understand," he added. The fundamental goal of the massive machine is to answer the basic but crucial question of how matter was created at the birth of the universe.

Cox dismissed worries that by adventuring into the unknown and creating tiny Black Holes, the machine could even threaten to destroy the planet.

"The probability is at the level of 10 to the minus 40," he said.

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Colourful beginning for humanity
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, Norwich

Evidence is emerging from Africa that colours were being used in a symbolic way perhaps 200,000 years ago, a UK scientist working in the region claims.

Lawrence Barham has been studying tools and other artefacts left by ancient humans at a site in Zambia.

He says the range of mineral pigments, or ochres, found there hints at the use of paint, perhaps to mark the body.

If correct, it would push back the earliest known example of abstract thinking by at least 100,000 years.

Being able to conceptualise - the ability to let one thing represent another - was a giant leap in human evolution.

It was the mental activity that would eventually permit the development of sophisticated language and maths.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

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