Woman attacks TTC driver, passengers with hammer

A woman armed with a hammer allegedly went on an unprovoked rampage on a TTC bus this morning, injuring three people.

The alleged attack began soon after the woman boarded the bus on Grandravine Dr. near Driftwood Ave. around 11 a.m., according to Toronto Police.

The driver is in hospital with swollen hands. Two passengers were also hurt. None of the injuries are said to be life-threatening.

Check back at torontosun.com for updates.



Getting into the realm of weird quantum physics…

Do subatomic particles have free will?
By Julie Rehmeyer
Web edition : Friday, August 15th, 2008
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If we have free will, so do subatomic particles, mathematicians claim to prove.

“If the atoms never swerve so as to originate some new movement that will snap the bonds of fate, the everlasting sequence of cause and effect—what is the source of the free will possessed by living things throughout the earth?”—Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman philosopher and poet, 99–55 BC.

Human free will might seem like the squishiest of philosophical subjects, way beyond the realm of mathematical demonstration. But two highly regarded Princeton mathematicians, John Conway and Simon Kochen, claim to have proven that if humans have even the tiniest amount of free will, then atoms themselves must also behave unpredictably.

The finding won’t give many physicists a moment’s worry, because traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics embrace unpredictability already. The best anyone can hope to do, quantum theory says, is predict the probability that a particle will behave in a certain way.

But physicists all the way back to Einstein have been unhappy with this idea. Einstein famously grumped, “God does not play dice.” And indeed, ever since the birth of quantum mechanics, some physicists have offered alternate interpretations of its equations that aim to get rid of this indeterminism. The most famous alternative is attributed to the physicist David Bohm, who argued in the 1950s that the behavior of subatomic particles is entirely determined by “hidden variables” that cannot be observed.

Conway and Kochen say this search is hopeless, and they claim to have proven that indeterminacy is inherent in the world itself, rather than just in quantum theory. And to Bohmians and other like-minded physicists, the pair says: Give up determinism, or give up free will. Even the tiniest bit of free will.

Their argument starts with a proof Kochen created with Ernst Specker 40 years ago. Subatomic particles have a property called “spin,” which occurs around any axis. Experiments have shown that a type of subatomic particle called a “spin 1 particle” has a peculiar property: Choose three perpendicular axes, and prod the spin 1 particle to determine whether its spin around each of those axes is 0. Precisely one of those axes will have spin 0 and the other two will have non-zero spin. Conway and Kochen call this the 1-0-1 rule.

Spin is one of those properties physicists can’t predict in advance, before prodding. Still, one might imagine that the particle’s spin around any axis was set before anyone ever came along to prod it. That’s certainly what we ordinarily assume in life. We don’t imagine, say, that a fence turned white just because we looked at it — we figure it was white all along.

But Kochen and Specker showed that this assumption — that the fence was white all along — can’t hold in the bizarre world of subatomic particles. They used a pure mathematical argument to show that there is no way the particle can choose spins around every imaginable axis in a way that is consistent with the 1-0-1 rule. Indeed, there is a set of just 33 axes that are enough to force the particle into a paradox. It could choose spins around the first 32 axes that conform with the rule, but for the last, neither 0 nor non-zero would do. Choosing zero spin would create a set of three perpendicular axes with two zeroes, and choosing non-zero spin would create a different set of three perpendicular axes with three non-zeroes, breaking the 1-0-1 rule either way.

This means that the particle cannot have a definite spin in every direction before it’s measured, Kochen and Specker concluded. If it did, physicists would be able to occasionally observe it breaking the 1-0-1 rule, which never happens. Instead, it must “decide” which spin to have on the fly.

Conway compares the situation to the game “Twenty Questions.” If you play the game fairly, you decide upfront on a single object and honestly answer each of the questions, hoping your opponent won’t deduce what you chose. But a clever player could also cheat, changing the object partway through. In that case, his answers aren’t determined in advance. The particle, Kochen and Specker showed, is like a cheating player. They found it out by showing that no single object satisfies all the “questions” (or all 33 axes) at once.

But there’s another possible interpretation. Perhaps the particle’s spin is completely determined — but depends on something else about the state of the universe. That would be like a player in “Twenty Questions” who has decided his object is a donkey whenever his opponent starts a question with “Is,” and that his object a horse otherwise (or using any other arbitrary but consistent rule). For example, if his opponent asked, “Is it something with big ears?” he would say “yes,” but if his opponent asked, “Does it have big ears?” he’d say “no.” In that case, his answers are predetermined even though he has no single object in mind.

Conway and Kochen say that they have now proven that particles’ responses can’t be pre-determined, even within this possible interpretation. “We can really prove that there’s no algorithm, no way that the particle can give an answer that is unique and can be specified ahead of time,” Conway says. “I’m still amazed that we can actually manage to prove that.”

They concocted a thought experiment for their proof. It is possible to entangle two spin 1 particles so that their spins are identical along every possible axis and will remain so, even if they are separated very far apart. Entangle two particles this way, and then send a physicist named Alice with one of them to Mars and leave the other with a physicist named Bob on Earth. That will prevent information from passing between the physicists or the particles, according to relativity theory. Alice and Bob each prod their particles along some axis, which they freely choose. If Alice and Bob happen to choose the same axis, they’ll get the same answer.

Now, imagine that the particles are like the “20 questions” player whose object is sometimes a donkey and sometimes a horse, with a fixed rule deciding when to answer with which animal. Whatever the rule is, it applies to each of the entangled particles and will cause them to have the same spins. It’s as if the “20 questions” player has been cloned, and both players are forced to give answers for the same animal.

But Conway and Kochen have shown this scenario is impossible for particles that are incommunicado. They invoked the old Kochen-Specker paradox to show that if the spin 1 particle’s behavior is pre-determined so that it isn’t allowed to “change its animal,” it won’t be able to give answers that are consistent with the 1-0-1 rule. So if Alice and Bob are lucky in how they choose their axes, they should be able to force the particles either to disagree or to violate the 1-0-1 rule — contrary to experimental evidence.

Kochen and Conway say the best way out of this paradox is to accept that the particle’s spin doesn’t exist until it’s measured. But there’s one way to escape their noose: Suppose for a moment that Alice and Bob’s choice of axis to measure is not a free choice. Then Nature could be conspiring to prevent them from choosing the axes that will reveal the violation of the rule. Kochen and Conway can’t rule that possibility out entirely, but Kochen says, “A man on the street would say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ A natural feeling is, of course, that what we do, we do of our own free will. Not completely, but certainly to the point of knowing we can choose what button to push in an experiment.”

Ideally, a mathematical proof settles all uncertainty, but Kochen and Conway haven’t yet managed to convince many of the physicists they are addressing. “I’m not convinced,” says Sheldon Goldstein of Rutgers University, a Bohmian. He believes the argument implies nothing new, and he’s content with the notion that free will exists only effectively (not theoretically). He and his collaborators have spent many hours discussing these issues with the pair of mathematicians since Kochen and Conway first posted their result four years ago. Their new version, posted on Arxiv.org July 21, attempts to strengthen the result in light of criticisms. Still, mutual understanding has not yet come about. “It’s kind of depressing when people can’t communicate with each other,” Goldstein says. “We know that’s true in politics, but you’d think that wouldn’t be going on here.”

But Gerard ’t Hooft of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1999, says the pair’s conclusions are legitimate — but he chooses determinism over free will. “As a determined determinist I would say that yes, you bet, an experimenter’s choice what to measure was fixed from the dawn of time, and so were the properties of the thing he decided to call a photon,” ’t Hooft says. “If you believe in determinism, you have to believe it all the way. No escape possible. Conway and Kochen have shown here in a beautiful way that a half-hearted belief in pseudo-determinism is impossible to sustain.”


Astronomers Find a New “Minor Planet” near Neptune

Astronomers announced today that a new “minor planet” with an unusual orbit has been found just two billion miles from Earth, closer than Neptune. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, astronomers detected a small, comet-like object called 2006 SQ372, which is likely made of rock and ice. However, its orbit never brings it close enough to the sun for it to develop a tail. Its unusual orbit is an ellipse that is four times longer than it is wide, said University of Washington astronomer Andrew Becker, who led the discovery team. The only known object with a comparable orbit is Sedna — the distant, Pluto-like dwarf planet discovered in 2003. But 2006 SQ372’s orbit takes it more than one-and-a-half times further from the Sun, and its orbital period is nearly twice as long.

2006 SQ372 is beginning the return leg of a 22,500-year journey that will take it to a distance of 150 billion miles, nearly 1,600 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Scientists believe the object is only 50-100 kilometers (30-60 miles) across.

Click here for an animation showing the detection of SQ372 by SDSS.

Becker’s team was actually using the SDSS to look for supernova explosions billions of light-years away to measure the expansion of the universe. “If you can find things that explode, you can also find things that move, but you need different tools to look for them,” said team member Lynne Jones, also of the University of Washington. The only objects close enough to change position noticeably from one night to the next are in our own solar system, Jones explained.

The SDSS-II supernova survey scanned the same long stripe of sky, an area 1,000 times larger than the full moon, every clear night in the fall of 2005, 2006, and 2007.

SQ372 was first discovered in a series of images taken in 2006 by the SDSS, and were verified from images taken in 2005 and 2007.

The researcher team is trying to understand how the object acquired its unusual orbit. “It could have formed, like Pluto, in the belt of icy debris beyond Neptune, then been kicked to large distance by a gravitational encounter with Neptune or Uranus,” said UW graduate student Nathan Kaib. “However, we think it is more probable that SQ372 comes from the inner edge of the Oort Cloud.”

Even at its most distant turning point, 2006 SQ372 will be ten times closer to the Sun than the supposed main body of the Oort Cloud, said Kaib. “The existence of an ‘inner’ Oort cloud has been theoretically predicted for many years, but SQ372 and perhaps Sedna are the first objects we have found that seem to originate there. It’s exciting that we are beginning to verify these predictions.”

Becker noted that 2006 SQ372 was bright enough to find with the SDSS only because it is near its closest approach to the Sun, and that the SDSS-II supernova survey observed less than one percent of the sky.

“There are bound to be many more objects like this waiting to be discovered by the next generation of surveys, which will search to fainter levels and cover more area,” said Becker. “In a decade, we should know a lot more about this population than we do now.”

“One of our goals,” said Kaib, “is to understand the origin of comets, which are among the most spectacular celestial events. But the deeper goal is to look back into the early history of our solar system and piece together what was happening when the planets formed.”

The discovery of 2006 SQ372 was announced today in Chicago, at an international symposium about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. A paper describing the discovery technique and the properties of 2006 SQ372 is being prepared for submission to The Astrophysical Journal.


Premature baby ‘comes back to life’

A premature baby who was pronounced dead “came back to life” Sunday after five hours in Nahariya Hospital.

The baby girl, who was in a cooler at the hospital, suddenly showed signs of life and was being treated in the premature baby unit.

Doctors estimated that the cooler brought the fetus “back to life.”

The mother, 26, from a Western Galilee village, was in the fifth month of her pregnancy when she underwent a series of tests, during which it was discovered that she was suffering from internal bleeding and that the embryo had ceased to show signs of life.

The woman underwent an abortion and the baby, weighing 610 grams, was extracted from her womb without a pulse, hospital officials said.

A senior doctor pronounced the baby dead and she was transferred to the cooler.

Five hours later, the woman’s husband came to the hospital to take what he thought was his dead baby girl for burial.

When the baby was taken out of the cooler, she began to breathe. The premature baby was then taken to the intensive care ward, where doctors were attempting to save her life.


Saudi girl drinks bleach to escape marriage

A 16-year-old Saudi girl drank a bottle of bleach in an attempt to commit suicide to escape a forced marriage to a 75-year-old man, press reports revealed Sunday.

The girl identified only as, Shaikha, said her father was forcing her to marry the old man so that he could marry his 13-year-old daughter in an exchange deal, Bahrain’s Tribune reported.

Shaikha described how her father took her to meet the old man and his 13-year-old in a marriage office where they all had pre-marital tests done, the Tribune quoted the Saudi Gazette as reporting.

Shaikha told the paper how she begged and pleaded not to be forced into marriage but both of the men ignored her pleas.

The 16-year-old appealed to the National Society of Human Rights to intervene and stop the marriage, the Tribune said, adding Shaikha, whose parents are seperated, wants to go live with her mother.

Shaikha’s mother said she should be protected from her father and demanded the marriage contract be cancelled because Shaikha was threatened to marry the man, the paper said.

“Judges can punish men who force their daughters to marry like this,” Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Al Obeikan, Shura Council member said, adding the marriage contract was void because it violated Shariah law, the Tribune reported.

Shaikha’s case is under investigation.


Was young Obama Indonesian citizen??

JERUSALEM – Was Sen. Barack Obama a citizen of Indonesia at any point in his life?

That question has been circulating on the blogosphere with increased fury the past few days, ever since a photograph emerged of Obama’s school registration papers as a child in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim nation – showing the presidential candidate listed as a “Muslim” with “Indonesian” citizenship.

An investigation into Indonesian citizenship law and a review of Obama’s biography and travels suggest the Illinois senator at one point may have been a citizen of Indonesia. That would not necessarily disqualify Obama to run for president, but it could raise loyalty concerns.

A 2007 Associated Press photograph taken by Tatan Syuflana, an Indonesian AP reporter and photographer, surfaced last week on the Daylife.com photographic website showing an image of Obama’s registration card at Indonesia’s Fransiskus Assisi school, a Catholic institution.

In the picture, Obama is registered under the name Barry Soetoro by his step-father, Lolo Soetoro. The school card lists Barry Soetoro as a Indonesian citizen born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His religion is listed as Muslim.

Jack Stokes, manager of media relations for the AP, confirmed to WND the picture is indeed an AP photo.

After attending the Assisi Primary School, Obama was later enrolled at SDN Menteng 1, an Indonesian public school.

Obama’s campaign did not return repeated WND phone calls and e-mail queries the past week asking for a clarification regarding the school documentation listing the presidential candidate’s citizenship as Indonesian.

Obama spokesmen have in the past stated the candidate is a natural-born citizen amid rumors he may have been born in his father’s home country of Kenya, but the campaign has not addressed whether Obama became a citizen of Indonesia at any point.


Four reasons to buy gold now

Four reasons to buy gold now

Remembering that key support has been broken and that in 1974 we had a correction of almost 50% (yes, 50%) in an ongoing bull market, it is with some trepidation that I say gold is a buy down here, just above $800. On top of all the fundamental arguments for gold, which you will all know only too well, here’s why:

• In the short-term we are due a bounce. For gold to sell off like this for five weeks in succession, even with all the volatility of this bull market, has not been seen since May 2006. We are hugely oversold. We got a big bounce then and should get one now.

• The central bank selling appears to have subsided.

• The dollar is hugely overbought and due a retrace. The inverse applies to precious metals.

• August is the best month of the year to buy gold and silver. These wonderful charts are taken from http://www.globaledgeinvestors.com . Gold tends to rally from August to year end.