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LHC Success! 1007

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-news-everybody dept.
Tomahawk writes "It worked! The LHC was turned on this morning and has been shown to have worked. Engineers cheered as the proton particles completed their first circuit of the underground ring which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). (And we're all still alive, too!)" Here is a picture from the control room which I'm sure makes sense to someone that isn't me.
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LHC Success!

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:12AM (#24946089) Homepage Journal

    I expected the "turned on" link to be linking to XKCD [xkcd.com].

    My only question is, when the smoke clears and we're all fine, will the doomsayers ever learn for the next time? Probably not. I'm sure next time they'll say
    "this time, its different, the world is really going to end this time".

    • by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:16AM (#24946167) Journal

      It was a triumph, I'm making a note here, huge success!

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:22AM (#24946255) Homepage Journal

      will the doomsayers ever learn for the next time?

      Well, they still haven't made the black hole yet. Just wait. When you get sucked in don't come crying to me. I'll be many, many light years away.

    • this time, its different, the world is really going to end this time

      Honestly, my take is this. If the LHC guys really do manage to destroy the universe in some science shattering stranglet experiment, well...

      That would be rather impressive. It's just too bad no one would be around to bear witness to the fact. ;-)

      Or to put it in the context of Stargate...

      Carter: He destroyed a solar system.
      Jeannie: MEREDITH!

    • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:31AM (#24946391)

      ... will the doomsayers ever learn for the next time? Probably not. I'm sure next time they'll say "this time, its different, the world is really going to end this time".

      Don't knock the doomsayers man! When they think the world is going to end, they start selling (never understood this? The world is gonna end! My couch for $20! Just in case I need to pay a toll on the way to the afterlife..) or giving away all their stuff! I need a new couch so I hope they get all spooked. If I'm lucky, one will have been a gadget nerd and I can get some computer parts too!

    • by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:31AM (#24946397)

      Remember when Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 hit Jupiter? There were people saying (and being interviewed on the BBC no less) that pieces of Jupiter would break off and collide with Earth...

      The claims of some regarding LHC are no less crazy. What distresses me is the level of coverage these nutbars have had on the news channels. I don't know about you, but I've had several people with non scientific backgrounds who've been scared by this 'news' turn to me for some real world information/reassurance.

      When you are dealing with the level of brain dead reasoning that produces such spurious and inaccurate statements about things like the LHC, you can't hope to succeed. Honestly, even if you come up with good reasons, it automatically becomes a cover up to those people, thus excusing even wilder claims.

      • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:37AM (#24946525) Homepage Journal

        True true. I know there have been several instances like this before. And it seems like each time something like this comes up, there are people with "strong evidence". I'm just saying that it seems like we don't really learn from history like they say we do.

      • by should_be_linear (779431) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:50AM (#24946739)
        Exactly, I am in Geneve right now, so the first wh
      • by solios (53048) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:52AM (#24946767) Homepage

        Just remember - when they tested the first atomic bomb, they didn't know if it would ignite the atmosphere or not.

        Fortunately, it didn't.

        We (as a species) haven't done anything on the scale of the LHC before - and since the whole point of the device is to learn more about stuff we don't (relatively) know much about, there's bound to be WILD speculation about the potential results.

        The loons get airplay because the loony airplay gets the ratings - and TV/radio is about ad revenue first and actual content second. ;p

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:24AM (#24947287)

          We haven't, but the universe causes such high-energy interactions to happen constantly without destroying itself.

          The nuke-might-ignite-the-atmosphere thing is something of a special case because they ONLY had raw theory to base it on. They were virtually certain it wouldn't happen, but since humanity had never caused an energetic fission event before they had no definitive experimental evidence to back that up. The LHC by contrast is building on decades of advanced nuclear / particle physics work, to test the specifics of detailed theories. We have a very clear idea about what could happen, and the evidence that it will be completely safe is overwhelming. Due to the very low mass of the particles, the energy released in a 5 TeV collision will "only" be about that of 2 freight trains running into each other, which is certainly energetic but perfectly controllable. As one LHC scientist put it, the risk of you spontaneously evaporating due to random quantum events is much higher than the LHC somehow killing you.

        • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:30AM (#24947395) Homepage Journal

          Just remember - when they tested the first atomic bomb, they didn't know if it would ignite the atmosphere or not.

          Fortunately it didn't.

          No, no they didn't. Stop trying to frame scientists as these irresponsible idiots who could murder us all in one experiment. One person proposed that possibility, and it was thoroughly refuted before the test. From Wikipedia's Manhattan Project page [wikipedia.org]:

          Teller also raised the speculative possibility that an atomic bomb might "ignite" the atmosphere, because of a hypothetical fusion reaction of nitrogen nuclei. Bethe calculated, according to Serber, that it could not happen. In his book The Road from Los Alamos, Bethe says a refutation was written by Konopinski, C. Marvin, and Teller as report LA-602, showing that ignition of the atmosphere was impossible, not just unlikely.[7] In Serber's account, Oppenheimer mentioned it to Arthur Compton, who "didn't have enough sense to shut up about it. It somehow got into a document that went to Washington" which led to the question being "never laid to rest".[8]

          Similarly, there's no chance the LHC can kill us. As you said, "we (as a species) haven't done anything on the scale of the LHC before" but that doesn't change the fact that nature does it all the time. Earth is constantly bombarded by cosmic rays of energy levels higher than the LHC can produce. If it could have destroyed us, it would have already.

          The loons get airplay because the loony airplay gets the ratings - and TV/radio is about ad revenue first and actual content second. ;p

          No argument with that.

        • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @01:53PM (#24949663) Homepage
          Not actually true. Look at Manhattan project (Wikipedia) and I copy here the associated paragraph:

          "Teller also raised the speculative possibility that an atomic bomb might "ignite" the atmosphere, because of a hypothetical fusion reaction of nitrogen nuclei. Bethe calculated, according to Serber, that it could not happen. In his book The Road from Los Alamos, Bethe says a refutation was written by Konopinski, C. Marvin, and Teller as report LA-602, showing that ignition of the atmosphere was impossible, not just unlikely.[7] In Serber's account, Oppenheimer mentioned it to Arthur Compton, who "didn't have enough sense to shut up about it. It somehow got into a document that went to Washington" which led to the question being "never laid to rest".[8]"

          So, in conclusion, they didn't test the first atomic bomb before computations were performed and Edward Teller himself wrote a report to refute his own hypothesis.

      • by mdielmann (514750) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:46AM (#24947669) Homepage Journal

        You could always try this:
        Imagine you're walking down the street in a seedy part of town. You trip over your own feet and somehow, once you've landed, you're having sex with the most beautiful girl you've ever seen. Sure, it's possible, but you won't see anyone changing their jogging route on the off chance.

      • by raddan (519638) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @12:15PM (#24948133)
        Well, in defense of people who use "brain dead reasoning", it's very hard to know how naive you are until you aren't naive anymore. When I got my first bachelor's degree, in philosophy, I thought I understood this well. But when I went back to school to become a scientist, I found out, well, I was completely naive. Things that seemed obvious and logical to me really were not at all logical once I had some training in mathematics. And the math I'm talking about-- calculus, statistics, set theory-- that's all pretty basic stuff for scientists and engineers. But for a layperson? Waaay over their heads. Take the Monty Hall [wikipedia.org] problem. The solution is completely counterintuitive, but the problem is so damned simple. This is why people like my contractor friend thinks us academic types are so full of shit. Most people have no idea how hard it is to actually _prove_ something.
    • by PinkyDead (862370) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:37AM (#24946513) Journal

      If disaster movies have taught us anything, it is that only when the party is over and everyone is a little tipsy, the problems will arise.

      At that point, one lowly scientist (possible of Asian origin) will still be working in his office - despite regular calls of 'Hu! It's all fine, come out here and have some champagne'. He shouts out 'In a minute, I'm just checking something' Then to himself 'This is wrong. This is all wrong. Planck's constant shouldn't be varying like that.'

      And then it all goes wrong.

      Jeez, were you born yesterday!

      Mark my words... come Friday, we'll all be eating black holes for breakfast with lashings of superheated strange milk.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:37AM (#24946519)

      I thought they had already turned it on yesterday... Wait, today is September 10th... Again ?

      • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:53AM (#24947751)

        Yes, it is September 10th again. You are caught in a time loop. The last time through, the world was destroyed by a black hole. This time, you have again failed to stop the activation, so the same thing will happen. At this point you will wake up 24 hours before the LHC is activated, and realize that you alone can save humanity. To do so you must get to the Swiss/French border and blow the thing to smithereens before it can be turned on.

        The presence of this post is of course a major plot hole / deus ex machina, but is necessary to move the storyline along and keep you from going through the time loop fifty times before figuring it all out, as this would make your adventure far too long and repetitive for the people of my alternate universe to enjoy watching footage of.

    • by Zarhan (415465) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:40AM (#24946571)

      My only question is, when the smoke clears and we're all fine, will the doomsayers ever learn for the next time? Probably not. I'm sure next time they'll say
      "this time, its different, the world is really going to end this time".

      For a local astronomy club, I once did a little presentation, I think the title was "bad astronomy in popular culture". While the scope was mostly about stuff like sound-in-space, space planes ála Star Wars, and so on, one of the topics I covered was Niburu - the supposed planet that will kill us all. It actually had little visibility even in mainstream press so it sort of warranted coverage.

      http://www.detailshere.com/niburu.htm [detailshere.com] is the "Doom!" page. Anyway, for my research, I just checked out webarchive.org...and looked at the snapshots from previous years. It was basically updated every year to say that "next year IT will come". As you can see, right now it's saying "2008-2011" :). Compare with the version from 2003 february [archive.org] or from 2005 [archive.org] as examples :)

    • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:43AM (#24946629) Homepage
      Step aside sir, I'm hijacking your first post.

      Here is a picture from the control room which I'm sure makes sense to someone that isn't me.

      The image is produced by an event display program, which provides a nice visual representation of the output of the whole detector (ATLAS in this case) for one event. One event here means one beam crossing, generally, which could include up to several proton-proton collisions, but generally only one interesting one.

      Now, I'm not completely familiar with ATLAS (I'm a CDF guy), but I'm pretty sure the top left section is the muon chambers. These record, well, muons, which are the only thing which interacts poorly enough to consistently punch all the way through the detector and the layers of steel in front of the muon chambers, but strongly enough to be recorded all the way along its passage.

      The top center shows a zoomed in view of the middle of the top left: the calorimeters. Calorimeters record the amount of energy that enters them, and are arranged radially, so that you can see just how much energy (in the form of both mass and kinetic energy) was carried away from the collision in a particular direction. This is accomplished by means of scintillator crystals, which tend to get ionized by the passage of high energy particles, thus absorbing some energy from the particles, and then they reemit that energy as photons, which are collected and measured in photomultiplier tubes. The calorimeters are used to look for most particles, particularly electrons and "jets" (which are a spray of particles resulting from the ejection of a quark from the collision), both of which leave clusters of energy over a significant area of the calorimeter.

      The top right is again a zoomed in view of the middle of the top center: the tracking chambers. These act sort of like thousands and thousands of geiger counters; every time a charged particle passes through the vicinity of a wire in the tracking chamber, it records a hit. You can then piece all these hits together in a line to measure the track of a particle. The offcenter pink and blue line is almost certainly a cosmic ray, which will naturally leave a track in the chamber, but not appear to originate from the interaction point. In the lower left, you can see what is probably two different short track segments.

      The first three images have been more or less slices out of the center of the detector, perpendicular to the beam line. The lower left is a side-on view, showing the somewhat less important parts of the detector that lie at small angles to the beam line, the so-called forward detectors.

      The lower right is probably intended to be a flat plot of the calorimeter, as if you sliced it parallel to the beam line and unrolled it. The height of the bars would then indicate how much energy was deposited in each section. However, at the moment, that plot looks like it is having some sort of overflow problems.

    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:44AM (#24946651) Homepage

      *By definition* the doomsayers are always wrong. If they had ever been correct in the past, we wouldn't be here to talk about it now.

      By the same token, your claim that everything is going to be fine is a one-way bet. You can only be proved right.

      (+5, Inevitable)

  • by numbware (691928) <justin@justinjacobs.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:13AM (#24946113) Homepage

    If I'm correct, no collisions have taken place yet.

  • Epic fail (Score:5, Funny)

    by ZeroFactorial (1025676) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:14AM (#24946121)
    What you don't realize is that everything around the LHC is being converted into strange matter.

    It started with the scientists, so noone has noticed anything different yet.
  • No risk yet. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:14AM (#24946127) Journal

    The only question is, when they start colliding and/or accelerating the beams up toward the speed of light will this be the end of the world? As the XKCD comic says, they haven't really done anything interesting/risky just yet.

  • by ccguy (1116865) * on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:14AM (#24946139) Homepage
    "It worked! The LHC was turned on this morning and has been shown to have worked"

    Here's [hisupplier.com]proof.
  • BFD (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheNecromancer (179644) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:15AM (#24946145)

    I thought that the critics of this project were worried about the effects of COLLIDING the particles. Since that hasn't happened yet, this story is a whole lotta nuthin'.

    • Re:BFD (Score:5, Funny)

      by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:22AM (#24946263) Homepage

      Does this mean I'll have to build up another sigh of relief and let it out again at a later date?

    • Re:BFD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hairykrishna (740240) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:33AM (#24946423)
      The vast majority of the 'critics' you refer have no idea what they're actually scared of. This switch on should reassure them well enough. The loons that make up the other fraction of the 'critics' will carry on doomsaying. Fortunately the majority of the reporters giving them air time don't really understand either so this switch on should effectively shut them up too.

      By the way the story is 'the LHC is switched on'. It heralds the beginning of one of the most interesting science experiments of our age. The story is not really 'we are still alive' as that is no surprise to anyone who is not a retard.

    • Re:BFD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:34AM (#24946445)

      I thought that the critics of this project were worried about the effects of COLLIDING the particles. Since that hasn't happened yet, this story is a whole lotta nuthin'.

      Huh? You do realize that the purpose of building and turning on the LHC isn't to silence black-hole-apocalypse believers, right? The purpose of the LHC is to do new science. Successful containment and acceleration of the beams is an important milestone for this project. That's why this is news.

      Presumably you will still think this story is "a whole lotta nuthin'" once collisions do happen, because those collisions will be at energies already probed by other accelerators. And even once LHC ramps up to full power, it will still be "a whole lotta nuthin'" because those energies already occur in nature (e.g. cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere).

      I think it would be more accurate to say that the worries about black-hole-apocalypse are "a whole lotta nuthin'" whereas a successful activation of the LHC is amazing news for anyone interested in science.

  • by Adreno (1320303) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:16AM (#24946169)
    Based on the images released thus far, I've come to the conclusion that a team of well-trained monkeys working exclusively in MS-Paint are close to modeling the stock market. In unrelated news, the head scientists at the LHC are planning their lavish retirement on Grand Cayman. More at 5.
  • Damnit! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:17AM (#24946173)

    You're all still here.

  • Screenshot (Score:3, Funny)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:26AM (#24946317)

    Well, I'm breathing a sigh of relief to see they're running some sort of *NIX. I was worried a Windows BSOD would mean the end of the world :-).

  • by Khakionion (544166) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:27AM (#24946337)
    http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com

      I love that they had to use Javascript on a webpage that consists of two letters ;)

  • by lyapunov (241045) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:27AM (#24946339)

    When I was an undergraduate studying mathematics one of the most intriguing comments made by a professor was
     
    Cutting edge mathematics takes about 50 years to find its way into physics, from there it takes about 25 years to find its way into engineering.
     
    With the advent of the LHC and other amazing advances, like easy access to substantial computing power, do you think that this still holds true? By this, I mean do you think that life cycle times will shorten, or will they remain the same because even though these advances are being made, they are at higher, or very specific level, and as such, they will not be able to be developed into applications as quickly?

    Thoughts?

  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:27AM (#24946347) Homepage
    The history channel ran a special on the LHC last night - I highly recommend everyone watch it!

    I've always known this project was enormous, but I really didn't get it until I watched this special. They'd spend 5 minutes or show showing this massive facility with 30 foot high equipment - and this would be just like a little instrumentation room - just one of many. Truly amazing.

    Working in "technology" - all the same-'old same-'ol computers we see day-in and day-out look like stupid adding machines next to the scale and complexity of the stuff there.

    Speaking of which - it also went over their "computing grid". Their data storage farm was enormous. They also had ten thousand nodes to crunch the data!

    BTW - What kind of machines did they have you ask? Some slick IBM 1u rackmount chassis? No - just a bunch of cheap, off-white, off-brand tower PCs sitting on rows and rows of shelves.

    I'm sure they (did the smart thing) and did what Google did. High-end machines? No. Support Contracts? No.

    If it dies? Pitch it and get a new one.

  • by Doug Neal (195160) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:32AM (#24946421)

    Am I the only one who's sick of every news story and every discussion about the LHC deteriorating into giving the "end of the world" bullshit even more time of day that it doesn't deserve?

    This is one of the most important and ambitious scientific experiments that has been attempted in a long long time, but it seems that instead of taking the opportunity to get the general public inspired about science and discovery, the mainstream media has used it to spread unfounded doomsday rumours and anti-science propaganda. The fact that it's dominating even Slashdot discussions (albeit mostly in a joking way) is pretty tragic IMHO.

    Prof Brian Cox said it best [telegraph.co.uk] - "anyone who believes the LHC will destroy the world is a twat".

    I've taken a huge interest in all this lately and have been spending hours on Wikipedia reading about bosons and leptons and so on.. it would be great to get some quality posts in this thread from some real hardcore particle physicists (come on, I know you're out there...)

    • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:35AM (#24947489)

      The big problem is the media reporting a tiny group of crackpots as if they represented mainstream views. They don't.

      I think the LHC is the best thing to happen to science in a long time. Three cheers for CERN!

      ...laura

  • by Bob-taro (996889) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:34AM (#24946449)
    Huh? That's like saying "sparky stuff known as electricity" or "an attractive force known as magnetism". If you don't know what a proton is, is knowing it's a particle going to help you understand the article?
  • by meist3r (1061628) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:34AM (#24946451)
    http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/ [hasthelarg...rldyet.com] Check the site source :p
  • by bockelboy (824282) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:35AM (#24946475)

    That picture is from smashing the beam into the collimator, not from passing the beam through ATLAS.

    This is one of the final tests that you perform before passing the beam through - the result though is that millions of muons from the beam smash and deflect off the collimator, touching off all the different parts of the detectors. That's why you see so many energy deposits (green) throughout ATLAS.

    When you're just circulating beams, the only thing you see are Cosmics and BeamHalo - any muons which collide with remaining gas particles upstream of the detector and basically circle right outside of the beam. Here's some pictures of CMS beam halo:

    http://cmsdoc.cern.ch/cms/performance/FirstBeam/cms-e-commentary.htm [cmsdoc.cern.ch]

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:36AM (#24946489)

    Has anyone seen my cat?

  • Picture (Score:3, Funny)

    by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:39AM (#24946555) Homepage

    > Here is a picture from the control room which I'm sure makes sense to someone that isn't

    Looks like one of those freeware DOS screensavers from the 90s.

  • by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @10:42AM (#24946609) Homepage Journal

    > And we're all still alive too!

    I'm not, you insensitive clod!

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @11:50AM (#24947723) Homepage

    ..... is .... 42!

  • by Lars T. (470328) <<moc.liamelgoog> <ta> <regearT.sraL>> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @12:30PM (#24948383) Journal
    Now I'm stuck in this alternative reality where George W. Bush is President?
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @12:58PM (#24948805)
    I remember seeing a program recently on the History Channel where they were explaining the science behind the LHC along with a tour of the facilities, the major experiments, interviews with the scientists, and (the interesting part for us Slashdot dwellers) the computer facilities. They mentioned that a tremendous amount of processing power with massive computer grids is required to analyze and filter the data from the detectors because there is not enough data storage presently in existence here on Earth to store more than one day's worth of collisions and detector data if they stored everything (i.e. they have to try and decide which collisions are the most interesting and only record those ones to the SAN). It seems that the more computing power they have available the more thorough they can be in their analysis of the data to fish out the interesting bits so I was wondering...How long might it be before we see a LHC@Home project like the Seti and protein folding where those of us who wish to can donate spare CPU cycles to analyze collision detector data can do so?
  • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @12:59PM (#24948819) Journal

    Something created the universe out of nothing. Which suggests space itself may be damaged by certain events, possibly creating another universe inflating at the speed of the Big Bang.

    Now that'd be something.

    A non-evaporating black hole would merely swallow the Earth over a matter of days or weeks. Then the moon would continue to orbit a black hole with the Earth's mass, but no more ocean tides sapping its orbital energy, and the rest of the solar system wouldn't notice all that much.

    It would drastically reduce the probability of a collision with a planet-killer asteriod, though. So we got that going for us.

    • Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Burning1 (204959) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @07:08PM (#24954385) Homepage

      You're making a huge assumption here...

      From my understanding, energy cannot be created nor destroyed in a closed system (such as the universe.) While it's tempting to believe that everything has a beginning and an end, it's more realistic to see that matter and energy simply change forms. For example, a baby isn't created out of nothing... He or she is formed from food consumed by the mother. Likewise, he or she doesn't cease to exist when dead... The person simply changes form back into the kind of dirt that grew the food he or she was formed from.

      So, saying that the universe created really is inconsistent with everything we've observed. It's more probable that the universe always has existed, and always will exist... Although perhaps not in it's present form.

      My favorite theory is that the universe will eventually re-compress to form another big bang, and that it's destined to forever continue forming, spawning life, and collapsing.

      I cite Atheist Universe by David Mills for a lot of this information.

  • by shish (588640) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:59PM (#24951409) Homepage
    Have people become so excited over something actually interesting that they've forgotten to spam the discussion with old memes? I ask because "does it run linux" could actually be relevant -- That screenshot looks like KDE; now I wonder what the rest of their software stack is like...

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