Archive for July, 2012

Comparison between UN resolutions: Israel and Turkey I was browsing through some of these UN resolutions related to Israel and comparing them with those on Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus, I noted a distinct difference in tone in the way the two states are addressed and treated.

For example, in UN Security Council Resolution 497 — which is related to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria following the 1967 Six Day War — it derides Israel for imposing “its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights” and says that they are “null and void and without international legal effect.”  It demands that “Israel, the occupying Power, should rescind forthwith its decision.”

In a UN General Assembly resolution on the Golan, it patronizes Israel with harsh language such as: “illegal settlements”; “Israel has failed”; “Israel law null and void and has no validity”; referring to Golan as “occupied by Israel”; “Demands once more that Israel withdraw”; etc.

By stark contrast, when you look at the resolutions regarding Turkey’s invasion and occupation of another legal state, Cyprus — and which is still ongoing since 1974 — you don’t read that kind of patronizing language.  For example, in UN Security Council resolution 367 (1975), it instead “calls upon all States to respect sovereignty … of the Republic of Cyprus” — with no mention of Turkey by name. In paragraph 2 of this resolution it says that it “Regrets unilateral decision” declaring a part of Cyprus would be a “Federated Turkish State” (by Turkey, which is again not mentioned explicitly).

Turkey is hardly criticized in its occupation of Cyprus compared with how Israel has been prejudicially treated by the United Nations.  In fact, Turkey is only mentioned once in Resolution 367, even obliquely – and with the generous verb: ‘regret’. You don’t see the kind of mean language used against Israel in the Turkey resolution on Cyprus.

Clearly, there is distinct discrimination (by the so-called “international law”) against Israel. Nothing new, of course, since that has been known for a long time, but it is interesting to see it where it may not be obvious to look.

Higgs particle seems to exist looks like there will be a major announcement on Wednesday July 4th regarding the existence of the long postulated particle the Higgs boson of the Standard Model. Its existence had been conjectured in the mid 1960s. I’ve read several articles including some from prominent blogs maintained by top physicists in the area, and here is briefly what I gather from them:

1. The Higgs particle exists.

2. But some of its observed decay properties are at variance with those predicted by the Standard Model (the leading theory in Particle Physics) — and apparently significant. Particularly in the decay rates of the Higgs into two photons and into WW particles. The other decays seem to agree with theory.

3. The evidence for the Higgs particle is still indirect — in that they cannot see it directly, but they do see its ‘footprints’.

4. The evidence for its existence would appear to have risen to around a 4 sigma level of confidence (or maybe a little more?), which is about 99.99% certainty. In December 2011, the data back then allowed for a 3 sigma certainty, which is 99.7% confidence level. To be considered a discovery in Physics the criterion is to attain 5 sigma confidence — 99.9999%. (See the little table below for what these sigmas, or standard deviations, are.)

5. The Higgs mass is around 125 GeV. (Pretty heavy! About 133 times  the proton mass!)

6. Several independent experiments (at CERN and in the US) seem to be in general agreement.

So it looks like the Higgs exists but not quite exactly the one predicted. However, the experts will make the announcement on Wednesday. It is notable that they chose to announce on July 4th as well as having invited 5 key physicists, including Peter Higgs (shown in the photo here), to the event.

What do these sigma’s mean?  Basically, statistical degrees of certainty. Briefly,
1 sigma = 67% certainty;
2 sigma = 95% certainty;
3 sigma = 99.7% certainty (considered good evidence but not a discovery);
4 sigma = 99.99% certainty
5 sigma = 99.9999% certainty (considered ‘certain’ or a discovery).


Categories: News, Physics, Science