Logic (nsfw)

October 9, 2010
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The Standard Model is the Duke Basketball of Physics

August 24, 2010

As I was reading an article on quantum mechanics in New Scientist the other day, Ann asked me why I still read quantum mechanics articles since the pace of discovery has slowed so much. I told her that mostly I was hoping that a flaw with the standard model might be found, opening up at least the possibility of new physics and cool technologies. Today it occurred to me that I am a standard model hater. Just as Duke draws television viewers hoping to see them lose, I am hoping to see the standard model fail.

This should sound familiar: Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the amazing achievement that the standard model represents. I am not trying to disparage it. I just would like to see it upset.

So it was with a bit of glee that I heard about the following series of papers. Apparently the decay rates for heavy isotopes varies slightly as the earth orbits the sun. This variation is consistent with the position of the earth relative to the sun and may be consistent with the rotation of the core of the sun, assuming that that rotation is slightly slower than the surface. What’s really cool is that the decay rates seem to alter a day and a half before solar flares hit the earth, implying a wave of faster moving particles washing over the earth’s surface. What they are and how they interact with nuclear decay are unknown.

As in His Master’s Voice, the discovery was made after searching for a good random number generator.


Whatever you are… own it?

May 7, 2010

A tennis player recently sued for defamation when a London newspaper labeled him the world’s worst professional tennis player. Proving a tennis court and a court of law aren’t so different after all, the pro lost: the judge ruled that the newspaper’s assertion was supported by the facts.

Details here.

Reminds me of when Duke backed out of a football game with Louisville by arguing, in essence, that they could not be competitive. If I remember correctly, they replaced UL with a I AA opponent, whom they beat, but ended up missing out on bowl eligibility by one game. Though they had the requisite number of wins, wins against lower division opponents do not count towards eligibility.


“I have the stripes, but where is the zebra?”

October 29, 2009

piglickerHi Everyone.  Sorry I haven’t posted anything in the long time.  My apology is a post that even longer and more meandering than usual.

I’m at Indiana University for the Biocomplexity X workshop on Quantitative Tissue Biology and Virtual Tissues.  It’s been great — perhaps because there are many physicists converted to biology.  There have been several talks that touched on non-linear elasticity, though most people’s background is in foams and not granular matter.   Rene Doursat gave an especially good talk today on agent-based models of morphogenesis in which he mentioned another alleged quotation, attributed to Alan Turing, who made either the titular comment or said “The stripes are easy, it’s the horse part that troubles me!” in reference to the ability of certain systems of equations to create seemingly biologically-relevant patterns without necessarily providing biological insight.  Brad has Read the rest of this entry »


Bob in Physics Today

September 25, 2009

Those of you who aren’t current in your APS subscriptions might miss this “Quick Study” article by Bob in this month’s Physics Today.


Our Shrinking World

July 24, 2009

The schools of Duke and Coastal Carolina continue to get closer together. The first overtures were made when I went from graduate school in the Triangle to a job in the Grand Strand. Since, the link has remained strong. John and Ann visited in the spring to speak to my physics seminar classes, and I’ll be venturing back up to Duke very soon to collaborate with my former advisor, both activities I hope will become standing. An extensive interstate system will simplify the route between home cities. But perhaps the most important link between the two happened just this past week: CCU just got its very first Jimmy John’s.

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Noooooooo!

April 15, 2009
Greg Paulus

“According to sources close to the situation, the former Duke point guard was in Ann Arbor on Tuesday meeting with Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez about the possibility of playing this season for the Wolverines.”