Doing it the Hard Way

October 15, 2010

How the game ball arrived for Michigan State’s 34-17 shellacking of Michigan last Saturday:

Almost as practical as Homer’s vision of what goes on behind the scenes at a bowling ally:

In very tangentially related news, Michigan will play Alabama at Cowboys stadium in 2012. Michigan might actually have a defense by then (seven freshman starters are part of this year’s last in the FBS unit) and if Denard Robinson is still playing for a scholarship it might be a great game.

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.

Solving Conference Realignment Mathematically

June 14, 2010

When I read this article at, I immediately thought of this site.

So, how y’all been?

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 »


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.”

Final four

March 30, 2009

(I realize this has probably been played into the ground for everybody else, but I laughed when I stumbled across it.)