Monday, October 31, 2005

and the Wheel Turns...

So, 18 hours on an airplane, and the books at airport shops basically have the NYT bestsellers only.

I see the "Knife of Dreams" by R Jordan, the dreaded book #11 (I kid you not) in the Wheel of Time series.
Ok, it is thick. I buy it.

So. the Wheel of Time is a fantasy series by a fairly well known author.
First book (Eye of the World IIRC) was intriguing, bit derivative (farm lad turns out to be the chosen one, with great powers; destined to fight evil, rule the universe etc. He sets off with his random sidekicks. Much hijinks ensue).

But, the next 2-3 books were actually good. Action packed, lots of sideplots, twists, unexpected variations on a theme.
Then the books ground to a halt. By the time of book 8 or 9, hundreds of pages were spent on agonising descriptions of clothing and repetiton of minor memes to reinforce the readers memory of the hundreds of unresolves subplots.
Last couple of books seemed to not actually advance the plot at all.

But this one does. Major subplots are successfully and interestingly resolved. Minor subplots are disposed of. New plots appear. Time actually advances with resolution in sight. It might even finish in book 12. We hope.

But, for anyone who read the first few books and gave up; may be time to catch up, things are moving again.

I can't say I'll ever be a "fan" of this series, but it is adequate entertainment again and is now worth reading to the end.

By the Numb3rs

So, stuck in a hotel at the end of a conference burned out, I catch Numb3rs, the criminal investigation series shown at 10pm on fridays on one of the TLA channels.

It is a not bad "catch the bad guys" series. Hero #1 is an FBI agents, Hero #2 is his brother who is a Caltech mathematician genius type (scenes are shot at Caltech and the math advisor is at Caltech math dept). Not bad, the math is about as good as you're ever going to get on network television. It is of course overhyped and impossibly urgent, but the basic concepts are typicall spot on.

So, this week they were trying to track a stealth plane from multiple noisy radar detections ('fraid it was a terrorist planning to attack a Clippers game, if I understand the setting!?! turned out to be a whacky loner instead, whatever).
So, to extract the trajectory they run a noise extraction algorithm, as it happens the BS they use was realistic. To do it they borrow a colleagues Beowulf (which, correctly transposed, makes the refugee from the Fox Boston law show Tom Prince!!!) - instant BS alert here, btw, the FBI can access at zero notice federal hardware that would blow any private beowulf cluster out of the water, though I suppose you can make a concession for the "that's the one the software was written for..."

But! The colleague is mildly upset, because he thought there were going to run a gravitational radiation signal extractor!

YES! That's going mainstream.

Friday, October 28, 2005

iPod iChing - what the future holds: the week ahead...

It is friday and we approach the iPod intrepidly and ask it:
oh mighty iPod, who knows all nature, can you tell us what will happen in US and world politics over the next week, 'cause I really want to know.

Whoosh, the randomizer whooshes...

#11 is It's Silly Time - Twin Sisters ("It is not time to be quiet, no not at all..."); #12 is Have a Cigar - Pink Floyd

As always, the Key as explained by Sean

Miss Macbeth

All the children testify...
...Sometimes people are just what they appear to be
With no redemption at all

Now, how does "This Charming Man" go? Something about the bicycle on the hill...?

Oh, my. Well.
I guess I am forgiven for my untimely absence.

The country turns, the children talk, someone is in big trouble. Our Past is Asian lyre and we keep our sword hand free.

If you like the "zodiac" form, then all will be well, eventually as "we ride the gravy train".

Mighty is the iPod. Wise is his High Priest.

Seriously, that is an impeccably delphic prediction. This iPod thing is amazing. I wanna know their randomizer algorithm.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NASA - another small cut

Michelson fellowship program is suspended, call for applications withdrawn for this year

I fear this will be one of several withdrawn opportunities over the next 9 months.

I hope it will not be a longer time period.

Random Snippets from PPV: Part II


Wittenmeyer et al have taken 20 years of McDonald data plus some data from the pioneering Campbell & Walker radial velocity survey (1988) to constrain high mass giant planets in long period orbits.
Conclusion is that within their sensitivity limit (~ 3 M_Jupiter at ~ 5 AU) less than 20% of their stars (+- 5 %) have such massive long period planets.

Galland et al show the radial velocity surveys can be done on F and A stars. And find a ~ 10 M_Jupiter object at ~ 1 AU around an F6V star.

About 1% of stars in searched samples have "hot jupiters"

About 10% (formally 7%) of stars have "warm eccentric jupiters"

About 20% of stars appear to have no giant planets out to quite large semi-major axis.

It is possible that 50-70% of stars (K and G main sequence stars) have planetary systems similar to the Solar Systems.
Preliminary indications are that >> 10% do, based on incomplete data and trends (this is my personal interpretation of unpublished data others have taken, not a scientific analysis; a very conservative extrapolation at this meeting claimed minumum 12-15%).

M stars being surveyed at high precision are now showing velocity trends and we can expect a lot of planets around M stars. This will confound formation theories at a nuisance level. Possibly major nuisance. I still think the basic theory is right, but a lot of detail is missing.

Hyades survey found no short orbital periods jovians around a sample of 100 metal rich stars.

Boss reports that Hatzes et al (2005) have 10 detections of long period jovians around metal poor K giants.
I can not find the preprint, yet.

There will be a lot of G and K giant stars with planets found around them, probing the intermediate mass and old solar mass population, soon.

There are now 7 known planets, detected through optical radial velocity surveys, with masses less than 20 Earth masses.
This number will increase very rapidly over the next couple of years.

This is getting to be really interesting.

Random Snippets from PPV: Part I

Better late than never, here's a few things that caught my attention at the Protostars and Planets V meeting.

1) There's a lot of new Spitzer data. It is very interesting.
There is a lot of cataloging, compiling of averages, distributions and looking for outliers.
Big picture has not settled down.
Theory has completely fallen behind and my sense is people can't actually keep up with the news, just not enough manpower and the reviews are not out yet.

2) Disk gas goes away very quickly, in less than ~ 3 Myrs in many cases.

3) The transition from primordial dusty gas disks to cold gas free debris disks is very abrupt.
Warm dust disks are rare. The ones seen may be transition objects, or they may be transient due to rare impact events at late times.

4) The discrepancy between observed planet formation time scales and theoretical formation time scales is becoming significant. Planets seem to form more rapidly than predicted by current models.
This suggests the models are wrong, in that something is missing. I suspect relatively minor additional physics, but a lot of detailed process tracking, will close the discrepance.

Hey: google "Spitzer news" - Spitzer Space Telescope outranks Eliot Spitzer! Cool.

Neil vs Stephen

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astronomer extraordinaire, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, NY, and general genuine nice guy, was on the Colbert Report wednesday night (26 Oct).

He was funny, erudite and at one point kicked Colbert's butt. In a nice sort of way. Though to be fair I thinnk Colbert thought about hitting back and then decided not to, there was a visible pause and then a "ok lets wrap this up on a laugh" rather than draw blood fight. Still, Neil did better than Lou Dobbs, and he
got some important points across about Intelligent Design, science and priorities.

Not bad at all

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

White Sox; Dark Fox

So, purely by accident, I caught the end of the World Series game 3 last night while munching KualaKalua Pig Quesdillas and guacamole.

Yeah, it went on for a long time. Yes, you could in fact fly from Baltimore to Iceland in that time.

That is a good thing. Moron sportcasters on Fox should watch their tongue and tone.

Aloha: PPV

Ok, so I am at "Protostars and Planets V" at lovely, if slightly bizarre in an uber-touristy sort of way, Waikoloa resort

Lots of science news I am still pondering. Also had a very interesting pre-meeting workshop on diskology; not ready to talk about that yet either.

And, my #%R*@P# laptop battery is slowly degrading, barely enough charge now to read a paper during dull moments and breaks.

You might ask: why do astronomer have meetings in such places?
Well, first of all, it induces people to actually come to the meetings.
Secondly, meetings have to be held where there are people to organise them, which either means near major institutions (which are often in exotic locales in astronomy), or at places where people know they can hold meetings (this is a subtle point).
Finally, there's almost 1000 people here. Not that many hotels who can handle that many people. You take what you can.

Fire, Dog, Lake.

firedoglake is on a roll for DC gossip and implications
Don't usually link much to the bigger poli blogs, but this one is worth a peek right now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the Islands

Hawaii is a nice place to hold meetings.

There are interesting things happening in the field of planets and sub-fields related to planets. Still sorting out what is truly cool, what is a distraction and which news are just teasing.

Sushi really is reliably better if you're actually in the middle of the ocean.

We really need more polynesian-mexican fusion restaurants.

Did it really snow, several inches? I am in such big trouble...

sweet sorrow

Friend of mine in retail pointed this out to me: US sugar prices, already high because to trade restrictions, are going up sharply and will go up further this winter.

current prices
Boston news story

Stock up now for christmas...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Crimson Ties - what a coincidence

So, yet again Bush chooses a Harvard grad with strong academic credentials.
Who also happened to be at Harvard when Bush was. Bush's MBA IIRC was '75, Bernanke got his BA in '75 and Roberts time at Harvard straddled these years.
Clearly a very good cohort for Harvard students...
Bernanke bio

That's the liberal academia for you. I wonder if the usual suspects counted Bernanke as a democrat on the Princeton faculty, in evaluating their weighting of the liberal bias in academia.

paranoid ramblings

Here's a small but curious thing.

There's at least one US Marine task force in the Indian ocean or nearby - couple of days from Pakistan. Probably there are two, with at least two helicarriers and associated ships. There is also at least one US Navy aircraft carrier group, possibly as many as three. These are at sea, and were recently doing readiness exercises. They have at least a couple of hundred transport helis.

But none were tasked to earthquake relief in Kashmir near as I can tell. Instead NATO assets from Afghanistan and then Europe were sent over, in small numbers, slowly, and the initial ones were straight out of combat, still with bullet holes in them.
Now some of the USN is supporting the Marines in west Iraq (and why is that, tasking Hornets out of the gulf seems insane when there are several fully loaded USAF bases in country, they can't be that busy, unless the Marines and USAF have trouble communicating...), but helicopters from the gulf are not going to help you west of Baghdad.

So, what gives? Why do you need these forces in place so urgently they can't take off for a couple of weeks to give assistance to a very important ally in very serious trouble (if Musharraf is perceived to lose control of the relief effort, or to lose control of Kashmir he in very serious internal trouble)?

Good thing I don't get paranoid about such things...

curb your enthusiasm - when did that change?

Curious thing, going to the airport last week, the ban on curb side drop-off/pick-up by private vehicles was gone.
Just like that. No announcement, and a cursory google shows no TSA announcements or news. But the rather stupid and ineffectual rule at our local (small) airport banning short term parking across from the terminal and curb side attended stops is just gone, parking spaces are cleared and signs say drops and picks allowed if driver stays with vehicles.

So, what gives? The original rule was useless, but what has changed to cause it to change?

Friday, October 21, 2005

iPod iChing - Mmmmmore lively planets

Frazzled Friday; and we ask the mighty iPod: Oh mighty iPod, are there any terrestrial-like planets or major moons orbiting M class main sequence dwarfs, which are habitable for Earth like DNA based life, and which have indigenous life?

Whoosh. The randomizer whooshes...

#11 is Suedehead by Morrissey and #12 is Levi Stubb's Tears by Billy Bragg for completists.

That's be a "Yes". And the iPod knows that I don't live by an M dwarf. Phew.

Further, there was life around M stars in the past, and it is now dead in some cases.
And, there will be lots of life around M stars in the future, including life reborn from other places.

Hmmmm.... Wise is the Great iPod. Humble is its High Priest and interpreter... Real impatient hot heads these G dwarf spawned life forms.

As always, the Key as explained by Sean

Bit of iPod editorialising there on the House!

You really don't want to mess with this dood

Patrick J Fitzgerald, Special Counsel, DoJ has his own website, now.
I wonder what content they plan for it, bit sparse right now.
Good layout though.

Don't mess with the Feds, even if you think you're the biggest baddest mutha around. You hurt the Feds they'll get you one way or the other. The Real Feds, the 222 year old self-perpetuating meritocracy that runs the country, not the politicos and media wannabes that come and go.

One to bookmark for a while I think.

Don't mess with Bérubé!


Dean 101 on InsideHigherEd, seen on

Hey, it is seasonal...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tularemia - yeah, I wondered about that too

Probably nothing, but Aetiology has an interesting piece on the DC Tularemia alert from last month (Sep 24)

The really disturbing thing is that these sensors are put up and then there is apparently no process for actually doing anything or notifying anyone when they go off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Itsy bitsy little planets

Now, this is interesting...

Short versions: M star GJ876 already known to have planets. Berkeley group is now formally claiming a third planet of 7.5 Earth masses (inclination is known from modeling of planet-planet interactions, assuming all 3 planets are co-planar), in 2 day orbit!


So much for the "M stars don't have planets", well, except for this one we know about...

Much to think about here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

We're all doomed, doomed I tell you.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Alternative Gravity

Sean patiently explains the issues...

It is conceivable that the whole Dark Matter concept is in error; although it does fit very elegantly with what we think we ought to know about physics.

Some alternative scenarios to dark matter may be true, some not. Sean summarises more patiently than I care to right now.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The world is magical: 25-2127

Alas, the world is magical

In 15 short football minutes I saw three miracles, time reversed, causality violated and a little Evil Warlock from the University of Magicians change reality to some strange alternity just by waving his hands in a strange pattern and shouting arcane incarnations at the black and white clad Guardians of Reality and Truth.


Friday, October 14, 2005

In Memoriam: John Peel Day 2005

Best DJ ever.
Arguably the most persistenly influential single person in the modern music scene.


iPod iChing - hot planets cool life

It is friday, again, so soon. So we light heartedly approach the Great iPod and ask:
Oh mighty iPod, do habitable terrestrial planets survive jovian migration in any appreciable fraction of cases and settle in stable, congenial orbits in the habitable zone?

Woosh goes the randomizer. Whoosh.

  • The Covering: Estampe - Jardins sous la pluie - Claudio Arrau

  • The Crossing: Take of Me - Alison Moyet

  • The Crown: Andante - Mozart

  • The Root: Hann Tumi fer á fætur - Björgvin Halldórsson

  • The Past: Young Americans - Bowie

  • The Future: North Sea Bubble - Billy Bragg

  • The Questioner: Encore - O Sole Mio - Three Tenors

  • The House: To Be With You - Mavericks

  • The Inside: Concerto #6 - Brandenburg Concertos

  • The Outcome: Today is My Birthday - Twin Sisters

For completists: #11 Adagio - Bach; #12 Vinkonur - Andrea Gylfadóttir

Hm. Lots of classical stuff. "Hann Tumi..." is a children's song about the need to get up out of bed and hustle.
Vinkonur is "girlfriends", a children's song, ode to lifelong friendship.

Covering seems appropriate for a question on habitable planets!
I infer that extrasolar planets are in for a bit of a lull, and I will be on my own for a while, but my colleagues will eventually concur... and, yes, we are planning an Encore paper. Outcome sounds good.

So, it will look grim for a while, but terrestrial planets will be found, eventually, in stable orbits in the habitable zone outside the orbits of "hot jovians" orbiting at short periods about the host stars.


As always, the Key as explained by Sean

see here for context

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A day in the life of...

JoAnne over on CosmicVariance has a nifty lite blogging entry on what it is scientists DO anyway

So, since I'm a wee bit too busy to think, even about a lazy adopt-a-blog entry or equivalent, here is my contribution:

Wednesday got off to a somewhat early start, early enough that everyone was through breakfast etc more or less on time and the big kid was actually at school on time, unusually enough this month.
Got into the office and checked e-mail; dealt with time critical ones I spotted and deleted obvious junk (a side effect of e-mail saturation is that merely important e-mails get pushed to the side and dealt with in blocks, sporadically; personal e-mails can take months to be dealt with as they fall off the screen; and this is with three levels of spam filters, and multiple Rules for automatically diverting periodical and low priority administrative e-mail into separate mailboxes...).

Speaker arrived on time, Prof Alice Quillen from University of Rochester. An old friend.
We chatted for about half an hour, then I took her up to get her paperwork done, while I set up paperwork that I needed to get done.
Met Alice for coffee and introduced her to people, chatted for about 15 minutes. Started her on her formal "meetings" with people in the department.
Went to finish up some time critical recommendation letters and associated paperwork. Took files to the university fellowships office for collating and mailing, discovered the fellowships office had some additional paperwork which meant I could clear my desk if I hustled. Back to office, hustle, back to fellowships office. One thing completely done and well on time.
Meet Alice for lunch, buffet at the India Pavilion (good, fast and standard fallback to avoid the "I don't know, what do you want" cycle). Another faculty member joins us late out of class, productive discussion, I have to leave early to go to class, I pay and other prof makes sure Alice finds her way back in time for her other meetings.
Class, senior level "stars and galaxies". New sub-topic started, mostly "pretty pictures" and overview stuff, set them up for next week's major topic on evidence for Dark Matter in the Milky Way. Class web page still incomplete, managed to rescue old lecture notes from the disk that crashed tuesday so at least I had some material to work with. No class on friday because of "fall break" (one day, just enough to trash class schedules, not enough for an actual break).
Back to office, I have 45 minutes to do time critical paperwork. Some refereeing related materials dealt with, details are confidential. Two sets of paperwork confirming that funding for grants actually arrived at PSU (this is non-trivial, the mere fact that a grant has been approved does not mean the money arrives by the start date of the grant, it has to clear fed gov budget review which may take months, causing much hijinks when money has been promised, is being spent but has not actually arrived (yes there is a process to solve this, it just requires some paperwork...)).

E-mails arrive, due to a schedule mixup Alice didn't meet with some people (she ended up with an old schedule as her new schedule and the new schedule was thrown out by mistake). Get Alice to see one of the people, set up the laptop and projector and go to pre-colloquium coffee.

Colloquium: interesting, I'd seen her papers but not taken in all the analytic work she had done (topic is circumstellar disks, more specifically modeling of planet perturbations of young disks and associated issues). Her scale free solution of second order perturbed Hamiltonian formalism matches our numerical results and provides an elegant explanation of something we had noticed and explained in what is essentially a Lagrangian formalism. But, more importantly it suggests a solution approach to a very annoying puzzle about onset of chaos in weakly perturbed Hamiltonian systems, may now have an analytic handle for explaining those results from 4 years ago (yes, those results, you are reading, get cracking! Quillen and Holman 2003!).
Also she did some modeling we planned to do a few years ago put had to put aside to deal with HST data. About what we thought. Needed to be done, we knew someone else would get to it before we got back to it, but there is too much to do and not enough people.
Questions run late, good talk.

Alice comes back to the house for dinner; leisurely dinner with family, takeout, in the interest of actually having time to talk and catchup, everybody loves pizza... and salad.

Kids up past bedtime, totally whizzed. I take the big kid and get her bathed, jammied, read and settled. Only 30 mins late, but that will cascade for thursday morning (it did) and probably through to saturday. Munchkin also asleep. Time to do minimal cleanup, get lunches ready for tomorrow. Check e-mail for critical new stuff. No crisis. Glance quickly at web, catch late news on cable and, finally, sleep.

So: no actual time spent doing science, but wednesdays are always a total loss with class and colloquium. Got time critical paperwork done, caught up partially on stuff that had slid earlier in the weeks crisis du jour. Didn't catch up on grading or get ahead on class prep. Learned something, and got ideas for what may turn into 0-3 future papers. Did some important networking and set ground for future activitiy.

Now it is thursday morning, still playing catchup, but did some actual science this morning, looks like we have new Hubble results, need to meet to discuss theoretical implications and what to do with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

fsck this

Well, not how I planned on spending my day, but...

even with a corrupt disk, most of the data can be recovered

if in doubt run fsck

if that doesn't work, remember there are special little flags you can use to force the issue

if that doesn't work, telling the computer to fsck thrice will sometimes actually work

"volume successfully repaired"... we'll see.

Well, it rebooted, and I have Desktop, now we'll see if the corrupt piece of crap data really was flushed and the rest of the disk is there.

It is though comforting to know I can still hack it with Unix. One of these essential survival skills that you don't forget.

death to bloggers

or, at least no tenure for junior faculty bloggers...

InsideHigherEd pontificates inconclusively. Twice is coincidence, we need more data.

Given that Sean as always has impeccable taste one must wonder what they were thinking, again.

On the third hand, having caught the second half of the game, how can we say the world is not magic? Maybe I should wait until next weekend, given the propensity for magical happenings to take place with the refereeing crew in Ann Arbor.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Global Climate Change: Earth and Mars

This will be an extended post to discuss some of the technical details on climate change, the observed changes on Mars and the implications.

Initially, let me quote from Colaprete et al's Nature paper v 435 p 184-188 (2005), this is the second to last paragraph discussing the results:

Jakosky and Haberle [20] suggested that the SPRC may be unstable from year to year, and that small perturbations in climate may result in the SPRC disappearing some years and reappearing in others. In spring, the recession of the seasonal cap is largely controlled by the surface brightness. Although albedos in local regions on the seasonal cap can change rapidly, the persistent asymmetric circulation creates conditions in which relatively larger grain sizes are stable in the Cryptic region through the sublimation season. Any changes to the circulation can result in changes to the surface brightness and poleward heat flow, and thus modify the recession of the cap. The current SPRC albedo is very close to the minimum required for year-round stability [20]. If these albedos are only slightly modified by changes in the location or quantity of precipitation, then the SPRC will undergo significant changes and may partially or completely disappear. The observed changes in polar ice features reported by Malin et al. [21] and Byrne and Ingersoll [22, 23] are consistent with the notion of a SPRC that is only quasi-stable and may undergo significant changes from one year to the next.

[italics mine]

Soon as students stop bugging me ;-) I will finish a write up of what this means, how these models work, and why it matters.


'flu pandemic awareness week is over.
The regular 'flu is not here yet.

But several aquiantances of mine have come down with acute respiratory infections in the last week, pseudo-flu like symptoms followed by apparent bacterial lung infections. This is in several different geographic areas, US and Europe.

Small sample statistics? I now tend to know sickly people (not likely, they're pretty much the same people as last year)?

Anyone know of a particular virus doing the rounds right now? A couple of friends are really sick. People who are usually quite healthy.

Friday, October 07, 2005

iPod iChing - loopy uniqueness

ah, rainy friday, and another week has gone by.
We approach the mighty iPod and we ask: oh, mighty iPod, our High Priests of Fundamental Physics are wandering lost in the wilderness of parameter studies, guide them oh Great One, tells us, is the vacuum unique or are we but a local minimum in a crazy landscape of arbitrariness?

Whoosh, the randomizer whooshes...

  • The Covering: Precious Pain - Melissa Etheridge

  • The Crossing: Eniga Meniga - Olga Guðrúm

  • The Crown: Love - Buildin on Fire - Talking Heads

  • The Root: Allur Matur - María Björk

  • The Past: In Un Palco Della Scala - Pavarotti

  • The Future: The Fourteenth of February - Billy Bragg

  • The Questioner: The Holly and the Ivy - King's College Choir

  • The House: I Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For - U2

  • The Inside: Downbound Train - Raul Malo (Springsteen cover)

  • The Outcome: Sax and Violins - Talking Heads

For completists: #11 is Kiss Off - Violent Femmes and #12 is Poem for Violin and Orchestra.

Too funny.

"Eniga Meniga" is a nonsense rhyme children's song from the '70s about the nonsense of materialism and how you can be happy even if you are poor. "Allur Matur" is a children's rhyme instrucing children to be careful to eat up and not play with their food.

The House really says it all. And I'll accept the iPod's anointment of me as authoritative on this in the Questioner ;-)

As always, the Key as explained by Sean

Here is Cliff on what this is all about. Don't know what made me think of this question today...

Sax and Violins

Sax & Violins

Falling, falling
Gonna drop like a stone
I'm falling through the atmosphere
On a warm afternoon
If lovers discover
That ev'ryone dies
So don't tell me, please hold me
It's a dangerous life

Daddy dear
Let's get outta here
I'm scared
Ten o'clock
Nighttime in New York
It's weird

If you're looking for trouble
Well, that's what you will find

Mom & Pop
They will fuck you up
For sure
Love so deep
Kills you in your sleep
It's true

Love keeps us together
And love keeps us alive

And we - are criminals that never
broke no laws
And all - we needed was a net
to break our fall

They're searching for diamonds
They're grabbin' at straws

Sex 'n' sin
Sax 'n' violins
It's hell
Wooden heads
Furniture with legs
For sale

Love keeps us together
And love will drive us insane

And we - are criminals that never
broke no laws
And all - we needed was a net
to break our fall

Going home
Back where I belong
To stay
Rays of light
They will turn the light
To day

Birds travel together
Birds follow the sun
And I - am watching as the birds go flying home


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mars: the next frontier

guest blogging on Real Climate today.

Got signed up for this before I (and possibly they) knew just how good they are.
Why, yes, I am shameless.

Any errors are mine. Writing level is aimed at "interested amateur", not expert.

UPDATE: Lubos Motl editorialises on this. See comments there and on Real Climate for discussion.
Interesting perspective.
I think I'll return to this soon, arguing with opinionated string theorists is sophomoric but fun.

Hey, some of my best friends are string theorists, and most of them are very nice people too. Arguing with them is fun too.

adopt a blog - yet more random snippets

adopt-a-blog - because connectivity is good, and because I feel like it

  • Let's Have It - Englishman in Paris, ranked one below this blog on the TTLB ecosystem last I looked. Its a really interesting read actually, science, random personal stuff and general ramblings. A good blog.

  • Crooked Timber This one is famous, which violates my rule on looking for relatively unknown blogs, but I wanted to put a link to it somewhere, and was reminded when I was reading over Bérubé's blog list. Group blog, academic, lot of politics some science and academia. Well connected and influential. Well written.

  • Stars over Kansas Cribbed from Bad Astronomer's blog roll, just for the name. Hard core observational astro and space enthusiasts. Amateur and direct sky observing oriented. Informative.

  • Kjéllurnar - good girls are just bad girls that don't get caught fifth most popular on Blog Central in Iceland, today. Yes it is another girl group blog... the social dynamic of these things is fascinating in a sociological sort of sense, and a little scary, speaking as a parent. Oy vey.

  • Ah Yes, Medical School Ok, I try blogger's "blogs of note" list... Oo, I infer he is at PSU Med School in Hershey. And, the stories are amusing, ring true (I have an excess of close relatives who are MDs) and are informative. Another good one.

It is a very interesting world out there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

this man should talk to you!

From Gladden et al, Phys Rev Lett 94 35503 (2005)

Recently we had a very refreshing Astronomy department colloquium.

It was be Prof Andrew Belmonte, experimental mathematician and pasta chef extraordinaire.
He also gives good talks.

The topic was a bit off the beaten path for us; non-Newtonian fluids, viscoelastic polymers and buckling and shattering of fibers. In other words it was intellectually stimulating, refreshing and interesting. (Like all our colloquium speakers of course, just different).
And, it was also relevant, apart from the obvious astrobio relevance, there are are clear analogies to magnetohydrodynamic fluids and crustal snapping in neutron stars.

So, invite him to give a talk at your institution.

Imminence of the Eschaton: VII - that's, like, totally awesome

Bérubé analyses Miers' future Supreme Court decisions, but the key piece of info is not the new interpretation of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution, it is the evidence for Google's soon-to-be-added feature Future Search.
Like, totally awesome.

Clearly, ongoing research into acausal quantum cryptographic communication is, er, will, has been bearing fruit (english does not have enough tenses, time travel needs to be discussed in Icelandic, where pluperfect future conditionals form naturally) in the Bay Area.

Either that, or someone read too many Charlie Stross stories.

Monday, October 03, 2005

'flu blogs

'flu awareness week apparently, Pharyngula has pointers to a very good series by Aetiology and another to kos diarist Dark Syde.

as always effect measure is on a roll