A quantum of science

In physics we do things and afterwards worry about whether they worked

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Andrei Geim Nobel lecture

I thought I would point out the excellent Nobel lecture by Andrei Geim which I found myself listening to while taking a break from something much less fascinating that I was doing this afternoon. It hardly needs mentioning that this is an example of how physics (and in fact all of science – I have fallen into the habit of talking about physics specifically when I mean science in general) can be done successfully. I haven’t listened to Novoselov’s lecture yet but I should imagine it is as worthy of my and your time as Geim’s.

While on the subject of video lectures, I would also like to recommend, as many on the blogosphere have done, Edward Witten’s lecture on knots. It’s a fascinating subject discussed by a fascinating physicist, and I like it to the extent that I have now begun reading about it. I have found it hard to locate the original link so I will refer you to the article on The Reference Frame (which is worth reading by the way) because there is an embedded video and a download link there.


2011 Announcements!

(This post was written on January 1st – I apologize for the delay.)

Happy New Year!

Last year was good, I hope this one will be even better! I would continue in the festive mood if it wasn’t for the pile of work I’m supposed to have done over the holidays and need to get through in the course of this weekend, luckily extended by the Bank Holiday on Moday.

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry, and I think it would be nice if I contributed in some way. I have therefore decided to blog about chemistry a little bit more than I would otherwise have done,  albeit with an interdisciplinary slant of the sort that I like. In particular I intend to discuss some of the exciting aspects of chemical physics such as DFT (which I am yet to learn about), quantum Monte Carlo simulations etc., and possibly some chemical biology which, although rather removed from my current academic course of study, I have found to be of interest.

I would like to think that these are New Year’s resolutions of some sort. Since I may just as well go on, I also intend to learn and blog about quantum foundations. From the papers I have been reading recently I am gradually becoming aware of the central problem of the field which has thus far eluded me, i.e. to find a set of physical principles from which quantum theory can be derived, rather than the axioms being a description of the mathematical formalism.

I also intend to learn some biology –  because of the fascination I have for the subject and the variety of problems to work on that it provides. From a more physical perspective, biology appears to me to provide interesting and accessible examples of physics that is not well understood, i.e. chaos, non-equilibirum statisitical mechanics, possibly even quantum mechanics (see earlier post).

I could go on… but I think this is a good place to stop. I’m now going away to do these things :P.