Archive for October, 2010

Some HEP news

For those of you who are following the news, here is a link to the recent HEPAP P5 meeting report recommending the extension of the Tevatron run.

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I saw Avishai Cohen performing this piece above live recently. He is a great jazz improviser on the double base. Enjoy!

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As many of you probably know, the place to look for references in High Energy Physics for as long as I can remember has been hosted by the SPIRES website, hosted at SLAC.  In the last few year the system has become slow and clunky and I have heard various complaints about it. There is a mirror at Fermilab that works better, but it sometimes still freezes. The next generation of the search engine is called INSPIRE, and it is far superior to the SPIRES engine. This has ben jointly developed with CERN, I’m not sure who else is involved.

This week the SPIRES website is urging the visitors to move on and try INSPIRE. It is in beta testing (has  been for a while and I have used it before), but now it seems to be working much faster.


One of the things that SPIRES had troubles with was citation counts. There are some double counts that appear in some places and not in some others and the results had an inherent noise in them.

INSPIRE seems to have corrected those issues and now the counts seem to match everywhere. I have not found anything broken with the new system yet, but I have not been pushing it either.


In any case, SPIRES is  obsolete (has been for a while) and the transition is now. I think so far they have done a good job with the new software and the move to the new system is worthwhile.


I think the funniest catch phrase one can write about it is the title of this post:

Move to inspire.

It sounds like a slogan for a charity. Oh well.


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So another week of Nobel prize recipients passed. The one in physics was given for finding a really good use for sticky tape (this is the ultra-fancy way of getting graphene from graphite). More precisely, Greim and Novoselov were able not only to obtain graphene, but to also show that it was an amazing material. There are a lot of promises of how graphene should be the next technology and how it will be in everything really soon. I’ve been asked a couple of times already what’s all the hoopla about graphene, but apart from cool science and lots of activity in terms of conferences and papers written about it, it’s all in projections for  future devices that might or might not materialize.


Well, that reminds me of how hot superconductivity was going to be used in everything, but the superconductors never got quite hot enough, and they couldn’t hold magnetic fields as strong as they were required for some of the potential big applications.


This was also the first year in quite a long time where I had already read some of the literature of the Noel prize winner in literature before the prize was announced. Mario Vargas Llosa is a great writer, but most importantly, he is also quite popular in Latin America. He has a rather humorous style and has treated some really difficult topics in his writings. Go and read some of them.

Also, currently the Chilean miners who have been stuck in a mine for about two months are being rescued. This goes to show that when there is a will there is a way: I am very happy that their government has put so many resources into getting them out.


I’ll tell  a bit more about what’s going on in physics in the near future. This ends this weeks transmission of (dis)information.



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Random photos of the day

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Here you see some random pictures of the day. They were take on Saturday Oct 2nd with my very handy ipod nano that was gifted to me a while ago. Except that it does not take pictures, but video. Don’t expect good photos from something so spontaneous, it was just handy at the moment. The audio was not good at all.

To convert the video to pictures I had to use the image capture of my computer screen (it produces rather large files), only after I figured how to get the movies transfered to my computer.  Then I went through a process of reducing the file size by trying random programs until I was able to find the one that would do the job. Turns out there’s more than one, but it took me a while to figure it out.

Of course, part of the fun of blogging is sharing truly random stuff. Like a weird vantage point to take a picture of Times square, or a mushroom formation that looks like a real crown.

I have been too busy finishing various stuff with deadlines in the past few weeks to make a long post about anything serious, so instead this stuff that I just happened on will do in the meantime.

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