Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

\vec v_A, \vec v_B; v_{AB}?


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In my inbox

Sometimes life’s just too funny. I get stuff like this in my inbox from a site that stores old tests:

Why use a study guide when you can have the old
exam? Spend more time partying and less time studying.

Needless to say, when the site advertises things similar to “Why study the night before an exam when you can study on the day of the exam?” I wonder who buys this stuff. In the end it sounds like an invitation to cheat. Fortunately, most of the times this does not work, unless we professors get too lazy. This is when random number generators actually do a great job for science courses.


What is more dangerous nowadays is that people cheat by using the internet during exams even if they’re not allowed to. The problem is catching them. Fantastic tools like Wolfram Alpha can be used to remove the thinking out of a problem. Check this one (simple) example I just cooked:




The main problem is that at some point one actually needs to know if the student actually knows what a velocity really is. Or if the student can actually convert hours to seconds. In the end this is what certification of knowledge is about: we need to be able to certify that a student actually knows this stuff.

In the meantime, in the famous words of Garth and Wayne, party on.

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Last week was a week of endings.

First, the program I was organizing in the KITP ended. However, it is not all over: I’m in the coda, writing the exit report. In my opinion the program was successful, we had a lot of interactions and very interesting talks. And we will see what happens with the seeds that were planted a year or two down the line.

Secondly, I also finally had time to finish two  books that I was reading. Surprisingly, I finished them on the same day.


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Blackboard humor

To celebrate the near end of the quarter I thought I would publish a photo of a blackboard near my office captured a few days ago.


The bottom equation proves that it comes from a bona fide physics department blackboard, although to me it seems that there might be a factor of i missing . Well, maybe it can be counted as circumstantial evidence for coming from a blackboard in a physics department.

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I guess I’m easing my way back to writing blog posts. Of course, I could bore you to death with the list of things I was actually doing instead of writing here, but that will really have to wait for another day.

Today, I will just give you some information on some of the recent spam in my e-mail folder that comes from Open Journals (which I have discussed about in the past) and random conferences around the world. I just have the impression that my e-mail is in a “general list of scientists”, or “general list of scholars”, or “general list of people who have written something” that the companies buy and then bombard with queries asking me to select them for publishing in. The rest is a (sufficiently edited) list of such that I have gotten invited to contribute recently in:

  1. Journals of Statistics.
  2. Journals of Geometry.
  3. Journals of quantum information.
  4. Journals of applied mathematics.
  5. Journals of law. (US law in particular).

I’m not really an expert on any one of these, although I could probably¬† do something with my research that might be considered for journals 1, 2, 3, 4 with a long stretch. But in item 5 I declare myself a complete amateur even though I do follow some court rulings and such because I find them interesting.

My inbox would also suggest that I am expert on informatics, engineering, cybernetics, communications, computing, molecular and cell biology, as I seem to keep getting invited to attend conferences on these subjects and maybe even chair one session or two on them. It makes me wonder how the hell I got into their e-mail databases.

In the meantime, I’ll go back to my cave where I will be back doing the things that I usually do that force me away from writing posts like this one on a regular basis.










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Right now I’m in the middle of writing a long paper. This is a rather intense and time consuming effort that I don’t find particularly gratifying. On a good day, I can write a lot. But when I get annoyed at how something is organized I usually copy/paste and end up reorganizing things and that is usually not bad (it’s easier than retyping). However…


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It’s always nice to celebrate when classes are over for the quarter. But the spring quarter is special. When it is over it gives me a change of perspective and I can look forward to more free time to do research for the summer. The change also signals that most committee work is also on hold until the fall.

Just to celebrate I have added a picture of the beach below. This picture was taken recently from my phone at a beach.

Picture of the beach


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Quite recently my e-mail inbox has been inundated with requests to send my papers to Open Access journals and books.

The premise of Open Access is that authors pay for their work to become published and available at no cost to users.

The economic reality is that Universities pay exorbitant amounts of money for journals to stock their libraries and for access fees to published journals. In theory, grants pay for these services via overhead (think of this as a tax on grants by the Institutions). I think in practice that overhead on grants is not enough to cover these costs, so looking for an alternative economic model to make science publishing available to a wider audience at a cheaper cost makes a lot of sense. Here, the Open Access premise is that in this new economic model the overall cost to produce and consume published articles is reduced and transferred as a one time fee to the author.


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Here is an announcement of a program I will be organizing at the KITP from Jan 17 thru March 9 2012. It is a program on numerical methods for gravity and QFT. The web page of the program is located here.

Here is the image I made to illustrate the program: it is generated by taking a set of modes in a box with a UV cutoff. Then amplitudes are seeded for these modes with random numbers and phases multiplied by the typical quantum uncertainty on each mode. The result is a picture like the one below.

It is also fun to animate it.

Right now I have to start chasing people and reminding them that the (first) deadline for applications is coming soon (April 30th).

In the meantime stay tuned.

Image of Fluctuations of quantum fields

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This is a short announcement that the West Coast LHC meeting is going to be taking place in Santa Barbara, on April 15th 2011. Here is our website:

WCLHC meeting 2011.

As you can imagine we have been busy at UCSB putting this together.


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