Saturday, March 11, 2006

The chaotic weather of Being in March has arrived as promised. In just 6 hours the temperature has changed by 20 degrees and we've had both a sand storm and a blizzard. I presume that the dust from the sand storm seeded the giant flakes which are currently descending on many parts of the city, only to disappear immediately on the very warm ground. I look forward to more of the same.
These are the sand plastered cars this morning:

and this is the current weather outside:


I'm attempting to get back into my motivational guise as I organise more seminars for the group and it seems to be going well at the moment. With lectures planned for the next few weeks and a reading group to start in a few days time I hope that I can get a little more cohesion after the extremely enjoyable but rather disruptive Spring Festival followed by my absence.

In just a couple of weeks time my parents will be out here which should be another great break from the office (though some papers will be included on the planned trip for good company). This does mean that I'm making a big effort to finish off a paper I'm working on at the moment and hope to be able to get the bulk of it out of the way next week.

Because of all this I hit Beijing at a sprint and already have a full schedule with social as well as academic engagements filling the hours. In the couple of hours spare before heading into the office this morning I started Tortilla Flat which is a saga of the Peisanos of California told with a theme of the Arthurian legend, one of Steinbeck's obsessions. It was his first commercial success and, though very enjoyable, is clearly from a less mature writer than his epic works. It still has many of the same themes that he uses throughout his California writing though with a somewhat less subtle emphasis. Very enjoyable but don't start with this one.

With a four week hiatus I'm back listening to music at work and last night's accompaniment to late night maths coding was a good couple of hours of Dr. Nina Simone (She had an honorary degree in music and humanities). Combined with a fiery temperament (shooting her neighbour whose laughing disturbed her) and a strong gospel background, she's one of my favourite vocalists of all time.

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Still a few shots from Japan to put up from my last day in Narita. I guess the highway code in Japan differs from that in England as I don't recall a kendo chapter in my version.

and a contented family of terrapin/tortoise (?) sunbathed in Naritaji.

as did this chap who clearly has the right idea about not rushing about like a fool


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Courtesy of the prolific and usually controversial Reference Frame, comes news of an experiment into creating high temperature plasmas who's unexpected results could make small scale fusion reactors a much more realistic possibility than before. With a bit of tweaking, this machine has gone from producing temperatures of a few million degrees to around 2 billion. The machine itself is not a fusion reactor but if the phenomenon could be understood and harnessed, the creation of such high temperature plasma would be a huge breakthrough in fusion technology.

For those who don't know, Lubos Motl's reference frame is the most popular academic's blog out there (correction, the most frequently viewed according to some statistics. Cosmic Variance is another very popular one and if anybody can tell me of others that I'm missing out on, I'd love to hear.)and is a great place to read (one opinion) about the latest results in string theory, the latest debunking of loop quantum gravity, world and local politics and much more. His Conservative viewpoints are often highly against the grain of the usual academics stance and particularly his views that the theories of global warming are far from scientific is an interesting argument against the usual media hype. Worth a read though be prepared to leave his site in a huff if you don't have a strong constitution for polemic

2 comments:

island said...

For those who don't know, Lubos Motl's reference frame is the most popular academics blog out there...

lol

Jonathan Shock said...

OK, according to http://www.blogtopsites.com/academics/page_1.html
it is. Popular and frequently read may be two different things.

J

P.S Unless you're referring to my poor use of apostrophes.