Monday, March 20, 2006

This is very good, I'm sitting in a completely spotless flat which has had the first real clean for, well, an embarrassingly long time. The side effect of this is that I'm rather afraid to move as I don't want to disturb the idyllic equilibrium. So instead I shall catch up on recent bits and bobs of varying significance. First a photo (which I know have been lacking somewhat recently) from another hotpot meal which we had on Friday night at a friend's house. Due to lack of chairs, it was a rather bohemian affair and apart from two of us being well over 6ft and playing various contortion games to get comfortable it was a very enjoyable evening.

Details of the preparation of such a meal can be found a couple of posts ago.

A lot of the weekend was spent in the office finishing off a paper which we released into the wild today. This is my first submission to hep-ph. This means that we think that the results are worth explaining to the people who interface between theory and experiment (these are very important people). Usually my work is only worthy of explaining to theorists, because it doesn't attempt to explain the real world in any great detail. The latest paper however is an extension of a previous model to do just that. Anyway the name of the paper is 'Three Flavour Physics from the Holographic Principle' and I shall put a link to it as soon as it comes online. The results are superb in some places and a little disappointing in others. Really what we want to do is to extend the formalism with enough freedom that other people can play around with this model and try and mimic the real world of the strong force as accurately as possible. I expect some comments though mostly from people asking to be referenced.

On the subject of physics, I found an interesting discussion on cosmicvariance about a paper written at the beginning of the year by my former PhD supervisor Nick Evans, Tim Morris and Oliver Rosten. Clifford Johnson has a great explanation of the paper which is itself really nicely written. Though I think that it's a great result, I'm still a little unsure how it is useful for calculating brane flows and sugra field solutions though that's probably because I haven't thought about it in enough detail. Hmmm, yes (cogs turn, wheels go grind), I'll think about it some more. It's such an elegant solution to the problem of describing a gauge invariant regularization in AdS/CFT that there must be something useful we can calculate with it.

This weekend, while I wasn't in the office I was finishing old books, starting new ones and getting back into some Japanese cinema.

Bright Future
is a strange film from Japanese director Kiyushi Kurusawa (no relation). It's about the contrasting thoughts on the future of two young guys working in dead-end jobs in modern Tokyo. One feels that the future is bright though lives in a dream and spends his time in the real world in a state of pathos and frustration. The other has a solid view of the future and knows that he can mold it as he wants, though with a nihilist slant. Several storylines run in parallel but each essentially carrying the same theme. A toxic jellyfish is used throughout to mimic the sentiments of the dreamer, I think. The film uses unusual camera techniques to take the atmosphere through scenes of numbness, frustration, elation, hope and more. Anyway, an interesting film probably with more subtlety than I've understood from a first viewing. One of the actors is Tadanobu Asano who is also the lead in the Thai film 'The Last Life in the Universe', which I urge people to see, though expect an exceedingly sad film.

In an thoroughly pleasant couple of hours sat in a cafe I finished Tortilla Flat which, though, as I mentioned before is clearly from a less mature author than his later work, still ends with a scene of similar power and simplicity to many of Steinbeck's other books. It feels a little like a sketch for several of the people in Cannary Row though this is probably because many of the characters he uses are from his real adventures in Southern California. He gets a little caught up in trying to be over eloquent but it's still a great novel. I'm now half way through the Steinbeck canon and don't feel disappointed with anything I've read so far - I'll stop rattling on about Steinbeck for a bit as I've run out for now.

The new book is The Joke by Kundera. This was his first novel and was written during the Soviet occupation of his home. This made both publishing it in the first place and getting it out to a wider audience extremely difficult and only in this, the fifth translation, is Kundera happy with the English version. The first, he explains, were so thoroughly torn apart and reduced that while being censored in Czechoslovakia he felt in some ways equally censored abroad. Though it's been through a rocky history, it's great to read a translation which is so highly lauded by the author, something that I worry about when reading modern translations of older books.


Benjamin said...

Hi Jon,

I've just seen the trailer for 'Bright Future' and read a synopsis which gave the whole story away. I much preferred your intro to the movie. Film looks good, quite fresh maybe.

Just read over your recent posts. Gently readable and accessible, genuinely interesting, even your thoughts on physics are somehow intriguing, though really I'm clueless to it.

Nice work. Will write you soon x

Jonathan Shock said...

Cheers Ben,

I never like to give too much away in film reviews, just a taste of the style and feeling.

Many thanks for the compliments and the e-mail. I'm glad to be able to give non-physicists even a glimpse of the strange and quirky world of the scientist.

Chat soon,