Monday, February 12, 2007

Catch-up summary

I had assumed that many people who read this blog will by default read all the other blogs that I dip into each morning. I also tend to reason that if an article is on a BBC website that they will pick up on the story. This is clearly not the case and I hope that by doing what I'm about to do, I may be able to bring to those who wouldn't normally hunt around for such articles, what I consider to be an interesting selection.

I thought I would summarise, once a week or so, the most interesting articles I've found, which may include a list of papers I've been reading, news articles on any subjects and blog posts of note. I'll see how it goes over the coming weeks.

So, for this week I list the following as particularly noteworthy:

  • On top of my own posts on the subject, including my review in the previous post, there have been articles about Nick's online popular science/ murder mystery book on both Asymptotia and Not Even Wrong. From what I hear it's going down well and getting a lot of hits.

  • Cosmic Variance has had an interesting and important discussion about the uses and future direction of blogs as tools for outreach, teaching, collaboration, scientific dissemination and more. This has been followed by an interesting response from Flip Tomato. I know of several pure research blogs which I dip into from time to time and the dynamic of input and breadth of discussion is impressive. I have my own research wiki though currently I'm using a none-too-impressive free online wiki service, having no web space of my own. If anyone knows of a good, free web-server on which I can setup my own wiki that I can tweak, I'd be very interested to know.

  • An important point in the development of the International Linear Collider, the successor to the LHC, was announced in a press release here, and follow ups from Cosmic variance and Asymptotia are both fact filled accounts of the physics, technology and politics involved. The announcement is related to the completion of several design aspects of what will be a most spectacular piece of engineering and a huge leap in our understanding of the forces of nature. Some of Clifford's comments are a good summary of the physics discussed in the Newtonian Legacy (see previous post).

  • Over at Retrospectacle there's an article for those who have always wondered where prions (the proteins responsible for mad cow disease and its human counterpart) fit into the biological family tree. Certainly five or six years ago if you had a tonsillectomy in England, they would test the removed appendages for prions. I'd had such an operation just before starting my undergraduate studies and so this post clears up some of the questions I'd had.

  • Prior to this article, still on Retrospectacle are some interesting, relatively technical (to the non-biologist) articles on the workings of the auditory system, Shelley's particular area of research.

  • Also tied in with Retrospectacle is this article from the BBC about the incredible language skills of one particular African Grey parrot with a vocabulary of almost 1000 words and the ability to combine these into new combinations when shown never before seen objects.

  • From way back in the year at Bad Astronomy blog are the top ten astronomy images of 2006. All of them are stunning photos, but the number 1 spot blows me away every time I see it.

  • In research papers, there have been several preprints over the last couple of months on baryons in the Sakai-Sugimoto model - in particular this one, which came out not long ago. The Sakai-Sugimoto model of AdS/QCD includes a non-abelian chiral symmetry, using a stack of D8 anti-D8 branes. In the most recent work a five-dimensional soliton is studied on the world-volume of the D8s and the potential is taken to be that of a field configuration holographically dual to the baryon. The spectrum is then calculated by finding the eigenstates of the Schrodinger equation with this potential. Lots of interesting things to look into further with this work, I feel. (I can see that this review is too brief to explain what's really going on but if any of the words match your area of research, take a look at the paper).

  • I came across this paper by Green and Bachas "A Classical manifestation of the Pauli exclusion principle" from 98. This is related to the existence of two, unique holomorphic curves in M-theory describing fermionic states in IIA string theory. The two solutions correspond to no fermions and to one fermion, but the lack of any other solutions is said to be a 'classical manifestation of the Pauli exclusion principle'. If anyone knows of more work that has been done on the spin-statistics connection in relation to string theory objects I would love to know. Looking through the citations I can't find any other papers which discuss this for more general systems.

  • In Chinese blogs, The Weifang Radish reports on a new post from Chinabounder which has caused the violent spectrum of replies it was expected to. For those out of the China loop, Chinabounder is a blog by a British expat in Shanghai who seduces Chinese women and then writes about his exploits. A Chinese professor got hold of the story, started a witch hunt to find the guy, give him what he thought he deserved, and wrote a large number of extremely aggressive articles about the behaviour of expats in China. Some of his articles are also discussed here on The Weifang Radish. The whole story is completely over the top, somewhere between amusing and terrifying and seems to be a lot of people venting their collective spleens over the web.

  • This BBC article on queuing in China is an interesting one, though I can see many similar situations ahead as China gears up for the Olympics. Taxi drivers will only be licensed to drive during the Olympics if they reach a certain fluency in English speaking and listening. I'm yet to see this progress, but I'm beginning to feel that just about anything is possible over there. There's a famous, modern saying that in China nothing is possible and nothing is impossible - this sums up life there pretty nicely.

  • I've discussed in previous posts about my wonder at some of the incredible engineering feats which are somehow not only dreamed up but actually come to fruition. The LHC of course being one which I've spoken about in the past, in detail. However, away from science and into the commercial world, Dubai has somehow jumped onto the world scene of spectacularly lavish buildings. Though the Taipei 101 is currently the world's tallest building at a little over 500 metres, this is going to be dwarfed by the Burj Dubai, due to be completed in 2008 at somewhere in excess of 800 metres tall (One official website comments that the latest redesign puts the final height at 1100 metres, but I don't know how official this is). Marvel at the photo at the bottom of this page for an idea of how this is going to change the landscape.

OK, that's probably a little overwhelming, but I hope that there's something interesting in there for most.


Anonymous said...

You are definitely right that not all of your readers read the same blogs every morning that you do, readers like myself. Good reminder to me that likewise, not everyone reads the same blogs I do ever morning.

Good links too.

Unknown said...

Hi kevin,

My hope is that some of those who aren't necessarily going to search out for the latest science news will still be connected to the most important events, without me simply repeating what other people have written about very clearly.

It would be good to know some of the highlights from your blog-reading, too.

All the best,