Friday, February 16, 2007

Rounding up

I'm resynching as my mathematica code whirls away in the background, losing decimal places and approximating integrals as it does so. Now, I thought I'd put my weekly summary in a slightly more appropriate place so, when possible, Friday will be the day I attempt to compact the week's web finds into a few bite-sized morsels.

  • Where better to start than perhaps the finest mathematically orientated all-male a capella group your likely to find at Northwestern University. From Flip Tomato comes a fine Valentine's offering from the Klein Four Group.
  • To go with your musical harmonies, Clifford picked up on a particularly stunning astronomical harmony. In fact this story is more than just a pretty picture. The signals from this particular object (a white dwarf surrounded by the shell it threw off in its old age) don't behave as one may naively expect, but from recent studies of several similar objects it looks like the answer may have been found.
  • Also in an artistic vein is a link to the work of Vija Celmins on John Baez's diary (Feb 11th). Well worth a look.
  • Asymptotia as well as Cosmic Variance have been posting their favourite titles of papers on the arxiv. OK, so maybe we don't get out enough, but this week not only was there a good title from a friend of mine, but what looks to be a rather interesting paper. In Matrix Big Brunch, James Bedford et al extend the work of A Matrix Big Bang to include a big crunch in their cosmology and glue together the big bang and big crunch geometries to get a closed cosmology. Using matrix string theory, both of these singularities are resolved though it seems like there are some questions regarding the perturbative nature of the theory at the turning point between big bang and big crunch. Any additional commentary on the paper is welcome.
  • Another good explanation from Bee at Backreaction talks about our fascination with understanding the universe on ever smaller scales, and in particular gives another nice explanation of why we should all be aware of what's going on at the LHC and the ILC. The questions of whether we should be spending the large sums of money on these things are discussed at the end, but there's a huge amount one can (and should) say on this subject.
  • As I noted in the last post, there's a good review of Michael Dine's new book over at Jacques Distler's Musings. As I said in my review, it's a good overview of a lot of topics. It's not going to get you up to research speed but it will point you in the right direction.
  • I've mentioned it before but I thought I'd also note it in a summary post that for a very nice introduction to 'the world as a hologram', you can't go far wrong with this video from Raphael Bousso. As I discovered from showing this to some graduate students, in order to generate some discussion, a basic knowledge of black holes is useful.
  • There's a truly stunning movie linked via Pharyngula of the mechanics of DNA replication. No prior knowledge required, but what looks like a fun animation is backed up with some unbelievably complicated calculations. (Note that in the comments is a note which I don't claim to understand on a technical level but it seems to indicate that aspects of this model - for it is only a model - may have been discredited). See some more, impressive biological animations at this site.
  • While I'm on movies, and in Japan: For all your trivia about both contemporary and classic Japanese cinema go to Midnight Eye. Absolutely rammed full of good information about the weird, the wonderful, and everything in between.
  • In software I thought I'd share a find this week which is making the use of Windows Live Messenger (WLM) slightly less painful. As I've mentioned before I spend some time each day on WLM discussing work with various collaborators around the world. This is a great tool with which I've had many, many hours of useful conversations. With a little tinkering it's possible to write in tex and get an output of the conversation saved in order to remember the conclusions you came to and the paths you took to get there. With Messpatch (once you get over the gaudy web page) you can tinker with Messenger to get it looking and acting just the way you want, well, just about. I can't vouch for the amount of spyway which is put on your system when you get this program but Adaware should see to that.

Here endeth this weeks summary. If people see or write articles which they would like me to link to, then please ask. I'm very happy to do so if I think others will benefit.

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