Sunday, March 23, 2008

Miscellaneous links for last week

I've had a chance to watch the first two parts of Sidney Coleman's legendary lecture course on QFT this weekend. Each is about an hour and a half long and although you won't learn much more of the fundamental physics than in any basic QFT book, the insights and thought patterns which come through from Sidney's wonderful lecture style are a superb addition to the current resources on the subject. The blackboard is not easy to read but the audio for the most part is very clear, even when Sidney is walking around, puffing on his cigarette. I would advise following along to the lecture notes which have been partly TeXed up here. (Thanks to theoreticalminimum for the reminder).

There have been a few other interesting posts this week in addition to the good news about the above lectures:

One of the most substantial posts came from Flip Tomato with a vast list of resources for anybody wanting to learn supersymmetry, from just about any level. I would probably add to this the book by Buchbinder and Kuzenco: Ideas and Methods of Supersymmetry and Supergravity: Or a Walk Through Superspace, though this is notation-heavy it's also very very thorough. I've never had to deal with this subject in anger but would probably turn to this book if I did.

Mark at Good Math, Bad Math is starting a series of posts on Game theory, which I'm looking forward to following. We were lucky to have John Nash come to Santiago back in November and a few members of the physics and maths department had a question and answer session with him the day before his public speech. It was fascinating to watch a man who usually shies away from the spotlight but has been so instrumental in developing whole new areas of mathematics with many many applications to the real world. He spoke a little about string theory (his sentences would move continuously from one subject to another, with carefully chosen words, but a seemingly chaotic sense of direction) and in fact one of his first published results (the Nash Embedding theorem) details the embedding of Riemannian surfaces into higher dimensional Euclidean space which seems to have some cute coincidences with the dimensions of string theory - he did point out that he didn't see anything deep in this apparent numerology.

The blogosphere has been going wild over the case of PZ Myers being expelled from a free showing of a film in which he was interviewed, under false pretenses. The pro-creationist film Expelled - No Intelligence Allowed (which has been given bad reviews on just about every facet), lived up to its title. The list of ironies is endless including the fact that Richard Dawkins, Myers' guest was not recognised and was allowed into the cinema. After the showing Dawkins asked why PZ had been ejected and was given a series of ridiculous answers. The story can be read from the first hand account here.
Note that Myers' first post on his expulsion has so far racked up around 1500 comments! See here a discussion between Myers and Dawkins after the event.

News that MIT and google are teeming up to search for Earth-like extrasolar planets is extremely exciting!

News from Slashdot of a new X-prize being offered for the design of ultra-energy efficient cars.

From science to food and Food for design had a short article a mysterious billionaire who has quickly become a world expert on the art of sous-vide - cooking meat in highly controlled conditions for extremely long periods of time. Khymos is a good place to start to learn about this culinary art form.

My friend and author of The Adventures of the Pisco Kid, Michael Standaert, has been writing about the situation in Tibet over at the Huffington post. Danwei has also linked to an interesting video of how easy it is to pull the wool over everybody's eyes. See also here for Michael's discussion of talk of boycotting the Olympics - I agree in large part with his sentiments on this one.

The online photographer discusses the rights of photographers in public spaces and includes a rather disturbing video from London.

And in some of the strangest news of the week (and I still don't know whether to believe this or not) it seems that the Eiffel tower is going to be added to for its 120th anniversary - Looking around on the web it seems to be for real!

Anyway, during a relatively productive week in a generally quiet office I've managed to squeeze in listening to a good deal of the Michel Thomas Spanish course in my walks around the town and to and from work. Perhaps not for everyone but I'm finding his teaching method perfect for me. On top of this, having an Israeli, a Spaniard, a Brazilian, an Italian and a Texan all couchsurfing this week has made for enjoyable after hours company in the flat and in the town.


Jake said...

Off to Paris soon with my partner will check out the Eiffel tower query for you. Mind you this is a romantic weekend for two so may not even get chance to see it.

Jonathan Shock said...

I guess it's not constructed yet, but if you can find out any more facts I'd be interested to know. Have a fun weekend!