Saturday, March 15, 2008

Miscellaneous links from last week

A few items that I've starred in my Google Reader this week:

There have been a number of interesting posts on the mission to Enceladus, one of the many fascinating moons of Saturn which the Cassini orbiter (NASA link) has been studying for the last couple of years (including the Huygens mission to Titan) and will be for the next few. This week the probe skirted across the surface of Enceladus (well almost) including going through a giant gas plume. I've yet to see more than pretty pictures (any data), but the pictures can be found here:

From Toomanytribbles

Before the event, TMT also posted some data on the plans for the flyby.

More astronomy links:

From Physics world, the news that Alpha-Centauri, our nearest star may itself have an Earth-like planet. All simulations of planetary formation about the star seem to suggest an Earth-like planet is likely.

A Boing-Boing article on the giant cargo which took off this week on its way to the International Space station. A large part of this cargo is a huge robot, slightly reminiscent of those in Alien.

Astronomers are not terribly good with coming up with names for their new bits of equipment. For instance one overwhelming large telescope being built is going to be called the OWL (I'll let you work that one out!). At Slashdot is an article on the similarly aptly named Large Binocular Telescope which took its first image (sadly not of a terribly inspiring object, in the grand scheme of things - from the Bad Astronomy Blog)

Lubos Motl discusses the news that the sonic equivalent of a black-hole has been simulated. A Bose Einstein condensate in certain conditions should exhibit an event horizon and even Hawking radiation.

On the ArXiv:

A tour de force of calculational complexity is the result that the six-gluon MHV amplitude at two loops does indeed equal the hexagonal Wilson loop (An AdS/CFT prediction amongst other things), though not equal to the BDS conjecture - again as expected from AdS/CFT because the dual conformal symmetry is not strong enough alone to tie down the form of the amplitude. This was seen in two papers, by J.M.Drummond, J.Henn, G.P.Korchemsky and E.Sokatchev and by Z. Bern, L. J. Dixon, D. A. Kosower, R. Roiban, M. Spradlin, C. Vergu and A. Volovich.

We also saw another step on the path to understanding unquenched flavour in gravity duals of gauge theories in the paper by Felipe Canoura, Paolo Merlatti, Alfonso V. Ramallo where they studied the holographic dual of a 2+1 dimensional field theory with backreacted flavour branes in various regions of the parameter space of the N=1 field theory.

Frederick Denef
has his notes on constructing string vacua, from the Les Houches school, online which I'm yet to read through but would like to.

Off the ArXiv but still in physics writing, Blake Stacey continues his discussion of supersymmetric quantum mechanics>

A link from a long time ago about hydrophobic sand (from Food for design). A fascinating substance which, if the cost could be reduced, would be an ingenious solution to quickly clearing up oil spills.

Videos from TED continue to be almost unendingly fascinating and the good news is that the whole archive of recordings from the very first TED conference will gradually be released. It says a lot that back in 1984 TED was forward thinking enough to record all the talks.

From Slash-dot, comes an article discussing whether huge cash prizes could be a good way to quickly progress in making breakthroughs in major scientific and technological problems. Definitely worth debating.

From Cosmic Variance comes a link to the Bloggingheads video with Sean Carol and John Horgan. I watched this this evening and thought that Sean did a great job at setting the current status of much of modern cosmology.

And finally on a couple of non-scientific notes:

I don't have the time to read as much as I'd like these days. The last book I finished was Godel, Escher, Bach, a rather monumental study of logic, art, consciousness, beauty, the foundations of mathematics, music and much more besides. A fascinating book and great for an introduction to the logic by which our universe seems to work, though I felt he tried to pack in a too many subjects which, while they do have connections and these connections go deep, it felt as though each topic was trying to burst out of the seams of the book and become a book in its own right.

Anyway, from Boing-Boing came a link to a beautiful looking book on Mumbai, somewhere I'd love to go and I'm sure that if I read this, my desire to go there would increase even more (Maximum City, Mumbai lost and found by Suketa Mehta)

And finally, an essay from The Online Photographer on the tendency for the populist photographers of today to overdo colour contrast and saturation to create a candy-filled world, with none of the subtlety which great photography captures. I know this is something I have to be careful of and the comments made for an interesting set of reactions.

Anyway, a full day tomorrow of Mathematica decoding - I plan a blog post on this subject alone some time :-) but for now I've Spanish practice to be getting on with.


Blake Stacey said...

Thanks for sending a link my way. I've got a follow-up post almost ready to go (I just need to get fed up with tweaking it this way or that and decide to live with the consequences of posting it, unknown but probable errors and all).

Jonathan Shock said...

I plan on having a read of the paper you linked to as well, looks like a thorough treatment of an interesting subject which I should be more familiar with!