It's really good to settle back down to a normal routine here in Santiago, however busy that may be. I was greeted with friendly smiles in the cafe that I hang out at every weekend and it's always a good chance to get on with some random bits and pieces of research/Spanish/Chinese and other miscellania. Work picked up straight away and it's going to be a hectic few months. My first trip will hopefully be to a workshop in Gijon where I'll be presenting a talk on transport coefficients in holography, as in Madrid last month.
As a random Saturday sample I thought I'd catch up with a few of the links that I've clicked on over the last few weeks in my feedreader. I'm simply going to post them in rough date order, so have a browse through and see what you find interesting.
Sir Ken Robinson's new book, The Element. If his TED talk (School kills creativity) is anything to go by, this should be a fascinating and very well written look into finding one's passion in life, including case studies of artists, physicists and movie stars.
Scott Aaranson points to Freeman Dyson's article discussing P versus NP. This article doesn't go into the complications and details of this famous theorem, but it's a good starting place to start rummaging through Scott's many excellent posts on computer science and mathematics. In particular, I thought that the following sentence stood out as an important point to take from one of the most slippery concepts in mathematics:
P versus NP is the example par excellence of a mathematical mystery that human beings lacked the language even to express until very recently in our history.Martin at Khymos discusses a recent culinary trip and a miscellany of interesting points from molecular gastronomy. I link to this in part because it includes a note on Peter Barham, who taught me thermodynamics at Bristol University and happens to hold the world record for the shortest time to make ice cream (demonstrated in a memorable class with his world-famous liquid nitrogen technique).
On the gastronomy front I'm planning on making a trip down to Extremadura one weekend to go and sample the morally acceptable fois gras, as discussed in this TED talk by Dan Barber.
Following the discussion by Phil Plait's (who is in the popular running for the next NASA administrator) some time ago that we may be in the sights of a potential gamma ray burster in our back yard, it seems that we should be in the all-clear given some new results on the orientation of the binary system, from Universe Today.
Blake Stacey has a sci-fi novel out which looks like a lot of fun, and includes String Theory in it's keywords! If his fictional writing is as good a read as his blogging then this should be a lot of fun. I'll be sure to pick up on any AdS/CFT anomalies however ;-) (Until Earthset)
Dimitry at NEQNET points to a set of lectures by Leonard Susskind on quantum entanglement which I've started watching and are rather good. With 15 hours of online lectures, that's going to need another day in the week for now though. NEQNET has a lot of thought provoking posts, including a recent couple on AdS/QCD from guest-blogger Josh Erlich.
If you haven't already read The man who loved only numbers, I would highly recommend it as a look into the mind of one of mathematics' most prodigous and intriguing characters, Paul Erdos. All of his papers are now available online (from God Plays Dice).
Again from Universe Today, not content with simply finding extrasolar planets, astronomers are now looking for moons around extrasolar planets (exomoons). One of the reasons for looking at this is that we may be able to find Earth-like moons circling larger planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars. It seems that the techniques works by looking for the wobble in the wobble of the star.
A meeting of skeptical minds par excellence, Dawkins interviews Derren Brown on the art of stage psychics.
Going back some considerable time now, Boingboing links to Malcolm Gladwell's article detailing the importance and difficulties in finding good teachers. Seems obvious, but as always Gladwell makes you realise how much more there is to such a situation. Gladwell added some of his additional thoughts on his blog.
Toomanytribbles continues a fine stream of interesting links on atheism, skepticism, photography, fun and wonder, interposed with wonderful photos. One of my recent favourites from her photostream.
Atoptics continues to provide excellent information on atmospheric phenomena and was the main source for my colloquium on the subject back in December. The recent Wendelstein halo was a stunner.
That'll do for now as a gentle brush at the surface of webby goodness.
On a side note and to make up for the time spent catching up on the above links, I've found a solution for my inability to stay away from e-mail for more than a few minutes. It may seem a bit much, but I know this is a problem that I'm not alone in having and this technique works for me. If you're suffering from the same modern addiction, try setting an alarm clock on your computer to go off at designated times (mine goes off five times a day), and only then check your e-mail. It's sad, but I personally need this self-imposed constraint and the time I save is worth the humiliation of admitting to such a foible. Personally I use this one, but whatever works for you
Anyway, now to catch up on some papers from last week.