Saturday, June 28, 2008


Over the past couple weeks, they've been installing new transmission lines around the lab. Not sure why, really; perhaps the old wooden poles are rotted and weak, or perhaps the old wires are too few. Whatever the reason, the work proceeds unabated.
The new poles are gargantuan, brushed metal monstrosities with Vishnu-esque arms strung with cables that appear capable of constraining Leviathan (how's that for a mixed metaphor?). A forest of poles has spawned along two of the roads through the main campus, one every couple hundred feet, so intimidating and moliminous that one might suspect a bridge was to be built upon them, instead of only high voltage wires. I wonder haphazardly whether they have been erected merely to match the new air handling system atop the 5600 complex - an AC unit large enough to require stairs and handrails. One consistently feels the tiny droplets of water that shower off the unit's colossal fan blades when passing within a block of the building.
The entire outfit bids me ponder the point of our misplaced obsession with bigness. Not even limited to size, the desire for more manifests itself in all aspects of our lives. I think we choose to ignore our position as simply a part of the whole. Our desire is to be the whole.

The cap from the Jones soda I drank today said "a thrilling time is in my immediate future." I suppose, based on the fact that I have upcoming a beach vacation, a conference in Michigan and a conference in Germany, that the bottlecap is correct in its assessment. I only hope "thrilling" refers to a positive experience - not "thrilling" in the sense of "thriller" movies.

It has finally been raining a bit recently. Not enough, but it's something. I emerged from the counting room to discover the ground damp and the air fresh and cool. All of the colors surrounding me were deeper hued, washed of their mediocrity. I could breathe the newness of it all; consume it and hold it within my lungs like liquid oxygen. As Adam Duritz once sang, I am the Rain King.

I don't know what to tell Netflix when it asks me, "Has the prestige arrived?" For whom am I waiting? I didn't realize Netflix personally sent important diplomats to deliver my movies.

My thoughts get lost in a hazy atmosphere of rate parameterizations and arctangents. It's no wonder I can't seem to collect them anymore.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Birthday!

For anyone who cares (as I do), Mathematica turned 20 today.
I grew up on Mathematica, so to speak; my first analytically solved wavefunction (for a wave packet incident upon a finite potential barrier) was animated in Mathematica. I drooled when version 5 was released. I did many a senior-level optics problem in Mathematica. Our astrophysics final project, to generate via simulation our own H-R diagram, was completed with none other than Mathematica.
Stephen Wolfram may not be the nicest guy in the world, but his computational platform is a thing of beauty.
Happy birthday, Mathematica!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Scientists Gone Wild!

Just in case anyone might think I have no sense of humor regarding my own chosen profession, here is a link to a recent news story on CBS Evening News. The video is absolutely hilarious.

What I want to know is: why haven't I been invited to these conferences?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another launch

Hats off to GLAST.
A video of the launch is available on the BBC website (reminds me of the giddiness I felt when Spitzer launched, or watching the live video feed from NASA mission control when the most recent Mars rovers landed).

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gullible (part 2)

Looks like we have discovered the next cold fusion. Do these people neglect to consider basic physics out of ignorance? Or is it spite?