Happenings – 2010 Oct 23

The only thing out of the ordinary this past week was a lecture about neutrinos at Cal (Berkeley). The speaker was Dr. Arthur McDonald, the director of SNOLAB, an experimental research facility located deep in a mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

If you’re curious about it, you can probably find most of the information on their website:

At my first opportunity, instead of looking up neutrinos, I looked up impact craters in Canada (I’m virtually certain that none of my books discuss in detail the consequences of neutrinos having mass). I recalled that Sudbury was the site of a large and ancient impact crater… that’s why it’s a good place to mine for metals. (No, I don’t know precisely why, but I more than suspect it is caused by what happens under the crater as it is formed.)

There is a handy list of impact craters, by continent or by age or by size, etc.

It told me that the Sudbury impact crater was 250 km in diameter and 1.85 billion years old (second oldest and fourth largest, but of course earlier ones are so badly eroded as to be unfound or unverified). By contrast, Chicxulub, which we think took out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, is about 170 km in diameter. At the other end of the scale, Barringer (“Meteor”) crater in Arizona is 1.2 km in diameter and 50,000 years old.

My kid followed up on this theme this morning by looking through a book called “the seismic wave field”, ISBN 0–521–00663–5 (volume 1 of two).

Oh, in other news, this blog passed 80,000 cumulative hits this past Wednesday.

A friend sent me an e-mail about “the German tank problem“, which I had never heard of. In particular, the problem was to estimate the rate of production of German tanks, given the serial numbers of tanks we had destroyed (during World War II). In general, the problem is to estimate the maximum of a population given samples from the population.

The most recent episode of CSI involved a woman who was a hoarder… a very extreme one, whose house was reduced to a very few paths between ceiling high piles of stuff. At some point, her psychologist said that such people suffer from “clutter blindness”.

I will have to confess that I too suffer from that… although my piles of stuff are not all that high, I do manage to walk around them without really seeing them.

As for the organized piles of books in my life…

The small desk still contains books for the “big five”.

quantum mechanics:
Griffiths’ “introduction to elementary particles” (not that I ever seem to touch it!)

differential geometry:
Poor’s “differential geometric structures” (for fiber bundles)
Baker’s “matrix groups” (for Lie Groups and Lie Algebras)

dynamical systems:
Lynch’s “dynamical systems with applications using Mathematica” (which might force me to see what Mathematica 7 can do for 3D graphics; unfortunately, the book is version 5!)

control theory:
Morari & Zafirou’s “robust process control”
Bequette’s “process control” (both for Internal Model Control)
Coughanowr & Koppel’s “Process Systems Analysis & Control” (a rather pleasant and compact book, now that I understand the basics)
Ellis’ “control system design guide” (I have finally managed to replicate his first simulation — a challenge without his code.)
Yechout et al. “Introduction to aircraft flight mechanics” (which is what I’m headed for with all this theory)

time series (interestingly, all the regression books are back on the shelves for now, even though I’m in the middle of writing regression posts):
Gregory’s “Bayesian logical data analysis for the physical sciences”
Hayes’ “digital signal processing”
Thomson’s “theory of vibration with applications”

Two small tables nearby contain more books for things I’m working on.

Group Theory:
Dummit & Foote’s “abstract algebra” (I really like their treatments of homomorphisms and group actions).
Hibbard & Levasseur, “exploring abstract algebra with Mathematica” (Let someone else write the code while I do math!)

Rubens’ “win at poker” (just to remind me to do a few more calculations).

Logic (I haven’t really put this down yet):
Givant & Halmos “introduction to Boolean algebras”
Brown’s “Boolean reasoning”
Lewis Carroll’s “symbolic logic”

Linear programming:
Loomba & Turbin’s “applied programming for management” (sensitivity analysis)
Thie’s “an introduction to linear programming and game theory” (generating the final tableau from the initial tableau and the optimal solution)
Strang’s “linear algebra and its applications” (which seems to have a proof of the generation of the final tableau. I find Thie’s “proof” unconvincing.)

Bate et al, “fundamentals of Astrodynamics” (time on an elliptical orbit, goemetrically)
Pollard’s “celestial mechanics” (time on any orbit, analytically).

Seismology (as of this morning, but they may return to the shelves soon):
Lay & Wallace’s “modern global seismology”.
“The seismic wave field, volume 1”

All I need is a clone of myself… better, five or six.

I keep telling myself that it’s been over a hundred years since one mathematician knew all of mathematics, and I’ll never learn it all, so I’m allowed to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Except, of course, that I want to keep putting out posts about what I’ve learned. So let me get to the next regression post.


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