Happenings – 2010 Nov 6

It’s been a relatively uneventful week.

Clearly, I got out a post last Monday. It was even a regression post, and it was even the one I had planned on. Now, of course, I need to work on a post for this coming Monday. I expect that it will be another regression post… but until it’s actually done, I won’t bet on it.

I did something a little different this past week… I spent my spare time following threads through a wide variety of books.

Let’s see. Seismology, in particular waves traveling through the earth, led me to elasticity, for which – of course – I have a few books, none of which I understand and all of which I would like to master.

Seismology also led me back to the interior of the Sun and the stellar interior equations… and – of course – I have a few books. In this case I’d settle for numerical solution of the simplest form of the equations.

Solar fusion led me back to elementary particles and “the standard model”… that really is what they call the no-longer-quite-valid model of elementary particles… it needs to be changed because the standard model assumes that neutrinos have no mass. Well, they do have mass, so the standard model needs to change a little. And – of course – I have a few books… two of which are recent enough to discuss the implications of neutrinos having mass.

These got me looking at spinors… which got me looking at representations of groups… because one of the paths to understanding spinors is the spinor representations of rotation groups.

Oh, collisions of atomic and subatomic particles got me to looking through my special relativity books… much of which I understand but am not a master of… but the fact remains that I struggle through relativistic particle collisions.

Then I discovered that an old special relativity book of mine has a wonderful exposition of spinors. But that didn’t stop me from ordering three more books about them. (At least one of them talks about fiber bundles, too.)

These, in turn, reinforced my conviction that Griffiths’ “Introduction to Elementary Particles” must be the next book I work through in the general topic of quantum mechanics.

It’s not as though I’m ever going to understand all of this… but any time I get tired of what I’m doing on a math day, there ought to be some other mathematics that will get me excited again.

As I intimated, I don’t often spend all of my evenings for a week just chasing through a couple of dozen books… but I have to say that it was fun.

Yes, it makes me feel very ignorant… there is so much that I do not understand… and, I hate to admit it, the mathematics in all of those books isn’t going to seep into my brain by osmosis.

While I was mulling over this post, before I had even assembled ideas, one of my cats required petting in the recliner in front of the TV – so I turned it on and found a lecture about the National Ignition Facility at the Livermore National Laboratory. Talk about serendipity: I’ve been looking at how stars work… and the Lab is trying to make a small one.

Okay, enough retrospection and introspection. My mathematics books – in all their forms – are calling to me. And I have a post to write and assemble.


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