Happenings – 2012 Apr 21

There isn’t a whole lot new going on.

I did ask the USGS to notify me of magnitude 2.5 earthquakes “in the Bay Area” – and in a week I haven’t seen a single one. So much for daily occurrences! Now, I got to define what area I wanted, and perhaps I made it too small.

While I was out there I saw something I had missed – and I’m very glad I had, because if I had seen this earlier I would never have taken the time to forecast earthquakes.

That’s what I had said: 8s are annual, 7s are monthly, 6s are more than weekly, and 5s are more than daily.

Incidentally, my alter ego the kid picked up a book on modern global seismology – and I have had to add the continuum mechanics of solids to his nanny’s list of things to clean up after him. Well, it’s another one of those things I look at every once in a while.

I have 2 possible posts for Monday: they are at stage IV – the narrative is done, as well as the mathematics.

On the other hand, I could try to collect images of trusses. I don’t really want to work any more truss problems, but I also don’t want to just drop the subject. Such a post, consisting mostly of pictures, should require negligible commentary…but this could be a fairly long search…and if I make the drawings myself, it could take time.

And yet, once I’ve made each drawing, if I ever decide to work a problem using that particular truss…well, I’ll at least have the drawing ready. Hmm. Do I really want to take the time to add labels?

Finally, let me talk very briefly about the Oppenheimer lecture at Cal (UC Berkeley) almost 2 weeks ago.

I didn’t check until the morning of the lecture to see who the speaker was. All I knew about him was that he was a Nobel laureate.

I was thrilled to see that the speaker was Gerard ‘t Hooft. I don’t usually recognize the names of new Nobel laureates in physics – but, back in 1999 when his name was announced, I knew who he was and what he had done.

He had proved that the electroweak theory was renormalizable – the infinities that show up when we work with Feynman diagrams all cancel out.

Then, I believe, he showed that the model of quarks was renormalizable.

In short, I thought of him as being a theoretical physicist’s mathematical physicist. He was the one who proved everything.

To top it off, a few years before he won the Nobel Prize, he wrote a small book called “In search of the ultimate building blocks” (Cambridge, 0-521-57883-3). It’s a great little survey of modern particle physics, in 180 pages, by an acknowledged master. If you’re interested in the subject, and less than a master yourself, you might want to pick this up…even if it only serves as an introduction to more detailed texts.

So I spent the morning reading it. (Of course I owned it.)

It turns out that his lecture that afternoon was at about the same level, albeit more focused on gauge theories and the Higgs particle; after all, he only an hour and a half. He did not, however, talk about recent experimental evidence from the LHC (large hadron collider).

And with that, let me loose the dogs of war – the boys of summer? – no, the kids of math – and get about my business today.


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