Monday, November 30, 2009

Art and Science: Kandinsky

Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (English pronunciation: /kənˈdɪnski/; Russian: Васи́лий Васи́льевич Канди́нский, Vasilij Vasil'evič Kandinskij; 4 December [O.S. 4 December] 1866 – 13 December 1944) was a Russian painter, and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.

I had the pleasure of seeing a large exhibition of his work yesterday at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (89th St. and Fifth Avenue) with my 18-yr-old Art School daughter. I'd never heard of him (in spite of being the son of two artists who met at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute) and boy was I impressed. His use of color is extraordinary, and indeed he studied the Science of Color (the Electromagnetic Spectrum for those of us Science-minded), and it shows.

Good show. Here is a sampling of his works:





Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bad Words, a Better Word, and a Dirty Word

Here are some thoughts I have after observing Humanity for just over a half-century and the incredible duality we Humans have in both communicating and mis-communicating, often in the extreme.


“Smart”, “Stupid”, “Idiot”, “Moron” and “Dumb”

The problem I have with these words is that they’re incomplete in describing persons and situations. I would replace them with:


I make this mistake myself quite often in spite of being educated. If nothing else it shows how difficult it is to change words once they become part of the vernacular.



I have the perfect substitute: “Reality”.

Imagine getting a PhD in Reality. Much more descriptive. Or my current hobby, “Mathematical Physics”, would become “Realistic Mathematics”. Much more descriptive as well.



Not sure if my attitude on this comes from my English or Slovak heritage, which are my two primaries. Not sure I have enough French or German genes for them to dominate. Possibly my third heritage, which is Dutch. The Dutch are very industrious. I wish I had more Dutch genes however, as a house and two kids in college plus two Recessions equals my current poverty.

In any event, on both sides of my family, none of my grandparents truly retired. They always had something going, some project they were working on. A new Hobby can become a new Profession if one works it enough, my parents’ and grandparents’ lives attest to that. Would that it would be so for everyone.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NEWSFLASH ! Schrödinger's Cat Returns From Nuclear Animal Experimentation Death at LHC in Geneva As Giant Higgsino Feline To Send Earth Into a Many-Worlds Anthropic Landscape South of the South Pole and Toss Million-Card Playing Card Deck Into Past via Virtual Tachyons to Kill Superconducting Super Collider in Texas, and Boy is He Pissed

 Click on the above picture to see official CERN Management reaction.

Meanwhile, some of his descendants make a brief appearance. Very brief:

I love those pics! I got them from the following page: I Can Haz Large Hadron Collider ?

Cats will of course be needed to help control the vicious baguette-dropping evil bird population.

CERN - Making Bigger Proton Train Wrecks Today, This Week Maybe, Cross Your Fingers We Hope, COULD Happen You Can't Prove it Can't Heh, Assuming the French Power Grid Doesn't Brownout, to Build A Better Tomorrow

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Center of Our Galaxy

This just-released photograph of the center of our Milky Way galaxy will be hung on classroom walls throughout America. I think it's absolutely beautiful. For more details read the Science News article here

Well, that didn't work, and so, frustrated that my questions weren't being answered at Science News, I asked George Musser,   Senior Editor at Scientific American for help and he he directed me to the Chandra website, here

Now, THAT'S interactive! To whit, the picture is a composite of the following wavelengths:

                                                                  X-RAY :





Please don't ask why I threw that pic from the film "Dogma" in there. I can't figure my own brain out, who can?

I'm unique, just like everyone else.


Monday, November 9, 2009

New LHC Procedures


To All CERN Employees:

By now you have heard of the unfortunate recent setback to the LHC caused by a bird dropping an improperly disposed-of baguette  inside the LHC. Our security cameras have caught the culprit in action and here is a still of the unfortunate incident:

VERY IMPORTANT! This situation is NOT to repeat itself, and in order to minimize the possibility of a repeat setback of this particular nature we are ordering you to affect the following changes in procedures, effective immediately:

1) To CERN Security Guards

Birds are NO LONGER ALLOWED to enter our buildings. Please increase your vigilance. Particularly, should a PhD ask you to exchange parking lot space nameplates with a fellow PhD with whom they have personal/professional issues to get them  a spot closer to the LHC entrance, you are NOT to comply with this request until your fellow guard returns from his or her nap in the restroom. Specifically, you are to have at least one guard present and bird-watching at your station before playing musical nameplates.

2) To Our Wonderful Cafeteria Kitchen Staff

Loose baguettes and other organic foodstuffs are not to be tolerated, especially since Security seems incapable of keeping birds out of our facilities.

Please understand that we mean no disrespect in the following procedures we wish you to implement. We fully appreciate your excellent cooking skills especially the fine French Chardonnays and Johnny Walker Blue Scotch-on-the-rocks you prepare and serve in the Executive Lunchroom. We merely ask that you help us maintain this facility in such a way that we all still have a job next year.

First, please keep the lids of all waste receptacles closed at all times.

Second, dispose of all organic waste (especially baguettes) by walking over to the receptacle, lifting the lid, scrapping off the waste from plates into the receptacle, then closing the lid. Keeping the lid open and playing scraps basketball from across the room is no longer an option. We must all work as a team if there is any frigging hope of getting this infernal machine up and running at something even resembling full power.

3) To our newest employees, CERN Bird Hunters

Welcome aboard, mates! Feel free to avail yourselves at any time of the fine dining experiences in our Executive Lunchroom, and please forgive the intolerably long meetings regarding your skills or whatever random bullshit that are held mainly by second-tier managers in pathetic attempts to justify their continued employment. Happy hunting, and please don’t shoot at our excellent welds, or welders, however firing at empty bottles of Warsteiners found along beam pipes are fair game for target practice.

4) To all CERN employees

Please immediately report any loose baguettes or birds to those Union employees whose job it is to dispose of them, or to your immediate supervisor. If this intolerable event were to be repeated we may have to exert harsh cost-cutting measures to prevent the LHC  from going the way of the United States’ SSC, that is to say: canceled.

Said harsh measures may include but would not be limited to frozen salaries, layoffs, the hiring of less competent welders, and to show that we in Management are willing to share the pain, a 25% increase in the water content of the Scotch-and-waters served in the Executive Lunchroom by our fine Kitchen Staff.

Gratefully yours,
CERN Management

CERN - Making Bigger Proton Train Wrecks Today or One of These Years to Build A Better Tomorrow

Monday, November 2, 2009

5Dst (4s + 1t) Dimensional Speculations Continued: A Possible Explanation for Virtual Particles and Quantum Entaglement

Excuse me if the following ideas are dis-pleasing, I simply wish to apply Occam's Razor to these points rather than get out Occam's Sword (currently needed desperately in G.U.T. theories), Occam's Long Sword and Shield, Occam's Mace or Hammer, and hopefully never Occam's Nuclear Weapon. Therefore, I require the services of a speculative Theoretical Mathematical Physicist to help or hinder the following approach if or before it gets much further.

1) Virtual Particles

We know yet are astounded that particles can spontaneously come into being in the vacuum. They live very short lives, thanks to Indeterminacy (Heisenberg's own word for his better known "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle", specifically the delta-E times delta-T version).

They briefly violate Conservation of Energy and Mass but not for very long as they are anti-particles to each other, and annihilate soon after birth.

How can this possibly be so?

Well, I will use a 3D (2+1) / 4D (3+1) analogy which can be expanded  to a 4D (3+1) / 5D (3+1) possible reality, which will require little thought in an extrapolatory sense, hopefully.

Think of "Flatland", a 2D space with and 1D of time (2Ds + 1Dt = 3Dst), say: a flat sheet of paper if you will. Imagine a circle intersecting it from "outside" that space (in our own an apparent 3Ds + 1Dt = 4Dst world).

At first we see nothing as the circle approaches. At the moment of contact our Flatlanders see a point. Then they see two points going away from each other. Then as the circle passes the halfway point, they come closer, ending in a point and disappearing.

The circle always remains a circle, the paper always flat, but the appearances are relative, and our poor Flatlanders remain confused until they grow the brains to understand the situation via their version of particle accelerators which in our world we call: "scissors".

2) Quantum Entanglement

The same would hold for QE, as our virtual particles (say an electron and positron) were actually part of the same particle, except the Flatlanders could not see that. Say: the circle is spinning. If so the direction of spin would be equal but opposite for the two "particles" as the Flatlanders measure them. Indeed if they measure the "spin" of one, they instantly know the "spin" of the other.

This may be so simple that's it's wrong, but is it at least possible?


Best regards,

Steve Colyer

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Martin Gardner !

Martin Gardner of Tulsa Oklahoma turned 95 this month. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Martin! I can't remember how many times he livened up my many boring study halls in high school thanks to the column he wrote for Scientific American (from 1956-1981).

Here's my favorite picture of him (yes, we were all young once):

Martin Gardner in the US Navy, 1942. Thank you for your Service, Dr. G !

Martin does not in fact have a Doctorate degree (and being the wonderful modest man he is he'd be the first to tell you), but in the hearts of millions he may as well. If he hasn't been awarded an honorary one that would be a crime. In my heart and home he has one, though.

One thing we remember Gardner for especially is turning us on to the game of "Life." What a beautiful diversion and seemingly Mathematics of a "Pure" variety, it actually has usage across a broad number of fields.

Click here to see Gardner's original article in Oct. 1970 Scientific American, and here to play the game. Pay attention to "Gosper Gliding Gun" and see if that doesn't get you excited. I'm actually working on a version of triangles, not squares, and looking for the "gun" in that scenario. Viva la Emergence !

 Gardner has a new book out. Click here to see its Amazon page.

Hey, Dr. Gardner. I have a question for you. We all know that i = the square root of negative one, such that i squared equals negative one. But tell me this:

WHAT is the square root of i ? Tough one, eh?

Oh. OK, fine. But can you prove it?

Well done!

I got that question and proof from a wonderful UK website: Murderous Maths

No, Gardner didn't answer that question or as far as I know had anything to do with that website. I just found out about that site by visiting his Wkipedia entry and following links.