Monday, June 23, 2008


And again I am in Germany, fighting a jetlag. School holidays just begun, everybody is talking about soccer, and today I am visiting my parents. As you might know, I lived in Arizona for a while, and some years ago I brought my mother a couple of giant-cacti seeds. (The customs officer apparently was not too worried cacti would overtake the German fauna.) My mother indeed planted the seeds and here is how the baby cacti look at age 3 years

[Click to enlarge]

And that's how they look all grown up, takes a hundred years or so

[Click to enlarge]

The above photo was taken in Tucson, Sabino Canyon I think. One gets kind of used to these cacti, the really large ones are called Saguaro Cacti. During winter, Tucson has a couple of nights in which temperatures can drop below freezing point. Since the water content of these plants is quite high, to prevent the smaller arms of their cacti from freezing, people cover them with clothes or paper cups. Looks quite funny.

Browsing through my old image folder I also found some nice photos of blooming cacti: here, here, here and here.

If you think this post is pointless, that's because it is.

PS: And today is our 2nd wedding anniversary!


Domenic Denicola said...

Congratulations! :)

Anonymous said...

I would think that any post involving cacti is *very* pointed. Har Har.

Anonymous said...

I'm heading towards my 41st in August.

Rfl said...

I got my little baby cactus a few years ago. 'A few' means five or six.

And guess what. It's as tiny as it was on a shelf in that shop I went to.

Maybe I overwater, overcare and overeverything it (you can replace over- with under-)...

PS Your post isn't so pointless. It has just revealed a new reader of your blog (me). See? :)

Anonymous said...

re: arXiv:0806.1431v2 [hep-ph]

For what it's worth to you, here are some critical comments regarding my question about this 'test of string theory' that you were asking about on Woit's blog.

stefan said...

Thanks for the congratulations

Cheers, Stefan

Neil' said...

l love cacti, and congrats as well. It would be cute to see Lophophora williamsii in there too ... ;-)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

You complain about jet lag and related air travel, while it is only people like yourself that might solve all this by helping in perfecting quantum teleportation so that it might be extended to the macro scale and ultimately the living. This should provide the incentive to extend Anton Zeilinger's work. Therefore, I suggest you put everything else for now on the back burner. Then again, that destruction of the original copy requirement I can understand forms to be a bit of a concern:-)



P.S. Oh yes, happy anniversary to you and Stefan. That’s two down and I’m confident it will be followed by many more.

Arun said...


Klaus said...


Can cacti be considered nerdi? I dont know..!

tok the test:

My score was "mid-level nerd".

best Klaus

Giotis said...

Hi Bee,

Happy anniversary to you and Stefan. I wish you all the best.

Soccer?! I see that you've been americanized:). Here in Europe
we call it football and it is the best sport ever invented.


Bee said...

Hi Anonymous #2,

Thanks, that is interesting!

Btw, it is completely unrelated but since it was asked in that comment section: DSR does not imply a modification of the restmass. The point of changing the Lorentz-transformation is exactly to keep the modified mass-shell relation invariant. (That is not to say I am a fan of energy-dependent speeds of light.) Best,


Bee said...

Hi All,

Thanks for the nice wishes :-) Hard to believe it's been two years already.

Hi Rfl,

Yeah, you know, given that these cacti are some years old already I'd have expected them to be larger. The giant cacti, they grow about 10cm per year (so it takes about 100 years to reach 10m). I would guess the prime reason is just lack of sunlight. There is no way Germany can keep up with Tuscon in this regard. (Not to mention that, as you can see in the photo, the cacti stand in the shadow. That is, as my mother explains, to keep the tablecloth off from flying away when the wind blows. Just so you know.)

Hi Phil,

Yeah, quantum teleportation would certainly be better than sitting ten hours in a metal box staring at an in-seat screen that can't be turned off (!). I don't see how it would do away the time-shift problem though. But possibly one wouldn't call it jet-lag then, but quantum lag ;-)

Btw, my seat neighbor this flight: looked at my papers "Are you in research?," me: "Ohh-humm" - "What field are you in?" - "Theoretical physics" - "Aah... Do you know a place called Perimeter Institute?"



Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“But possibly one wouldn't call it jet-lag then, but quantum lag ;-)”

Your correct the lag would still remain and yet it wouldn’t be compounded by all the hassles involved in air travel which I suspect is the worst of it.

“Btw, my seat neighbor this flight: looked at my papers "Are you in research?," me: "Ohh-humm" - "What field are you in?" - "Theoretical physics" - "Aah... Do you know a place called Perimeter Institute?"”

So this seat neighbor was somewhat less timid then the last. Now you have left me hanging, for when they asked if you knew about PI and you being able to say you’re a researcher there, I suspect at least that would have cut down on a little of the in-seat screen staring time:-)



Andrew Thomas said...

I hate cacti. They're so ugly but you can't kill them. I had a small cactus and it was so ugly, bits sticking out everywhere. But I couldn't bring myself to chuck it away because that would be cruel. And everytime I felt guilty and watered it, it didn't get any healthier - it just sprouted a new bit and became uglier. I rented my apartment for three years and when I got back the cactus was still there. I was so pleased when I dropped a shelf on it a few weeks back and completely destroyed it because then I could chuck it out guilt-free!

Bee said...

Well, some cacti are quite pretty, e.g. the teddy bear cacti. You could have tried watering it to death, would that have let you feeling guilty? Stupid cactus if it doesn't know what to do with all that water ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Btw, it is completely unrelated but since it was asked in that comment section: DSR does not imply a modification of the restmass."

I am completely unfamiliar with this topic. When you say "energy-dependent speed of light", I'm assuming that this refers to the photon's energy?

How does this work? Does it infer that high-energy photons kind of deform the spacetime in which they move, kind of like a nonlinear backreaction of some type?

Just curious.

Kaleberg said...

Congratulations on your second year. May your hearts always be together, even when your fellowships (and the like) are not.

Also, congratulations on the cacti. Mine always died. On a brighter note, Science reports that deserts may be even better carbon sinks than temperate forests. While I won't advocate replacing the forests of the Alps with giant cactus, it might help with our carbon problem. (Wow, I hope not).

Andrew Thomas said...

Bee said: "Well, some cacti are quite pretty, e.g. the teddy bear cacti." That is sooo spooky - that Teddy Bear cactus is precisely the sort I DID have! You think that's pretty, with all that brown, dead stuff all over it and those bits sticking out all over the place? Those pictures are just like my cactus looked.

chimpanzee said...

Arizona is famous for its cactus (Saguaro, et al), California Mojave Desert doesn't have such. I like using fauna as foreground for comet astrophotos:

All were done from Organ Pipe National Monument (SW Arizona, near Mexican border). Those "jumping Cholla" cactus are really nasty, I had to pluck one out of my arm that night.

I brought some cactus back from Baja Mexico, & planted them in my front yard. Bad idea! Got rid of them fast. Thorns are not user friendly.

They have some crazy cactus down in Baja:

William said...

Really nice macro pictures of the cactus flowers.

Congratulations on the two years of happy marriage.

Thinking about the passage of the past two years, makes it hard to believe there is not a flow to time? Or the opposite (the block-time view), that those years have always existed? In any event, even if the passage of time is an illusion, illusions can seem so real and be fun to experience. :>)

Bee said...

Hi Andrew,

It is white actually, it looks really pretty in the sunshine. Like cotton candy. But it's probably a matter of taste. I too do prefer plants with leaves to be honest. Cacti just look so ... defensive I guess. Best,


Andrew Thomas said...

I don't think they're pretty, but I do think they're fascinating. So hard to kill.

(I see Lubos has continued his offensive stuff against you - very sorry. It's so unnecessary - I wish he'd give it up. Try not to let it get to you. We're all well-mannered friends on THIS blog ...)

Bee said...

Hi Andrew,

Yes, that's true. Deserts (or semi-deserts rspt) are very good places for meditation, they tell a story about survival and minimalism.

Thanks for the nice words. Indeed, I am very happy with our audience here and I enjoy the discussions. What Lubos writes about me doesn't bother me much as to content because he usually only makes accusations that are so completely off anything I said one can't take it seriously. I sometimes can't quite figure out whether he indeed isn't able to understand what I write, or just doesn't want to. His rants are so nonconstructive it's a complete waste of time for everybody involved. I just occasionally wonder what I did to deserve such hostility, it is a mystery to me. Best,


Andrew Thomas said...

I'm convinced he's secretly obsessed with you (he seems to be!). Totally fixated with unrequited lust.

bellamy said...

Um, a little late to the litter here, and I'm surprise at least someone familiar with Arizona didn't say, it's not Tuscon.

Bee said...

Thanks, typo fixed!

Anonymous said...

As a botany nerd, I'd like to add that cacti are awesome because they temporally separate aspects of photosynthesis (contrast C4 plants, who spatially separate aspects of photosynthesis, or regular plants, who don't).

Happy Anniversary