Saturday, May 08, 2010

Interna

If the charming Icelandic volcano lets me, I'll be flying to Toronto on the weekend. Next week, I'll be attending the PI workshop on the "Laws of Nature:Their Nature and Knowability," which promises to be interesting. I have some more trips upcoming this summer. Towards the end of June, there's a meeting of the "Working group on quantum black holes" in Bonn (which is part of the COST action "Black holes in a violent universe"), the SUSY 2010 happens to be also in Bonn in August. The Planck 2010 is May 31 to June 4 at CERN, where I will not be going because it conflicts with my Toronto trip. And of course there's the ESQG 2010, July 12-16, here in Stockholm. To top off the summer, my 15 year high school reunion is also planned for August. Not the busiest summer ever, but still seems I'll collect some frequent flyer miles.

You'll hear from me when I'm on the other side of the big water. Meanwhile, have a nice weekend or, as the Swedes say, ha det så bra.

11 comments:

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

Hi Bee,

Nature as of late has certainly been a pain and then of course with things like the spilling of oil in the Gulf of Mexico we haven’t been very respectful of her. So then perhaps this conference considering the laws of nature is timely one, as perhaps you can discover if there is an appeal process when she has decided we have violated any of them:-)

Best,

Phil

Uncle Al said...

The sun is awakening - wear a film badge to see how your cumulative high altitude radiation exposure sums. Carry a spare or three to gift Homeland Severity standing next to their genital irradiation booths.

"Stopping terrorism one innocent person at a time since September 2001."

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Well, as I said earlier somewhere I think it does not make sense to speak of Nature as excluding humans. I tend to think we're part of Nature, so nothing we do is unnatural. I think the relevant distinction is not whether something is natural or not but, if it's to our disadvantage, whether it would have been avoidable or not.

Take the volcano eruption in Iceland. Now I read that the environmental impact (except for the close vicinity of course) will remain moderate in this case. But in the Earth's history there have certainly been volcano eruptions that have had a much larger impact. Now imagine that a similar incident would not have been caused by a volcano but by some human-built installation (use your imagination). There would be demonstrations and upheavals all over the planet. On the other hand, I can imagine that an oil spill like the one happening right now would have been caused by a natural disaster (maybe an earthquake? or an underwater volcano?). Again it seems to me the result could have been the same or very similar, but we'd have nobody to blame. (Leaving aside the religious fanatics who believe earthquakes and volcano eruption are caused by immodestly dressed women.)

In any case, what I'm trying to say is that I think people take the volcano eruption quite stoically so far, because nobody seriously expects the Icelanders to keep their volcanoes under control, while BP is expected to control their drilling. If you believe in determinism, trying to blame anybody for anything becomes quite complicated actually. Maybe a good thing most people believe quantum mechanics is fundamentally non-deterministic ;-)
Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Uncle,

Homeland security in Canada is moderate. The first time I flew to Canada with a stopover in the USA was also the last time. I was yesterday reading a quite interesting elaboration though on whether or not cheesecake and turkey fillings count as gel and thus can't be taken through US security. I can just imagine the headlines: plane hijacked with blueberry cheesecake. Best,

B.

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

Hi Bee,

Actually I think for most people the opposite is true, as most don’t even know that there is this apparent randomness at the heart of nature, as to think things like volcanoes are part of natures plan and thus shouldn’t be trifled with, where now every bad event happening with the weather today being assigned as the result of our meddling. I think you give the general public too much credit as I’m convinced if tested the gap between what is known and what is commonly known is rapidly widening. I meet people every day in my course of work, with professional credentials that should have them to know things even in respect to their own disciplines that they demonstrate they don’t, which leaves me extremely uncomfortable about our collective future.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

"I think you give the general public too much credit"

I wasn't so much giving credit as more stating a fact. When a volcano erupts, people don't go and yell that the Icelandic government should step back. Best,

B.

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

is there any coincidence here.. weather goes from warm back to cold.. bee returns to waterloo from sweden.. hmmmm...I did hear some talk of snow flurries in VT this past weekend too

Bee said...

Hi Snowboarder,

Yeah, that's of course my fault ;-) But the weather is only temporarily shocked about my arrival, it seems it will recover on the weekend. Best,

B.

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