Thursday, February 24, 2011

Five years Backreaction

Five years ago I wrote the first post for this blog. Since then I've moved from Santa Barbara to Canada and from Canada to Sweden. I've organized and attended multiple conferences and workshops, written a bunch of papers and reviewed a pile of books. Stefan finished his thesis and graduated, started a new job and moved to Heidelberg. We married, I got pregnant, and Stefan moved into a larger apartment. Presently, I am on parental leave and our little girls are almost two months old. During all this time, our blog has been a constant companion and we want to thank all our readers and commenters for the company!


Phil Warnell said...

Dear Bee and Stefan,

I would just like to say, that since my discovery of your blog, it too has been a constant and welcomed companion. That is it has not simply provided a variety of subject matter, thought and amusement, yet also serves as sounding board and scale against which my own understanding, soundness of opinion and sense of well being can be evaluated and given opportunity to grow. That is it has had me to become more firmly convinced than ever, that knowing things and thinking things alone having little value and provides scant gratification when they having no outlet to be shared.

This blog stands as a reminder of what is so often overlooked, that the important distinction to be made between our species and other creatures, being our potential is greater than the sum total of our individual physical abilities and cognitive capacity, as only realized through our seemingly innate desire and understanding, that when these are shared serves each of us better, in then finding ourselves more complete. So in such regard I thank you for caring enough to spare the time and effort to have created this space, as it being one I so much enjoy to visit and happily regularly return.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy fifth anniversary,


Steven Colyer said...

Since I don't write as well as Phil, I'll just say thanks to you as well, and see if you can't get Stefan to put fingers to keyboard every now and then between testing milk bottle temperatures, and thanks for all the fish.

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
... Douglas Adams

Next month will mark my second anniversary here myself (seems like yesterday), and if I ever accomplish anything in this game, I'll have you and Stefan and your fine posters to thank for greatly reducing my learning curve.

Arun said...

Thanks, Bee and Stefan, it has been our pleasure. It has been a pleasure to see this blog grow from one to four :)

xlines said...

Happy b-day for my favorite not-so-technical physics blog! :)

Kay zum Felde said...

Dear Bee and Stefan,

it is always a pleasure to read your interesting blogs and commentaries on our commentaries. I hope, this will go on for a long time.

Best Kay

Eric said...

Hi Bee,
You are doing very good work and I'm glad you are sharing it with us. I think this is a particularly interesting time for physics with many cross currents pulling and tugging. There is a certain intellectual inertia in all of us and you have managed well to fill us in where you think those points are. Sometimes we have pushed back and disagreed. But I think I can say that just having you put ideas into words and forcing us to voice in words our own ideas has been hugely rewarding. At least for me it has been. And of course it always makes one feel less alone to communicate with fellow travelers on the journey. Thanks.

Plato said...

A big thank you for being hosts to all the posts and interesting conversations.


Christine said...

Happy Anniversary!


Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee (and Stefan) - thanks for the very many insightful posts over these past years and as well putting up with all the riff-raff that come to visit the blog! May I be the first to suggest that the 10th will require a non-virtual celebration? (preferably somewhere with snowboarding of course!)

Neil B said...

Congrats on your blog pentaversary, Bee and Stefan, et al! I have found the scientific and socio-philosophical essays very interesting and often illuminating, written in a fetching style and very impressive English for an EASL practictioner, thought-provoking, with convincing counsel in many cases. The best of the interdisciplinary pieces about science and society are of the caliber of from greats like CP Snow. Much belongs on the pages of the great high-end general interest magazines and blogs, really. Much effort put into helpful BO comments, being worth the rigorous discipline ;-). Thank you, and you're welcome, too. Carry on.

Steven Colyer said...

What is blogspot up to? I can only get feeds from the last 6 hours. Why? There are many gods, but who are the worst gods? That's right, the blogspot gods.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

I don’t think I write all that well and may explain why I have messed up Bee’s and Stephan’s space so often with my erasures. That is why I also like to include quotes, as I invariably find someone else has expressed things much better than I often can. In having said that, the last one I offered was truncated and now discover I should have given the full rendition, as it in total more aptly expresses what I find to be the value and quality of this blog and its authors.

“ To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. “

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



Neil B said...

Phil, strive to be concise, not flowery! You can learn a lot from Bee's style, which manages to balance various needs and aesthetic concerns.

Nirmalya said...

This blog has been an engaging and inspiring read for me : very honest and straightforward, funny, incisive, intelligent and very civil and very very nice.

Best wishes to Backreaction!

Uncle Al said...

The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed. Always pursue the statistical anomaly! They'll forget when you were wrong and extoll your virtues for being correct. Keep your ideas public.

(Those who are always wrong become economists, psychologists, and politicians. Being burned in effigy is not nearly as inconvenient as the alternative.)

Steven Colyer said...

Phil, you're fine just the way you are, brah. No excuses, don't ever change.

Steven Colyer said...

Uncle Al writes;
Those who are always wrong become economists, psychologists, and politicians. Being burned in effigy is not nearly as inconvenient as the alternative.

LOL!! :-)

You are ONE CRAZY sumbitch, Al, I am NOT the first person to have that opinion, am I?

Don't you ever change either. ;-0

stefan said...

Dear All,

thanks a lot for all the kind words and the good wishes for Backreaction's anniversary! It's indeed amazing to see it five years old already!

Steven, I haven't give up yet the hope that I'll write a post again some day ;-)



Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for completely liking and accepting me as I am, thus having you becoming part of a exclusive group, that is along with my dear mother and perhaps a few others:-). Then again how could I not take Neil’s advice to heart, especially in light of the example he offered as perhaps those managing striking a better balance. That said, in general I still find to many people these days wanting to be overly concise at the sacrifice of having their meaning clear. I suppose that is one reason I haven’t been tempted to become more of a tweeter :-)

-"The supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience"

-Albert Einstein, from the book "Ideas and Opinions" Crown Publishing (1954)



Steven Colyer said...

Thanks, Stefan. Well if the reason you haven't written has something to do with two new humans and/or you job at Springer on top of that (and taking out the garbage, which is Job 1), we can fully understand so don't rush on our account.

If on the other hand, it's for lacks of ideas, may I suggest some that take us away from the silly SuperStrings Wars and LHC stuff that seems to be crowding out everything else, like quark-gluon plasma (or just plasma in general!)?

In particular, I was thinking of as simple an explanation as possible of the following (since you both are superb at making the complicated understandable):

The realm of the very large, of galaxies and the filaments of same and the voids between them have always fascinated me.

Perhaps chief among them are the jets, called polar jets when non-relativistic and relativistic when not, that shoot out from the poles of everything from neutron stars to stellar-sized black holes to galactic-sized black holes to quasars (active galaxies).

Apparently there are 2 competing theories on the origin and mechanism of the faster relativistic ones, that I just became aware of, called Blandford-Znajek process and Penrose mechanism.

I'm curious if anyone knows how things are progressing to solving this interesting mystery, given the fantastic amount of new data the observatories on earth and in space are providing.

These are also drawn into the mathematics of "Frame-dragging", an interesting field in its own right, which basically says that matter in a rotating body warps space-time due to the rotation, which was predicted in 1918 based on Einstein's field equations of General Relativity.

Hi Phil,

Well, the reason I completely like and accept you as you are is a default, because I presently lack the funds to motor on up to Toronto to beat you into submission to seeing things my way and only my way! lol, just kidding, except for the lack of funds thing. ;-0 No, hey man, you've opened my eyes to something I long suspected, that being that things aren't always black and white and shades of gray (In Canada: grey) should always be considered, so thanks again.

Steven Colyer said...

oops, I should have said drags space-time not warps as even a non-rotating body warps it. Sheesh, I type too fast. Or think too fast and type too slow. Or something.

Neil B said...

Phil - thanks for being accepting of advice (and it was prompted by your own implicit appeal), and yet to be accepted as you are is wonderful too. As I have said your writing is elegant and brings up shades of meaning and context. Then again, there are times when you have limited space and time and want to get teh (sic!) same basic point out. It's good to have the ability, just like it's good for a delicately dexterous person to have the chops to tug hard when needed. Hey, you can do both.

Steven: the subject of frame-dragging is fascinating and experiments have been talked about for years (I recall, back in the 70s reading the old Pugh/Schiff proposal for a satellite test. One thing that has to be taken into account is the SRT Thomas precession, one of my fascinations and about which the issue of conservation of angular momentum is poorly elucidated in the literature.) Somehow, according to Wikipedia: Frame-dragging, good experiments still haven't been effectively completed. This effect can be considered part of the gravitational analog of magnetism, usually called gravitational magnetism or gravitomagnetism, but I propose "gravitism" as a cuter and shorter alternative.

BTW Steven, had time to finish digesting my FQXI essay yet? I added a new experimental test involving spatial decoherence, not just the instance-varying type of the original MZI case. The piece needs more comments, etc.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for your support; I think :-) As for the difficulty in getting up my way I would alleviate that situation by me making the effort, that is if time not being more of a factor, rather than one of resource. Hell I’d even put out of my mind I would be also be getting closer to the New York Yankees and Leonard Susskind :-)

More seriously though, in the last few years I’ve felt less welcome in your neck of the woods, with what 911 has mitigated as to have happened to our more general mutual acceptance and historic relationship. Interestingly enough with the apparent recent effectiveness of what I would call the “Facebook” facilitated revolutions, perhaps better described as “In Your Facebook Revolutions” , I have a mind to start a page to ask all my countrypersons to refrain from giving reason to having America become more uncomfortable with having us being present. That is I find that in the end action or in this case inaction, as Ghandi would have advised, might speak louder than words.

I apologize for the rant and being off topic; I guess it’s just that non political/economical focused Canadian brand of Globalism bubbling to the surface:-) Then again of course this is but a fools dream, especially with our dollar slightly now higher valued then yours and all those bargains to be had; that is despite your your Commander and Chief now proposing to more justify the feeling ; sigh.



Phil Warnell said...

Hi Neil,

I always take seriously what you have to say, as I’ve found that your intent by in large is meant to offer constructive criticism, rather than the opposite. That is I would concur that the current nature of the world suggests we be more economical than ever before. However what I’m more fearful of, is that it also might relate to what forms to be the aggregate of the average attention span. I think the only way to combat this relates to Bee’s sentiments regarding publications with recognizing it better to say more, yet less often and then only when it having meaningful significance.

Interestingly enough one of those I consider as having wisdom, in that being Robert Pirsig, was to have expressed the same when it came to the relationship between quality and quantity. Better still he was a perosn that followed his own convictions, with so far only ever writing two books; with the first being “Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance” (1974) and the second “Lila” (1991).

In such regard I’ve often wondered what the world would be like if we all not only felt, yet acted the same. That is would the silence be so deafening to have most if not all go mad or would it leave more space to hear one’s own thoughts and reflect upon those of others of quality more often?



Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Neutron mass = Proton mass + 3(Einstein mass). [99.9967% level]

Electron = (sqrt 3/2)(Einstein mass).

sqrt 3/2 = [j(j+1)/a]^1/2 and j=a=1/2.

Einstein mass = (alpha^2 e^2/G')^1/2

G' = 2.18 x 10^31 cgs units.

So that's 11 major baryons, the electron and the neutron at the <99.6>% level.

But of course one is not allowed to think of subatomic particles as Kerr-Newman ultracompacts, since that would involve gravitation in the quantum domain, and negate most of theoretical hep hermetics.

What is a natural philosopher to do in an era of Platonic pseudo-science?


Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Robert, can't you just this once congratulate Bee and Stefan on the fifth anniversary of their blog. There is plenty of other times that we all get to discuss our physics theories.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Yes we can!

Congratulations Bee and Stefan on the 5-year mark for the blog.

And on approaching the point at which you might get to sleep for a full 6-8 hours undisturbed.

Isn't life strange and stressful and wonderful all at the same time?


William said...

What an eventful 5 years. Marriage, location changes, pregnancy, births, and all. Can you post that as a Feynman diagram? :)

Thanks and congratulations!