Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Interna

Mamasonnenbrille.
It’s not like nothing happened, I just haven’t had the time to keep you updated on our four-body problems.

Earlier this year, we had handed over the stalled case on our child benefits to an EU institution called “SOLVIT” that takes on problems with national institutions under EU regulations. Amazingly, they indeed solved our problem efficiently and quickly. And so, after more than two and a half years and an inch of paperwork, Stefan finally gets child benefits. Yoo-hoo! If you have any institutional problem with a family distributed over several EU countries, I can recommend you check out the SOLVIT website. I really wish though the Germans and the Swedes could converge on one paper punch pattern, then I wouldn’t have to keep two different types of folders.

She knows the numbers from
1 to 10, but not their order.
Lara and Gloria will turn 3 in December and so we are about to switch from daycare to Kindergarten. They both speak more or less in full sentences now and come up with questions like "Where do clouds go at night?" and "Mommy, are you wearing underwear?" They still refer to themselves by first name though rather than using “I”, and are struggling with German grammar. At daycare the kids sing a lot, which feeds them weird vocabulary that may be delivered spontaneously in unexpected situations, Butzemann! Tschingderassabum! Wo ist meine Zie-har-mo-ni-ka? The girls both love puzzles and Lego and the wooden railway. On occasion they now demand to sit on their potty, though the timing isn’t quite working yet.

Lara can't let go of the binky, but is
okay as long as it's in the vicinity.
I meanwhile have decided, after a long back and forth, that I’ll not attend next year’s FQXi conference. The primary reason is that I looked up the flight connections and the inconvenience of getting to Vieques Island exceeds my pain tolerance. I am very reluctant these days to attend any meeting that requires me to be away on weekends and that isn’t located in vicinity of a major international airport, thus adding to my travel time. Secondary reason is that I’m not particularly interested in the topic ("The Physics of Information"), and I can just see it degenerating into yet another black hole firewall discussion. At the same time I’m sorry to miss the meeting, because from all the conferences that I’ve attended the FQXi conferences were undoubtedly the most inspiring ones.

Speaking of pain tolerance, I ran a marathon last weekend. I’ve always wondered why people run marathons. Now that I have a finisher medal, I am still wondering why people do this to themselves. I really like running, but there were too many people and too much noise on these 42 km for me.

I admit I plainly didn’t know before my first 10k about a year ago that these races tend to have typically only 20% or so of female participants. (The Frankfurt marathon had 15%, though the recent numbers from the USA look better). I find this surprising given that most of the people I meet jogging in the fields tend to be women. Neither did I know until some months ago that women weren’t even allowed in marathons until the mid 1970s, for somewhat mysterious reasons that seem to go back to the (unpublished) beliefs of some (unnamed) physicians that the female body isn’t meant for long-distance running – a claim that nobody bothered to check until some women stood up and disproved it. It’s an interesting tale, about which you can read here.

In entirely different news, Nordita now spreads word about the wonders of theoretical physics on Twitter and on Facebook. These feeds are fed by Apostolos Vasileiadis, creator of the recently mentioned short film located at Nordita. If you share our love of physics, check it out and I hope we’ll not disappoint.

Also keep in mind this year’s deadline for program proposals is Nov 15. The Stockholm weather can’t compete with Santa Barbara, but I’m told our programs are better funded :o) Instructions for the application can be found on the Nordita homepage.

19 comments:

Tom Weidig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Weidig said...

If I were to a apply the often-invoked feminist argument of equal proportions, I have to argue that women must be discriminated against (even if it is not obvious how, then subtly) when running marathon as the proportion is not 50%-50% but 20%-80%.

Phillip Helbig said...

"I know until some months ago that women weren’t even allowed in marathons until the mid 1970s,"

Similar situation with ski jumping.

Phillip Helbig said...

"If I were to a apply the often-invoked feminist argument of equal proportions, I have to argue that women must be discriminated against"

No, no discrimination, it's just difficult to run far when you're barefoot and pregnant. :-)

Phillip Helbig said...

"If I were to a apply the often-invoked feminist argument of equal proportions, I have to argue that women must be discriminated against"

For some real discrimination, visit a chess tournament. Obviously, women are at a disadvantage because they are physically not as strong, those chess players are awesome macho dudes who have a stone-age understanding of the sexes and there are no objective criteria for ability so that the alpha males can make their own rules and keep the women out. :-)

An opposite example: I often take language classes in the evening, usually 2 nights a week, and have been doing so for 30 years. There are almost always many more women than men, and often I am the only man in a class of a dozen or so. But we all know women like to talk. :-|

I'm still looking for a relatively well known female rock musician who is a) not a singer, b) not romantically involved with any of the boys in the band and c) not part of something marketed as a girl group. (Not that there is anything wrong with any of these, but most male rock musicians are a) not singers, b) not romantically involved with anyone in the band and c) not part of something marketed as a boy group.) I can think of only one example, and that is a bit strange for another reason. With other types of music, it is often the case that there are many more female than male musicians, and I've been to several concerts where all the musicians were women, even though this wasn't planned in any way.

Uncle Al said...

"Tschingderassabum!" Onomatopoetically, we have one for President; meaningfully, too - but not in a good way. "Mommy, are you wearing underwear?" Have your phone at the ready: "Ask your father." His facial expression will be priceless with one of life's little moments.
"the female body isn’t meant for long-distance running" Pelvic compromises for fitting a baby adversely affect anatomic angles for efficient running. Theory must never contradict empirical observation, for the universe does not crunch numbers.

Plato Hagel said...

Bee:I just haven’t had the time to keep you updated on our four-body problems.

Haha....certainly a different take with regard to the orbits the family can run in, in terms of locations. As a Lagrangian interaction, who knew?:) Certainly can see how some things can flow through, while the pull is stronger when you fall out of L locations.

Best,

Phillip Helbig said...

"Pelvic compromises for fitting a baby adversely affect anatomic angles for efficient running."

First, I doubt most people, male or female, could complete a marathon at all, much less in an acceptable time. Second, running so far in one stretch is probably not something our ancestors did, neither the males nor the females. So, one can't say, at least without further research, that females should be less well adapted than males.

Uncle Al said...

Organikers say, "six months in the lab will save you an afternoon in the library."

Phys. Med. Rehabil. Clin. N. Am. 16 691(2005)
doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2005.03.002pmr.theclinics.com

"Issues Unique to the Female Runner" Heidi Prather, DO*, Deyvani Hunt, MD Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery,Washington University School of Medicine, 4829 Parkview Place, St. Louis, MO 64110, USA

"One fundamental difference between men and women is the pelvis. Typically, a female pelvis is wider than the male pelvis, and its shape is the basis for the lower extremity alignment gender differences. An example of these differences is a proximal mechanical difference, such as increased femoral anteversion found in women, combined with a hypoplastic vastus medialis obliquus muscle and genu valgum. This sets the stage for external tibial torsion, pes planus, excessive forefoot pronation, and heel valgus angulation found in the distal extremity."

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

It's one thing to say that women, on the average, can't run as fast or as efficiently as men. It's another thing entirely to say none of them should run.

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Phillip,

"First, I doubt most people, male or female, could complete a marathon at all, much less in an acceptable time. Second, running so far in one stretch is probably not something our ancestors did, neither the males nor the females."

I think you're wrong on both counts. Re the second point, you might want to read this. Re the first point, look around a bit on the internet and you'll inevitably stumble over the saying that long distance running is 90% mental and 10% physical. I'm not sure what counts as 'acceptable' time in your book, but I would claim that anybody who is healthy and motivated enough can finish a marathon below 4 hours, plus age adjustment. Best,

B.

Phillip Helbig said...

"I would claim that anybody who is healthy and motivated enough can finish a marathon below 4 hours, plus age adjustment."

I agree, I just claim that most people are either not healthy enough or not motivated enough. :-)

Phillip Helbig said...

"Re the second point, you might want to read this."

Interesting. It seems the jury is still out, though, on whether persistence hunting actually played a large role in our development. In general: certainly there are adaptations to running, but I wonder whether there is an adaptation to running 42 kilometres.

Phillip Helbig said...

"It's one thing to say that women, on the average, can't run as fast or as efficiently as men. It's another thing entirely to say none of them should run."

Indeed. And even if there are health considerations, this has not led to a ban on men (or women, for that matter) boxing, so why should it lead to disallowing women from running a marathon or ski jumping?

JimV said...

There is another blogger who usually writes on social and political issues but sometimes writes about his cat and two dogs. The former are more important but I enjoy the latter more. It is the same with stories of your children on this blog. Thanks for the news about them.

Anthony Reynolds said...

Regarding the human adaptation to long distance running, and to running 42 km in particular:

I believe that (one of) the reason that the marathon distance is considered difficult is that its just a bit longer than the typical human can run without depleting the glycogen stores in their muscles. These usually end at around 20-22 miles, and the runner 'hits the wall.' So it's somewhat of a happy accident that Phidippides ran that distance from Marathon to Athens.

Of course, I'm just a neophyte who ran his first half marathon last weekend, and while I didn't hit the wall, I certainly slowed down after 10 miles.

Phillip Helbig said...

"So it's somewhat of a happy accident that Phidippides ran that distance from Marathon to Athens."

According to legend, he then dropped dead.

Actually, the legend is a) probably a mixture of two events and b) basically untrue.

„Der antike Marathon-Läufer ist ein rundum tragischer Held: Er hieß nicht nur nicht Pheidippides, er ist nicht nur nicht von Marathon nach Athen gelaufen, er ist dort nicht nur nicht tot zusammengebrochen, es hat ihn nicht einmal gegeben. Er ist eine Erfindung viel später Geborener.“ (Dieter Eckart, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung vom 24. Oktober 1987)

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Anthony,

"I believe that (one of) the reason that the marathon distance is considered difficult is that its just a bit longer than the typical human can run without depleting the glycogen stores in their muscles. These usually end at around 20-22 miles, and the runner 'hits the wall.'"

That's what I've been told and what I've read, yes. I have successfully convinced myself though that this is a myth meant to scare off people. Congrats on the half-marathon btw :) Best,

B.

Zephir said...

Four hours of free run... :-( I feel badly while just thinking about it...