Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This and That

  • The Nobel Foundation goes YouTube.
    Have you ever wanted to ask a Nobel Laureate a question? Now, here's your chance! Ask a Nobel Laureate is offering you a unique opportunity to communicate with some of the world´s most brilliant minds. The current participating Nobel Laureate is Albert Fert, Nobel Prize in Physics 2007 "for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance", which forms the basis of the memory storage system found in your computer.

    Albert Fert will answer a selection of your uploaded video questions [...] Upload your video question no later than March, 19, 2010.

  • Online Colleges has put together a list with "100 Amazing Videos for Teaching and Studying Physics," that might be worth having a look.

  • Definitely worth a look is this totally amazing music video to OK Go's song "This Too Shall Pass."

  • The Louisiana State University has two openings for faculty positions in loop quantum gravity. Details are here. [Thanks to Christine].


  1. Thank you for that on-line college list Bee. I haven't seen any of them but I'm glad such a list exists. Well done.

    However, I have some suggested improvements, to be nitpicky:

    49. Absolute Zero: This episode of NOVA gets chilly, with discussions of Absolute Zero and how to get there.

    And if you do get there be sure to tell The Third Law of Thermodynamics it's wrong.

    88. Loop Quantum Gravity: In this lecture by Carlo Rovelli you’ll learn more about this interesting and engaging theory devised by the speaker himself.

    And Abhay Ashtekar. And Lee Smolin.

    I have far from read all of them but those 2 stood out for me.

    I would also suggest:

    101. Verified Predictions of String Theory: The View from 2250, or Never

  2. Discovery that pituitary tumors expel lines of force is fashionably interdisciplinary. However, submission rules may exclude the blind, and that seems overly harsh. Perhaps criteria should be relaxed to include flip books and Labanotation.

    (Giant magnetoresistance is a hard drive's read head, not its storage or write modalities.)

    "Do opposite shoes vacuum free fall identically?"

  3. Bee or Christine,

    Is LSU hiring 2 loop quantum gravity people because the are creating some LQG center or something? I coulnd't tell from the link.

  4. Uncle Al, thanks for teaching me my new "word of the day": "Labanotation," for "Laban Movement Analysis" which is "a tool by dancers, athletes, physical and occupational therapists, it is one of the most widely used systems of human movement analysis"

    Great. But considering this is a Quantum Gravity website, can we see some views of yours to that end, as opposed to the macroscopic?

  5. Albert Fert, another French physicist and Nobel Prize laureate... Yeah! Yes we have so many physicists having it :), but so few biochemists :( - Why that?

    Dr. A. Fert is one of Southern France just like me :). His publication dealing with giant magnetoresistance is said to have had more than one thousand citations in other articles, unlike mine :(

    Well... Anyone can ask me for questions on U-tube anyway, I'll try to answer it as best as I can.


  6. - Dear Jérôme CHAUVET

    Please read this

    (Important Update)

    - Dear Joseph Smidt,

    I saw the announcement via Jorge Pullin (Ilqgs mailing list), where he wrote (March 4, 2010):

    >> Sorry for using this email list for this, but there are two faculty
    >> job openings at LSU in loop quantum gravity. These are tenure-track
    >> positions. Due to budget restrictions, the application deadline is
    >> relatively soon. Applications can only be accepted online at this
    >> website:

    I suppose the deadline was already met, since I cannot see the announcement in the page mentioned.


  7. There is no deadline on the application form, it says "open till filled."

  8. Apropos "This and That" - the German Bundesverfassungsgericht (the supreme court) has rejected a complaint against the LHC. I have only found this short news item in English - here is the German press release of the BVG. The decision is uncontestable.

    Cheers, Stefan

  9. Hi Bee,

    Thanks for the links! The "100 Amazing Videos for Teaching and Studying Physics" omits my favorite site. There are videos of seven Feynman lectures here:|||

    Cheers, Kris

  10. Not to steal OK GO's thunder, but the Bravery have a good rube video too

  11. Finally figured out how to write Neil Bates ♪

  12. You're right, Bee. Now one has to click in the "search posting" link at the side bar and just scroll down a little to find the announcement.


  13. At the commeter "pagesincolor:" I just deleted your two comments. What do I think of your idea? I think you are not able to read our comment rules. Best,


  14. Pardon me I don't see any comment rules. Maybe you could e-mail them to me at Or post them here so that dumbells like me can see them. Thanks.

  15. The comment rules are on the site with the blogpost, right above the "post a comment" link. For your convenience I will copy them here

    Comment Rules:

    - Please submit only comments that are related to the topic of the post. To do so, you will have to read it.

    - Further, please also read the existing comments in order to avoid redundancies.

    - If you want to introduce a topic different from the one that is posted, please consider starting a blog of your own instead.

    - Also, this is not an open 'ask-the-expert' forum. If you have a question that is not related to the post, please ask it in a forum that can accomodate random questions.

    -Do not bother to submit any kind of advertisement, we will delete it immediately.

    We hope you help us in maintaining a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere in our comment section.


  16. Now I have a question:

    Since I was replying to "This and That" where it was requested that Youtube videos be submitted so that a Nobel Laurette could possibly answer the question asked in the Youtube video and since the gist of my reply was that I did not have the technology to post a Youtube video so "here is my submission in writing", how is that posting something that is off topic?

  17. It might have escaped your attention but I'm not Albert Fert. Your two lengthy comments were nothing else but an elaboration on your theory of whatever and probably copy-and-pasted from elsewhere. I'm not even remotely interested in that. I'm not hosting such comments. Please advertise your theory elsewhere. Best,


  18. Dear Bee:

    Theorem: if you are able to have an interesting conversation with yourself on a topic it means as far as that topic goes, you are not ideologically committed to a position, that you are open to new ideas and that you are creative.

    What do you think? Of course, one problem is to define "interesting".


  19. Dear Christine,

    Indeed, the fact that Dr Albert Fert was awarded the Nobel Prize in place of the first author of the original article may be shocking... There are however some points I would like to lay here down as to explain why I find it fair anyway:

    (1) Even if not directly awarded the Prize, those related to Fert's work are irremediably given great carreer opportunies and treats thanks to this connection. I guess now no one dare say Dr Baibich is a crackpot, or say anything else rude about him.

    (2) The "reason why" claimed by the Nobel Prize committee as to explain why someone is awarded the Prize is, as far as I can think, more an anti-polemic statement rather than a deep reason why. The Nobel Prize crowns an entire career, which anyhow cannot be summarized in one paper. And being the successful head of a research team is something difficult to become anyway. I know research bosses seem to not do that much once they have given their recommendations, but the fact is, the whole system which allows you to discover something essential was installed by them before, and the last to come has it difficult to gauge how hard they worked to make the thing come together and efficiently run.

    (3) The Nobel Prize is an old stuff, which means it still regards scientists as lonesome cowboys in the desert of knowledge having found an oasis. We all know it has changed, but Alfred Nobel's didn't know it when he wrote his last will. I guess it should be awarded to the whole team... But we are still living in a world in which the glory of ONE single individual is worth dozens of forgotten ones.

    Why not creating another prize aimed at awarding teams? Would be nice, wouldn't it?


  20. @pagesincolor:

    Just a recommendation before you try anything with Dr Albert Fert: scientists literally hate people who don't take care of rules and recommendations. And just don't try to bother him with your theory; without knowing him personnally, I already know he will not care about it.

    Best wishes anyway,

  21. Dunno why, when I saw this headline in the NYT: "Strike Is Set After Talks Fail at British Airways", I thought, oh, Bee must be about to fly again.


  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. The Louisiana State University has two openings for faculty positions in loop quantum gravity.

    I've long felt for the sad employment situation for Ph.D.'s in Math and Science in America. How many applications will that job get, Bee, hmm?

    At Woit's blog I read something I couldn't believe by a poster, that there are only 8-9 tenure-track faculty positions open per year in America. That can't be right. I hope not. Was he talking about tenure-track positions at Ivy League schools only? Well, maybe then.

    Here I was worrying about my own sad field of Engineering, wherein besides the crazy cyclic hire-and-fire situation with a wavelength of three years, that American Engineers were also losing jobs to the Engineers of India, thanks to Indians per 30 years ago willing to work for one-fifth an American Engineer's pay. (Blame the Globals' accountants, not India, good for India). But the situation for Math & Phys Doctorates is far worse!and s

    "I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet." ... you know who...

    This is why I like Institutes for Advanced Study, because they can handle the overflow. America is a college degree mill ... we graduate more than the market can bear. C'est la vie.

  24. Steven,

    Peter might have been talking about high energy physics, and the number sounds plausible to me. Just look at the job postings. Best,


  25. Dear Arun,

    Yes, I was flying again. But not British Airways. Air Canada pissed me severely off by charging me for wanting to take back to Europe a bag that I brought free of charge. Stupidly enough, the weight of my bags wasn't an issue, it was the number (is what happens if you believe it's winter in Canada and bring warm clothes). The women actually said if I squeeze the stuff in one bag and take the rest as hand baggage it would be fine. I was, like, what the fuck. Excuse my language, but there's no other way to put that shit. Guess what's going to happen? People will buy the hugest bags that one can possibly find and then the ground personnel will start complaining, etc. I mean, really, I pay $1,500 for a flight and then they charge me $50 for a 10 pounds bag. What's the world coming to?

    Anyway, about your above theorem, shouldn't it depend somehow on the outcome of the discussion with yourself?





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