29 March 2006

David Goodstein on politics in science

David Goodstein, vice-provost at Caltech, has an article about the decline of science entitled "The Big Crunch." Besides saying that science is no longer a booming industry, he says that we need to find a new political/social structure to manage science. Since I'm in my PhD program now, I guess I'll be involved in making that new system.

Goodstein has an entire collection of writing at his personal website.

27 March 2006

Sands of Time; Sharks back in playoff reace

I beat Prince of Persia: Sands of Time on Gamecube yesterday. I'll try to post a review on it soon.

My favorite NHL team is the San Jose Sharks. They came to San Jose as a new franchise when I was in middle school. I even wrote a middle school news article about Sharks' home rink -- the then-called San Jose Arena (now it's called the HP Pavilion). Well, the good news is that today the Sharks finally broke into the top 8 teams in the Western Conference. If they maintain their standing, they'll make the playoffs!

Dyson commencement speech: Global warming, misfortunes, and the uselessness of PhDs

Check out this thought-provoking commencement speech that Freeman Dyson (mathematician, theoretical physicist, and thinker) gave at the University of Michigan in 2005.

25 March 2006

Windows XP/Mac OS X dual boot?

Is this cool or what? Now you can install Windows XP on an Intel-based MAC. See this link for instructions.

22 March 2006

"Amateur" radio

I went to a ham radio club meeting today out of curiosity. At the end of the meeting, we watched a clip from the Jay Leno Show. Mr. Leno pitted two teenage text messagers (supposedly the fastest in the US) against two ham radio operators using Morse code (30-40 years of experience). The competition was to see who could send a message faster. A woman in the audience bet on the text messagers, but the Morse coders won. As Jay Leno said to the text messaging teens, "Sorry, you were beaten by 170-year-old technology."

I learned, on a more serious note, that ham radio (so-called "amateur" radio since individuals, not corporations, are the operators) has vital uses in remote areas and during disasters. In an emergency, cell phones and landlines are often jammed and the only reliable method of communication is through ham radio. Sometimes when several different emergency response teams work together (fire, police, ambulance, etc.), they solicit the help of ham radio operators to communicate between the different teams. The reason is that each team uses its own unique frequency so they need ham radio operators to set up a universal communication system.

Amateur radio operators have also campaigned against BPL (Broadband over Power Line). BPL is the idea that you can transmit broadband internet signals over power lines in RF (radio frequency). It seems like a great idea to bring broadband to rural areas, but the preliminary technology interfered with much of the RF spectrum including fire, police, and ham radio frequencies. The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) convinced the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) to ensure the protection of the RF frequency band in areas where BPL might be deployed.

03 March 2006

More on the LHC Olympics

Lubos Motl posted a followup entry about the LHC Olympics. I thought this was cool earlier because I really enjoy the interaction between theory and experiment in physics.

I also think it's cool because my classmates from college wrote a Mathematica notebook to analyze the black box data easily. What a nice solution.