Thursday, March 31, 2005
There is a simple way to find out whether you really are a Blue Leaf: You will know if you catch yourself trying to understand as much as possible from the blackboards and math in the special effects of Numb3rs and say "Damn, if only they showed that for a few more seconds!". Now, if you start pausing to notice all the math and take screencaptures, then you are worthy of joining the Blue Leaf Society at www.thefacebook.com. Here is the intro:
Other social networks (trees) are connected together in a vast forest. Branches in this social network lead to other trees and to other leaves. In this vast forest, pink and blue leaves exist in a 1-1 ratio.
The Graduate Engineering Tree (GET) stands alone and is not simply connected to the vast forest. The majority of the leaves are blue. Attempts to traverse social branches lead invariably back to the GET - and to more blue leaves.
1. You must be an Engineering grad student
2. You must be in a field of study where pink leaves outnumber blue leaves 10-to-1
3. You must not have been on a date for at leat 1 year
4. You must spend more hours alone in a lab/doing homework, than socializing with friends
First Tenet of Tree Theory:
You can never escape the tree
- Many have tried an many will follow... but the simple fact remains that the binding energy of the tree will always prevent you from leaving. Those who have studied transport mechanisms away from the GET have been rewarded with having their funding cut.
The paper with the detailed principles of Tree Theory will be submitted for publication soon.
Piece of cake.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
- Most imporant, there is an article explaining how the Dec 26 earthquake in Sumatra has increased the surface tension in this area and a second large earthquake should be expected soon. Low and behold, on March 28th (just 10 days later!) a 8.7 richter quake stroke again, with only a "few" hundrend of people dying and a small tsunami generated. That's what I call succesful prediction.
- High resolution stereoscopic images of Mars were released, which proves that as early as 2 million years ago Mars was full of Ice, seas and lava. The pictures look amazing.
- For the first time ever this guy managed to measure current as single electrons! Until now current was measured indirectly by measuring the voltage across a wire, and then divide with its resistance to get he current according to Ohm's law. This guy seperated small islands of wire by tiny distances so that individual electrons one by one quantum mechanically tunnel from one island to the next. He managed to measure currents down to 5 femto amperes. Woa...
3. The Apprentice
I used to like Lost a lot, but I just read that they are planning to keep the show running for 6 years, which destroyed all my feelings for it. The reason is that with all the weird and unexplained things that happen in the show I was expecting an reasonable explanation at the end of the first season. However it seems that there will be no grand truth and things will just keep happening without apparent cause.
CSI:Miami is a great spinoff of the original CSI series, and they have grasped the spirit and lifestyle of Miami perfectly. Caruso is by far the best actor in all of CSI series.
The Apprentice is in season 3 now, and I like it because it is very stable on the quality of entertainment they offer. You get what you expect for, without pits and valleys in perfomances. The Donald is always fun to watch, plus the show raised my interest in NYC that later became my favorite city in the world.
I have explained my surprise for Numb3rs in other posts. I love the relationship between the two brothers, mutual and respectful, not jealous and competitive. This show has a lot of potential and if they become more careful in the writing and filming of the non-math parts it can become super hit.
CSI:NY is by far my favorite show for this year. It is frighteningly good. Not only have they captured the spirit of NYC (there are more crimes from individuals as opposed to drug dealers and banks in CSI:Miami), not only are the actors performing flawlessly (they do have Gary Sinize after all), not only are the production standards reaching the ceiling for a tv show, but most importantly they have this personal touch in the stories (the Romeo+Juliet case; the cop's son involved in the murder; etc) that just blows me off.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
- A lot of mathematicians have excellent numerical memory that allows us to recognize numbers when they are repeated or arranged in patterns.
- Why don’t you do that and I’ll do the dishes, how’s that?
Hehe this show gets more and more interesting. Now the young prof is trying to hit on the hot grad student he's supervising. OK you may believe that there are no hot grad students at Caltech, but people also believe in astrology.
CBS airs this new show every friday night, where there are 2 brothers, one is an FBI agent and the other a young applied math professor in Caltech that is using math to solve crimes. Charlie is certainly one of the most unique show characters ever: He is thesis is on Supergravity theory and black holes (yes!) he has a garage full of blackboards (yes!), he is supervising the thesis of an undergrad girl(yes!) and he doesn't want to be interrupted when he derives.
When it the first 10 minutes of the show Feynman and Galois are mentioned, that can only be a sign of original script writing. The pilot was almost flawless, with math, parabolic trajectories of water from sprinklers and logic blending excellently with criminal hunting that made so much sense. They still need to work on the action part of the stories, but that will come with time. In episode 2 the blending wasn't so succesful since they only used the notion of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and not the actual math behind, but the idea was original indeed.
Let's see how far they can go.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Anyway I had to talk about the Ellipse today. The ellipse is a timeline of events, drawn on a 4'x6' board in on eof our walls in the house. The idea is to divide the Ellipse into 12 pieces of equal length representing the 12 months, and then put info and photos on significant events that took place throughout this time period.
Now, drawing the ellipse was no problem. I measured the horizontal and vertical dimensions (long and short axis of ellipse) and that is enough to define the foci distance and the eccentricity. Then I centered the 2 foci on the axis of the foamboard, and used a phonecord that Andrew was keeping its edges on the foci and I was drawing with a pencil. I've never constructed an ellipse before like that, and it was quite a fun.
Yet the tough part was yet to come: we had to divide the Ellipse into 12 portions of equal length. Now, it is fairly obvious that in a circle the angles of these points with respect to the center of the circle will be 0, 30, 60 and 90 degrees say (top corner quarter only). But how about an ellipse? I wrote down the path integral along the length and in turns out although it is very easy to calculate the surface area of an ellipse (πab), the circumference has no analytic expression and involves a thing called elliptical integrals! And in our case I had to solve an equation involving an elliptic integral where the unknown variable (the angle up to which to integrate) was located in the upper limit of the integral...
So 3 phd students sat down and pondered for about 15 minutes on how to calculate that (OK, we can do it in Matlab but ain't fun) and we tried all kinds of stuff. Although it's impossible to calculate the circumference of the Ellipse, maybe we could get an analytic formula for the respective angles that define pieces of equal length. At the end there seemed to be no way to do that but just then the real engineer inside Andrew's body spoke: using the same phonecord , measure the length of a quarter of the Ellipse (already drawn on the wall). The length will be 1 in phonecord units. Then fold the phonecord twice, such that there are 3 portions of equal length one of top of eachother. You can actually do that with big accuracy. Then we had a portion of phonecord of length 1/3, exactly what we needed! Then we simply placed the phonecord along the Ellipse and marked the points 2 times for that quarter. Then getting the symmetric points with respect to the axis and the center of the Ellipse was trivial work, yielding all 12 points on the Ellipse. Now this is good engineering my friends. The Ellipse looks flawless on the wall as we speak.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
- Visit north Manhattan (uptown) including Harlem
- Take a helicopter ride
- Visit the Gugenhein Museum
- Visit the Moma (Museum of Modern Art)
- Visit the Natural History Museum
- Go to a broadway show
- Walk Brooklyn Bridge and get he view from the other side
- Visit Brooklyn
- Visit Astoria
- Discover more restaurants in the Broadway Street - NYU area
See you there!
This is how Brookhaven looked this morning. It had been snowing all night, with temperatures constantly below 0C. So nice.
Quite interesting stuff happened today, although we didn't get the results we want. First a computer guy was sent to install a new hub, but he disconnected ours to do that and the whole system crashed, requiring about 3 hours to get it back up and running. Then, we more or less repeated yesterday's procedure, but again we didn't get the expected results. So it turned out after some debugging that one of the critical pieces of the equipment may not be designed correctly (not a design flaw, just bad planning). Tomorrow we will know more about it but if this is right , it will take a few weeks before the item is redesigned and constructed again correctly.
Tomorrow is our last day. We will be back to LAX at 8:30pm or so. Andrew can you pick me up?
Why did this happened? Usually they transport the bones intact from the dig site to the facility. But in that specific case the site was remote, and only helicopter could access it. The specific bone was so big that it couldn't fit inside, so they had to break it in half. And when broken, the tissues inside revealed themselves.
Maybe that also means that other bones in the museums and labs around the world have such preserved tissues inside them, yet usually the policy is not to alter their shape at all, something that might change after this discovery.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Right now it is snowing like crazy. I say it's a snowstorm but Patrick says it's just ok. Tomorrow morning is going to be so beautiful. The temp now is 1C. Brrrrr...
On the experimental portion of the trip, all 3 components now work fine but we weren't able to get what we were supposed to get from the first 2, and the problem now is some poor alignment procedure. When I asked them is they had similar problems in their previous experiment (quite identical to ours up to a point) Vitaly said that it took them 2 years to get their final results
Can we do it in 2 days?
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Monday, March 21, 2005
We drove around Brookhaven today in a 10mi radius, and there is absolutely nothing to do. We keep having with Patrick these Brookhaven jokes now: It is the anti-particle of New York, 8th wonder of the world, why do they have fridges, home sweet home when we back into the house, even the couch is so uncomfortable so that you only work and never lie down etc.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
The Empire State Building stands high among the clouds as down here in the streets a flying bird seems to defy traffic.
A great place in lower Manhattan, the City hall square. Huge towers surround the squares, then the leafless trees add creepiness and loneliness, while the light posts have real fire burning inside them.
Another dedicated Manhattan day. I didn't expect it to be nice, but the City surprised me again. Again we parked in Queens and got the R-Line to Manhattan. NYC showed me a new face: I've never seen it before with a bad weather, it was raining and the wind was blowing, and it just felt so amazing. It is like a completely different place. You may not be able to walk freely but you appreciate a cup of hot chocolate, and you get into the stores and it's so crowded and alive and busy, unlike dull LA. Then we headed to the corner of Washington square and met with Michelle and AJ and had lunch in restaurant. So nice and original in design and feeling. AJ is a bright guy and we had an interesting conversation, comparing thoughtfully NYC to LA.
Then we split and we headed along Broadway - my god, what an incredible street! Reminded me of Oxford Street in London, but the people are so nice and active and hot (oh yeah!). Then we enter a starbucks for a pit stop and we were waiting in the line I met these cool people from LA who had come to perform as a high school in Carnegie Hall. We had such a fun discussion.
The part of Broadway near Washington square (where NYU lies) is becoming quickly my favorite part of the City. Young & old dynamic people, all nationalities of the world, shops one after the other, (Little) Italy and China(town) closeby, lots and lots of restaurants and bars and coffee houses. The perfect place for people of our age.
Then we continued walking, and essentially we did the rest of the trip we left over yesterday: from midtown Manhattan (1st street) down to the bay in Battery Park. We went through Ground Zero (the WTC site) and it would be unimportant if I hadn't talked to these girls from Missouri who were looking for the Trinity Church. It turned out one of them had greek parents. That was unexpected.
We walked around the bays, Wall Street, and near Brooklyn Bridge and then headed back. Canal street is very interesting: one moment you are walking in Chinatown with all the chinese stores and signs and stuff, and suddenly one block later you are in Little Italy, packed with narrow Mediterranean style Italian restaurants and people haven't seen such a drastic transition in my life. SO fast. I chatted with the "gatekeeper" in one of the buildings in financial district, telling me that this building had the very first oil reserves of the Unites States, the headquarters of Rockefeller himself.
back to sleep now. We have a long and important day tomorrow.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Here's a nice view from the inside of the museum. I only need to visit the Louvre to complete my visits to all major art museums of the world: The British Museum (London), The Louvre (Paris), Prado (Madrid) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). Again the greek and generally the ancients sections were most impressive. I also loved the fact they had reconstructed whole rooms from European Castles and houses - the rich ones. It was absolutely magnificent. My next plan is to visit France and stay in one of the original castles, with the high ceilings and thick walls and everything. I think medieval times become gradually my favorite age of human history.
The pieces of modern art were also pretty cool, I even found Pollock's work who was drawing essentially fractal paintings. The paintings were ok (Prado is best in this aspect) but there so many little items that are nice.
Still the British Museum ranks #1 overall, although the others have excellent individual items.
New York is such an amazing city. I've already spent several days there, and I feel like I've seen nothing yet. Should I come and live here for a few months?
First we drove under the freeway and under the subway tracks (cool!) to reach the subway station which we used to get to Manhattan. Then we walked along the Central Park to reach the beautiful Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent about 4 hours there, and then walked all the way from 80th street down to 1st street (that's about 100 blocks).
Central Park looks so different and original now than in the summer. No leafs on the trees, and as it was getting dark I had the weirdest feeling. The we discovered the skating arena and watching these people skate while playing music and with the towers in the background and the moody central park was simply p-e-r-f-e-c-t. The picture is also great since the skaters are fuzzy while the buildings and background are static - awesome effect.
Times Square was as always bright and beautiful. I also tend to like now the places close to Washington Square, many restaurants and coffee places. I finally ate for the first time the infamous New York Pizza (yummy).
I am still amazed how live city New York is. It's definitely a picture of its people and their lives: young and cool and adventurous, businessmen, limos and taxis, talking to cell phones and listening to iPods, having fun, enjoying walks on the streets, shouting to eachother across the street, honking, packed restaurants with personality (not chains!), grabbing pizza on the go to clubs, and all these different cultures blend so naturally together. I promised myself never to eat at the same place twice in NYC, and I think it will be easy to keep that promise.
Friday, March 18, 2005
In the lab we continued conditioning the gun (=the experiment will go one day later) which means that we have to wait till Monday to (maybe) get our first results. But it seems that will be done soon.
Later in the night I visited Manhattan by car. I now have a favorite route that I think is a great "introduction" to Manhattan. From I495 (which is what you use when coming from JFK) take the last exit before the Midtown tunnel (it is clearly marked). Then head over to Queensborough Bridge, which is great because it is a high free, no tolls, and you get a great view of the NYC skyline. On top of that, Queensborough Bridge sends you directly to the heart of Manhattan (in the edge of central park). Circle central park and then turn left on the 7th Avenue, which leads directly to Times Square. It is so impressive by night, all the lights and the people and the ads and th cars and the noise and the cabs and everything else in unison combining to give and awesome feeling. Then after times square drive down Broadway or 5th Avenue. People on the streets, midnight events, traffic, voices, honks: a LIVING part of the world!
Then drive down the minor streets, see all the small stores and restaurants and tiny places that seem soooo nice with personality (something that LA lacks of). Eventually you hit Vicente, where you make a left and head over Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge leads you to I278, which goes parallel to the skyline opposite of it and offers astonishing views (I nearly hit my car twice during these couple of miles) and finally leads back to I495.
Tomorrow is Saturday and it's a dedicated Manhattan day.
Although I agreed with the mistakes I said this is what makes movies more interesting and in another case we wouldn't have any image of science at all! The principles on which these facts in the movies are based are 100% viable, but they extend them in a wrong way. Personally, I prefer the principles to be ok even though what gets out is not entirely accurate rather than not have any publicity at all (because if the explosions are not so cool no one will watch the movie). This is just a trigger to people's minds; if they are interested they will find their own way to clarify and investigate more later.
"Prepare to fast forward!"
"Preparing to fast forward..."
During the deep sleep is when the brain and the organs "shut down" to get rest. In fact, not all organs shut down at once but there is a sequence: 1st this organ, 2nd that organ, etc. The last organ to shut down is the heart, after about 5 hours of total sleep. That means if you sleep lees than that you are not resting your heart for that day.
The most interesting part though has to do with rem sleep. This is the stage at which memory is written in the brain - all the thoughts, the inputs, the stimuli are recorded during rem sleep so that you can remember tomorrow and in the future. This is a stage at which the brain is not is low power mode: it is quite active to store all these information.
This is the best time to wake up!
If you wake up during deep sleep you will feel tired, not enthusiastic and bored. However if you wake up during rem sleep, you like feel almost perfect as if you weren't sleeping, even if you had less total sleep!
For example it is better to sleep 4.5h and wake up during rem sleep rather that keep sleeping for 1 more hour and then wake up during deep sleep. This absolutely works with me because sometimes I sleep a lot and I still feel tired (obviously I woke up during deep sleep) and other times I sleep 4-5 hours but yet I wake up and feel perfect (I woke up during rem sleep). My previous theory was that if you sleep short enough then your brain does not fully enter deep sleep and so if you wake up again soon enough you will feel ok because it is as if you never slept. However I must admit this new evidence is better:-)
They also note that the duration of rem sleeps varies during the night. The first one is the shortest, and the last one is the longest. This also explains why afternoon naps (said to compensate for lack of night sleep) can never replace night sleep: there is not enough time to get into rem sleep and record new info in your brain; you may get some rest but you will lose the memory recording process.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I remember going with Andrew to this place up Vermont and asking for a shake (Do you have shakes?) and the lady was looking at me in a weird way because (I thought) she didn't understand what I was saying to her. My greek accent is terrible. At the end I showed her in the menu what did I need.
Today the same thing happened again. I ask "Do you have shakes?" and the lady looks at me in a weird way and again I thought it didn't sound perfectly because of my greek accent. But in fact, as Katsouleas pointed out right away, the girl heard "Do you have sex?" - they sound so similar! And I was expecting an answer back...
We had a great discussion then on science and evolution and religion and society and all kinds of interesting stuff. I really enjoyed it. Both Katsouleas and Patrick can create great discussions and I have a long way to reach their level - if ever. We discussed from my remark that we are to god what dogs are to us humans ( in an evolution - related way), to why the electron charge has the exact value it has and therefore the universe is stable (it's like winning the lottery - someone has to win!) and why people don't assimilate culturally in the US in the same way they do in Europe.
It is interesting to compare how the people here work as compared to the people in the slac experiment at Stanford. In slac there are exactly two people that know everything that is going on, and then the rest of them sort of help to get the work done. Here in BNL there is a very specific delegation of responsibilities: there is one person working on one item at a time. You have a question regarding that item, you go to that guy.
Also people here don't care about all he results; they just keep the ones that are good. In slac everything is recorded and later they run correlations and analysis on everything.
Katsouleas is leaving tomorrow in a flight where he is going to surprise his dad who is coming from Greece and will be on the flight. Vitaly is leaving too, so we have a lot of work to do ourselves.
Katsouleas is also sleeping with us in the next room but he came early before us and he also sleeps early so we haven't talked to him yet. We were supposed to go to apartment 24, but we made a wrong turn towards house 24 which was a cottage in the middle of nowhere. When we started driving onto a 5ft wide road covered with pure snow and a huge forest we realized that wasn't the place :-)
Anyways tomorrow we get to work with the Russians. Now I will carefully place all my research books and notes wide open on the living room table so that Katsouleas will see them tomorrow morning when he gets up:-)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Katsouleas and Patrick are coming together to conduct this experiment at last. I like my involvement because I am doing theory, simulations and now the actual experiment. It's a little bit of everything and that's good.
I'll be arriving there at 10pm. God help us all.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Why should I come to the office anymore?
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Monday, March 07, 2005
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
- Apple (41)
- Art (2)
- Astronomy (2)
- Books (1)
- Conferences (35)
- cool (30)
- Explanations (1)
- Favorites (39)
- Flight Blogs (8)
- food (4)
- geeky (71)
- Greece (19)
- greeks (20)
- hdr (6)
- hdr london (1)
- internet (2)
- iPhone (3)
- kids (2)
- Las Vegas (11)
- life (143)
- London (22)
- Los Angeles (40)
- Lost (37)
- matlab (1)
- Maui (5)
- Miami and The Bahamas (11)
- Movies (109)
- nature (1)
- New York (39)
- New York Guide (10)
- phd (14)
- Photography (2)
- Physics (1)
- Plasma Road Trip (10)
- Podcast (6)
- science (39)
- shows (17)
- TED (4)
- trips (102)
- United Kingdom (5)
- USA (7)
- usc (3)
- Vista (9)
- weather (1)
- wedding (3)
- ΕΜΠ (1)