Last day of semester

Today was the last day of lectures in the first semester, hurrah. There’s something very satisfying about emptying out the teaching briefcase and filing the notes and overheads back on the bookcase until next year. (Yes, we have computers and data projectors in Waterford, but I still use overheads quite a bit). The students now have a study week followed by exams but for lecturers, it’s an ideal time to get back to research.

I’m frequently asked if WIT is a let down after Harvard, but I must say I enjoyed this semester no end. I taught maths (to 1st science), physics (to 1st engineering) and my ‘concepts in cosmology’ course to our physics students. I’m writing a book based on the latter so it was fun summarizing a chapter each week and presenting it in class as bullet points. After each lecture, I found myself rushing back to the office to rewrite a paragraph or re-jig an explanation – very satisfying!

Motivated students

Then there was the neutrino experiment; a superb opportunity for public lectures on relativity. Like almost all physicists, I expect this result is an anomaly because neutrinos are known to have a finite rest mass. I really enjoy explaining this in outreach lectures so long may the anomaly survive! The Trinity lecture was very satisfying, we got a great crowd including some very eminent physicists.

Now I have four weeks to work quietly on the book, uninterrupted by classes – what a job!

Update

Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate in the media about a possible sighting of the Higgs boson. I haven’t heard anything in physics circles so I’m betting it’s a false alarm based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of next week’s roundup meeting at CERN (see here for more on the rumours). Still, I’ll be keeping an eye on the news on Tuesday!

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Last day of semester

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Last day of semester

  2. John

    Cormac said:
    “so long may the anomaly survive”

    I’m glad you admit its just an anomaly. Good luck with your book Dr. O’Raifeartaigh, and best wishes for the christmas season!

    John.
    [The answer lies in the old Irish Sod] :)

  3. cormac

    It’s not a question of ‘admitting’ anything. Almost all physicists are convinced the neutrino result must be an anomaly, simply because they have a non-zero rest mass

    • James

      Nobody has measured the (rest) mass of a neutrino. The claim that they have a non-zero mass follows from theoretical ideas. In order to keep the books in order with solar neutrinos, it seems that they must be able to convert from one type of neutrino to another (or “oscillate”). With currently accepted theory this requires a non-zero (real) mass, however if they are tachyons then this theoretical reasoning may not even apply (beyond my expertise…).

  4. NEW PHYSICS BEYOND NEWTON AND EINSTEIN IS THE NEED OF TODAY AND THEN WE WILL REVISE QUANTUM PHYSICS BEYOND DIRAC AND OTHERS. TAKE HELP FROM MISJUDGEMENTS BY NEWTON WRITTEN BY DURGADAS DATTA. AND BALLOON INSAIDE BALLOON THEORY.

  5. the existence of rest mass to neutrinos lead us to the anomalies to str;because there are experiments descovering speed faster than the speed of light. but the most fantastics would be the confirmation of the experiment about violation oF CP to CHARM QUAKS OR CHARM MESON,where the decayment demonstrate the prevalence of particles over antiparticles-its a universe chiral model-but think that the antimater doesn’t exist in the natures,just in laboratoty.perhaps encounter violation for PT and partial breaks of the lorentz’s
    invariance,the non conseravation of angular momentum and others reseach a new physics

    congratulation ,
    mery christimas
    happy new years

  6. cormac

    Hi Carlmott. Actuually, we do find antimatter in nature, just not ver much.There are antiparticles in cosmic rays, and also in bananas!
    Let’s see what comes out of the Fermilab and Super-K results. If the effect is confirmed, my bet is tha it’s something to do with particle decay…

    • James

      Where do you get your bananas from – Fukushima? I’d take them back. What kind of antimatter do you have in your bananas?

  7. cormac.i think in antimateras a complete atoms,what hangst and bowe do is artifucialy.
    would he more interesting for physic do not existence of antimater the asymmetry of quark charm call our attention.

  8. the proper superstrings speaks to respect of tachyonic fields.then the existence of tchyons apear me correct.the propations of the speed of light in curved spacetime also permit us seeks that apeed of light isbroken,so as the invariance of lorentz,once extended to violation of cpt

  9. james.i believe that the antimater-is not antiparticles(that are generated by asymmetry of matter and space and time.then the relativistic energy iin it symetry is compensated by existence of antiparticles as fluxes of energy contained in the quantic vacuum.the antiparticles are relaticvistic symmetry-are holes of energy-
    that is equivalent at the incresement of mass through of velocity-are relativistic efects of time dilatation and contraction of space or deformations of the curvatures of spacetime

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  11. cormac

    James: apparently there are positrons in bananas, can’t remember where I read this!

  12. please informations about cumrum vafa in his visit to dublin?

    WHAT YOU THINK TO RESPECT OF THE VIOLATION OF THE OPERATOR CP TO THE QUARK CHARM OR
    CHARM MESON OBSERVED IN THE CERN?
    I THINK THAT THESE ASYMETRIES COULD TO BE OBSERVED OR CALCULED IN THE 4-DIMENSIONAL
    WHERE APPEAR NON SMOOTH DIFERENTIABLE STRUCTURES,THAT IS VINCULATED TO THE CONECTION OF TIME IN THE SPACE GEOMETRIC,DEFORMING ITS METRICS,THROUFG OF DIFERENTIABLE AND NONDIFERENTIABLE STRUCTURES,THAT IS INDUCED METRICS THAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE “MOTION”.THEN THE SPACETIME APPEAR AS DERIVED OF THE ASYMETRY BETWEEN THE LEFT_RIGHT HANDED ROTATIONAL SYSTEMS THAT IF EXCHANGE ALTERING PARITY AND REVERSAL TIME PT,IMPLICITY IN THE METRICS OF CURVATURES OF SPACETIMES.THE BROKEN INVARIANCE TO THE LEFT-RIGHT HANDED SPINORS LEAD US TO NONLINEAR QUATERNIONIC STRUCTURES -WITH NONCOMMUTATIVE GROUPS-AND THE EXOTICS STRUCTURES IN THE 4-DIMENSIONAL MANIFOLDS WITH DEFORMATIONS OF THE SPACE BY THE TIME,GENERATING THE
    MULTIPLES CURVATURES OF SPACETIME.THEN THE SPACE AND TIME ARE VARIABLES WITH THE MOTION IN A SEMI RIEMANNIAN OR RIEMANNIAN VARIETY,WHERE THE TIME AND SPACE ARE VARIABLES IN THE SAME RATE.BUT THE VARIATIONS IN THE SPACETIMES ARENOT LINEAR.

  13. carlmott5520

    the positrons has a lifetime very brief.i don t believe what the positrons encounted in the banana can oto produce damages

  14. James

    Some seasonal thoughts.

    The process of osmosis is of crucial importance to all living creatures. You may object that it doesn’t apply to viruses, but then I would argue that they are not alive and anyway even if they were they depend upon other living organisms for their survival and those organisms do depend on osmosis. Whatever, it seems to be important.

    Of course, this is just a simple example of the second law of thermodynamics. At any particular time any large scale system is in some microscopic state (either classical or quantum) and there are many other microscopic states it could be in and we wouldn’t know the difference. The number of these equivalent microscopic states is essentially the entropy of the system – as I’m sure you know it is defined as the log of that number, just to make it additive.

    Now, osmosis requires a semi-permeable barrier, or membrane, to place some bias on the statistical equilibrium, and I was recently motivated by the behaviour of people of faith during the Christmas period to muse upon the application of such ideas to the vexed question of zombies. After all, we have two large physical systems in direct contact: the worldly realm, and the celestial/infernal.

    Between these two realms is a (rather capriciously) selective membrane. Most of the people deeply sensitive to this state of affairs seem to disagree about the precise dynamical laws that apply to the post-corporeal, but it is here that thermodynamics comes into the ascendant as it is not concerned with such details.

  15. I just read your article in Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sciencetoday/2011/1229/1224309589540.html and I am disappointed because a while back you commented in my blog about General Relativity and GPS and I did some research and traced the rumor that GPS will not work without GR to physicists Neil Ashby. His claim is based on theoretical computations and his classified work decades ago when GPS was being developed and cannot verified.

    I found other sources from engineers who worked in the development of GPS who make the opposite case and they don’t see a need to include a general relativistic correction to GPS.

    Unless you have evidence of the actual source code used in GPS which includes a legitimate general relativistic correction (not just a generic correction named after Einstein) then I think your assertion would be credible, otherwise, it sounds to me, with apologies, that you are repeating a physics propaganda. Do you have verifiable solid evidence that GPS fails without GR?

    This is the post with my comment with related items:

    http://densytics.com/2010/10/11/if-newton-were-to-come-back-to-earth/

    • i think that te sinchronizations of clocksin dffeents curvatures generaes sundries distortions in the clocks and
      rules of measurations.the GTR APPOINT TO DIVERGENTS WTH THEEVOLUTIONS TO DIFFERENTS CURVTURES OF SPACETIME,OCCURING THE DEFORMATIONS OF SPACETIME,THAT DOES THE SPEED OF LIGHT APPEAR AS CONSTANT AND THE TIME AND SPACE WITH VALUES MUCH DIFFERENTS.THEN THE INERTIAL AND THE GRAVITATIONAL FIELDS IS NOT TOTALLY EQUIVALENTS.THEN THE GRAD OF THIS FIELDS IMPLIES THE VARIATIONS OF SPACETIME( TIME DILATATION AND THE SPACECONTACTION BEING THE PARITY AND THE REVERSAL TIME CONJUGATED ARE TO BE VIOLATED.
      THEN THE gps ARE APPROXIMATIONS OF THE NONLINEAR EQUATIONS OF EINSTEIN TO THE METRICS
      TENSOR AND STRESS TENSOR ARE NONSYMETRICS.THEN THE DEFORMATIONS ARE EQUIVALENT TO THE ROTATIONAL OF THE GRVITATIONAL FIELDS.

      • CARL5520: I am not disputing Relativity. I am just trying to understand for myself if there is any scientific evidence showing that GPS source code running the satellite clocks indeed includes “relativistic corrections”.

      • i THINK THAT THE TIME DILATATION AND THE CONTRACTION OF SPACE ARE DUE THE EXISTENCE OF MECHANISMS OF SYMETRY BREAKDOWN IN THE UNIVERSE,-THAT DOES THE SPEED OF LIGHT APPEAR AS CONSTANT AND LIMIT-WITH SURELY LINKED TO THE VIOLATION OF CP,AND IN THE INTERACTIONS STRONGS,THE VIOLATION OF PT.THEN THE CONECTION OF SPACE AND TIME TO SPACETIME CONTINUUM IN THE 4-DIMENSIONAL UNIVERSE APPEAR AS THE TIME HAVING “TWO DIMENSIONS” THAT DOES THE JUNCTION OF SPACE AND TIME WITH METRICS OF DIFFERENTS VARIABLE HYPERBOLICS CURVATURES TO NONCOMMUTATIVE TPOLOGAL GEOMETRY.IT IS THE THERE ARE SMOOTH STRUCTURES NOT TOTALLY SYMPLES TO THE EINSTENNIAN SPACETIME IN THE 4-DIMENSIONAL VARIETY..THE SPLIT-OCTONIONIC ALGEBRA IS THE GEOMETRICS GROUP OF THAT SPACETIME

  16. ddutt.

    The atomic clocks on satellites are exposed to a different gravitoetherton soup and entropical energy gradient is different causing an anomaly in time with ground based labs and that is being corrected by proper adjustments. Relativity not required to explain this and glorify Einstein.