Monday, July 16, 2012


Lightning captured at 7,207 images per second from ZT Research on Vimeo.

A downward lightning negative ground flash captured at 7,207 images per second. A negative stepped leader emerges from the cloud and connects with the ground forming a return stroke.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Auroral on July 14

The night of July 14th, Auroral activity will be high. Depending on weather it should be visible low on the horizon everywhere down to Boston latitude. This is due to a significant event located on the sun --facing earth-- took place on July 12.
  Link to the map

Thursday, July 12, 2012

my long article on physics 13

The university where I work, publishes a journal for undergraduate students titled "Phyics 13". You can google it along with the university of waterloo to find their webpage.

They asked me to write an overview on the recent experiment on the Majorana Quasiparticle recently discovered in Condensed matter physics. Along the way to write it I realized this is much beter if I can glue together a more extensive review on the prediction, the particle physics and astrophysics attempts, as well as a good and simple explanation of its final discovery on a proximity superconducting nanowire of semiconductor. Previously in this blog I wrote about this important discovery.

My extensive review --compared to regular articles-- was published in the latest journal issue. Unfortunately you cannot see the latest issue on their webpage but with a negligible fee for registration to the physics department of the university you can buy a hard copy of it.

The article is now on the Spring 2012 issue on the Young Researcher Corner section, which is now of course a few pages long with many colorful picture! You can read all the previous issues on their website, though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Errors scientists may make

To an extent, I realized that some fields of science proceed only by consensus instead of scientific arguments. This is unfortunately true.

Consensus usually gets things wrong in science because whatever everyone may agree upon may turn out to be completely wrong.  There are many examples such as the ultraviolet catastrophe, or more recently black hole information paradox.  Things get even worse in research fields for which there are not much experiments available, e.g. quantum gravity. There are many versions of quantum gravity but usually any discovery using one version of the theory may generate strong reactions from people working on the other versions of the theory and most of the times the discussions between the scientists go out of any scientific measure. This sometimes makes a discovery not even be published, which is obviously unfair. Sometimes peers take an illegitimate step to engineer a wall in front of papers written in a version of quantum gravity for the purpose of drying the field out. Arguments in the peer reports turn instead of being "no-physical-evidence-for-the-discovery" to "correct-calculation-based-on-wrong-theory"! Even the peers may advise the authors to change their field and no longer burn themselves in the field.

Science is often presented as an objective pursuit, but the modern academia is unhealthy and cannot afford all novel ideas.

And this is only my thought.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Higgs, and me on a train

In canada we actually benefit from the free strong wifi inside a VIA train and now I am sitting on train and writing this short note.

Sean Carroll seems to be writing a new book on the Higgs boson at the End of the Universe: (a pre-existence review):


Public needs that specially that it is difficult to find an article with less journalistic flavour on Higgs these days.

P.S. Picture above: the three first theorists who predicted the Englert-Higgs-Brout particle, aka. Higgs particle, respectively from left to right. 

Friday, July 06, 2012

Quantum mechanics with taste of cabbage roll

Yesterday our institute hosted Helen Fay Dowker. She gave a talk at our traditional thursday lunch meetings and the title was something like the path integral interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Fay gave an introduction about Dirac's 1932 paper that the lagrangian approach to classical mechanics was probably more fundamental than the hamiltonian approach because the former is relativistically invariant whereas the latter is "essentially nonrelativistic." This is because in the definition of hamiltonian time is an exceptional dimension and the evolution occurs in that dimension. This breaks the equality between time and space that general relativity is based on.

In a path integral we sum over histories from which the physical world is described directly in terms of events in spacetime. The path integral approach, however,has been championed in more recent times by Jim Hartle in a probabilistic nature and by Raphael Sorkin in non-probabilistic nature.

It was almost half past since I put the last piece of the cabbage rolls in my mouth that Tony Leggett asked whether Sorkin's approach with its zero measure can potentially give rise to Yang's experiment... . I remembered a few years ago when I was at the Perimeter Institute in a talk Raphael gave about his causal set I asked this question in a very shaky way with lots of fears and he gave answers but the end of the story as far as I remember was that he didn't know, but he has thought about that.

This path integral talk would have been tasted better with noodles, of course!

And that is my memo.