A six sided challenge

Hello all!

Recently an idea occured to me and I am looking for someone to work with me on this: the idea is to find the modes of a 6 sided (hexagonal) cavity. If anyone is aware of the solution (published somewheree) please let me know, I would be most grateful.
Otherwise, I want to use the results in a study. Would happily give first authorship of a paper using this result to a collaborator who works out the analytical results and works with me on using these.
I realise this information is sketchy, but I dont know if the idea will work, (hey its research so dont know all the answers). It came to me while going over some notes on Fabry Perot (FP) resonators, that we know the modes and FSR for the FP. How do we get the modes for a differently shaped cavity, analytically?

All thoughts and ideas welcome!


By artiagrawal Posted in General

Of the Jade Rabbit, Science and Beauty

As you would have read, the Chinese moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, landed on the moon in December 2013 and we are now receiving photographs from the rover. From previous posts on this blog you would know that I am keen on space exploration and doubly so on countries such as China, India, Brazil and others taking on such challenging missions.

Another reason why I really like the Jade Rabbit mission is the name itself. Call me a romantic, but I love the fact that the Jade Rabbit is named after the pet of the Chinese lunar goddess, Chang’e (or so I believe). There is something rather lovely about naming a space probe in honour of the goddess who according to myth lives on that very celestial body. Plus the words jade rabbit in themselves are evocative. They make me think of jade (gorgeous green) and rabbits. I immediately picture a piece of jade beautifully carved to represent a rabbit. Either way my mind sees beauty.

This connection of Science with beauty and aesthetics is not always to be found easily. One of my gripes is that many science departments/labs are often housed in hideous buildings. Either these are concrete piles, ugly and unappealing, or often modern and futuristic buildings all steel and chrome and very little soul. I haven’t often seen science buildings featuring offices and labs well lit with natural light (big windows where are you?), plenty of greenery and plants in and near the buildings, art on the walls or on the premises. To me Science is creative and beautiful, as artistic and aesthetic as an activity can be. So I wonder, would not scientists respond well to being surrounded by art, by beauty?

the machinery for (research) money

Yesterday crystallised a piece of knoweldge for me: universities now employ consultants (and regular employees) who help academics and researchers write grant applications. Some of these consultants, consult specifically for EU (FP7 and now Horizon2020) grant applications. They may be paid on a per grant basis or a regular salary.

The service they provide is help select the best ideas for grant applications (which they think) could be successful and help academics write and polish these documents. So these consultants who may also have a technical background are not active researchers or part of the proposed projects, their role is to maximise the chances of success in the cut throat research funding environment.

Having seen (and applied) for an EU grant or two, I dont think I would be alone in saying that:
– the calls for applications are long and dense, impenetrable and dont seem written for or by scientists
– the paperwork involved is massive and offputting
– success rates are low

These factors have led to universities employing consultants to somehow overcome the first two obstacles. I wonder if its just me or the opacity and unneccesary dificulty in applying (to the EU), is diverting funds from universities and research bodies to non-research and non-academic activities?
How did it come to this?

Looking for deep impact

In the last couple of months I have come across articles (describing studies) on scientific publishing, more specifically publishing scientific papers. It’s got me scratching my head a bit!

One study reported in Physics Review Letters (vol. 74, 208) discusses how papers that combine (and get the balance right) unusual work/findings/knowledge and more conventional understanding tend to have a higher impact.

When most of us write papers based on our results or proposed ideas, the concerns foremost in our minds often are on how best to present the material, engage the audience and highlight the novelty, the breakthrough, convince readers of the claims and so on. There is also the usual set of decisions on which journal to choose, the kind of paper (letter/full length article), include media files to supplement or not and so on.

I doubt that anyone would want a low impact/poor citations. Yet, the writing and paper planning process for me has never till now included a strategy of the sort intuited by the study I mention above. Would it be possible to adopt such a reasoning in my approach to planning and writing papers? Should I even try and can it be successful? Can it be applied to research grants as well?

So that’s genuinely surprised me and what you think and your experiences about this would be really interesting to know.

Getting back into the groove

As with most things, once you take a break getting back into the swing can take effort.

So here I am, it’s 2014 and I have just returned from a too short break over Christmas, looking to get started and stuck into the new academic session. My brain will probably be ready for some work, but a big part of me would prefer to continue the holiday!

So to ease myself into things I took the most enjoyable option I have: writing a little blogpost wishing you all a very happy new year. I wish you a fun and enjoyable return to work!