Random thoughts on beauty

This post is a bit random, slightly stream of consciousness…and about beauty!

We can all define in some nebulous way the concept of beauty and what it means to each of us. Infact if you close your eyes for a second and imagine an idea/image/thought the word “beauty” brings immediately to you: that association is what you probably use unconsciously when thinking of something as beautiful.

This was triggered by a discussion on beauty and aesthetics with some friends…and I could not resist blogging about it.

To me beauty is usually associated with warmth and something that draws me in. I like warm colours, warm people, hot food and such like. Yet all else pales in comparison (of beauty) when I think of space.

Space: unimaginably vast and unmapped, cold (average temperatures are pretty low even though stars and such like are not), almsot ageless compared to us, and unconcerned with us.. I cant imagine a more indifferent, unfeeling and cruel mistress than space. Perhaps we only resist its pull because we cannot see space? Else would we not go mad in seeing it and being unable to lose our selves in that infinity?

“And I, infinitesima­l being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.”
― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

What calls to you in this way?


The longitude prize

Some of you may have read my recent blogpost “a non-linear response” on how competitions and prizes can often bring out the best in people and infact create more Intellectual Property than you would get by paying the prize money as salary!

Now that time honoured tradition of prizes is back again in very exciting fashion: the Longitude Prize worth £10million (wouldn’t you love to win that) will soon announce the 6 biggest challenges of our era, the British public will pick one as “the” challenge. With 5 years to solve the chosen problem, everyone has a fair shot.

I can’t decide if my excitement is more due to the Prize itself (and its rich history) or the fact that the public in some small way can participate in setting the challenge.

Either way I am waiting to find out what the ultimate challenge will be. Maybe a similarly collaborative effort will win it?

What is sacrosanct?

In a recent article on Tsallis entropy in the latest edition of Physics World, I found the discussion rather diverting.
Tsallis entropy in some ways modifies the Boltzmann-Gibbs entropy, because, as Tsallis claims, for correlated systems (where possible microstates may be correlated) the entropy law needs a slightly different nature.

According to Tsallis, entropy is an extensive property (dependent on the dimension of the system in a way) as opposed to intensive property such as temperature (which is independent of the mass of the material, barring of course during a change process). He further claims this extenisve property and the law relating temperature and entropy can be violated in correlated systems. Hence for such systems a new/modified law is required.

This view (as I understood) is strongly dependent on the belief of the extensive nature of entropy. While some oppponents of the Tsallis entropy claim it violates the zero-th law of thermodynamics. Which of these is sacrosant?

I do not know the answer. What I find very intriguing about this debate is (the concept itself, because it draws inspiration from self similar and fractal curves) and also the fact that based on which previous theory one holds sacerd, one’s views change. But is any Physics principle or theory really sacrosanct? Who is to say when (in the distant future) something we believe to be absolutely correct now shall be proved wrong/special case?

For CLEO in San Jose

Its been a long time since I posted or so it feels…

Work has been manic and I feel like there is a mountain to climb everyday. However, not all of it is bad. Some of the work has been for CLEO: I shall be giving a short course “Finite Element Modelling Methods for Optics and Photonics”, course number SC410 on the 10th of June. So I have been preparing the entire course slides and its taken some doing (about 130 slides!)

Needless to say I am excited as this is my first short course and I am really looking forward to talking about my subject. Its a great opportunity to really get into how numerical methods work, especially the FEM. I hope the attendees will enjoy it and find it useful.

I am also looking forward to the conference and hearing the great talks. I am really keen to learn more about attosecond Physics…(some how I really feel this field will open up new Science).
Then there will be the fabulous shopping!

May be I will see you there!