I’m thinking of moving my blog to WordPress.com because they use WordPress software to manage their blogs. While there, I found Plasma Pong [click for a download] Atari Boy‘s blog. It’s pretty fun, but I suggest you use an external mouse rather than the touchpad on your laptop. You’ll need Windows. [Sorry, my Apple-inclined friends.] The music is dramatic. Think that Guinness commercial staged on a train and set to the Carmina Burana-level dramatic.These screen shots are mine. Atari Boy has more here.

I apologize for the impersonal nature of this post. I tried to make up for it with lots and lots of links.

To Michelle, Some Errata

Dear Madam,

I must admit that you’ve caught me. To be truthful, I had my misgivings concerning the accuracy of my memory. The story seemed all too familar to me, and, indeed it was. I applaud your shrewdness and commend your boldness. Allow me, then, to recount what really happened Friday afternoon until evening, for I did go to Tracy’s to watch the Sox, the Italian Job, and the Snatch before falling asleep.

Friday morning I woke up at about 10 am to the construction outside my window. From the looks of it, they have nearly finished laying the several layers of finer and finer gravel on the site of the new graduate housing to be built behind G Tower. I showered and dressed. It was a bit early for my taste, but I was already fully awake and there was no possibility of going back to bed. I considered going to the pool, but as I hadn’t been in over two weeks, the inertia of my habbits facilitated keeping with my recent “no exercise” mantra. Not to mention, I was still rather sleepy.

I looked up a number of books on Dirac operators and gravity on HOLLIS, our school library catalogue, trying to find a derivation of ADM mass, but, alas, to no avail. Abby called to ask me if I could help her move this weekend and whether I preferred Saturday or Sunday. I chose Sunday. This was around 11 am. Had it not been for the construction, I may’ve been quite angry. That isn’t so, as I’m not usually angry at anyone for waking me up. But there are rules, and they are to be respected. I have a rule about waking up before 1 pm: I don’t do it.

By 11:30 am, I was getting antsy. Grendel’s has a terrific four dollar lunch special. I ordered the French dip and added a cup of chicken tortilla soup. It’s a steal at only ninety-nine cents. As usual, I tipped 75%, but only because the food is so cheap and because I really like the waitstaff.

I brought a copy of Poor’s Differtial Geometric Structures with me to slow the eating process, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand connections and parallel transport on bundles fully. This is sad to me. But I still have a copy of Lisa Randall’s book. I came home and picked up my new orange book and read a bit more about the Standard Model and particles.

Thirty or so pages later, Tracy called me, asking my favourite beer. I told her that I had already told her — I really like Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Flying Dog Doggy Style, others, too, of course. She, like Abby, was scheduled to work at 5 pm at Legal’s. They had overstaffed and sent her home. We hit up University Wine for some Rogue Mocha Porter and Rolling Rock, for balance. Then we bussed it over to Watertown for the Sox game. You can read what happened after that.

And so, Michelle, and others, I leave it to you to decide whether this post was a complete lie or not. Mind you, I have some lovely home-made minkie skin lampshades and the funniest lemur hats you could imagine for sale, should you want them. And they’re fresh, too.

Even String Theorists Can Be Nice.

I just emailed Clifford Johnson, a professor at USC who specializes in string theory and gravity. More importantly he is one of the permanent bloggers at Cosmic Variance. Recently he recounted a story from his advisor at the University of Southampton. So, I started thinking, hey! that probably means Clifford, who teaches in the States, probably got his degree in England.

Previously I had had some reservations about postgraduate degrees from abroad. But I had also had the feeling that most of the big general relativity things happen in England. After all, it’s tradition.

Sir Arthur Eddington, a pacifist, quaker, humanitarian, and Chief Astronomer at the Observatory of Cambridge University, single-handedly brought Einstein’s relativity to the Allied World — proving that science transcends political boundaries even in a time of war. Anyway, it was Eddington who made Einstein famous. He not only understood and explained the theory — which, at the time, was a remarkable feat in and of itself — he also gathered the money and manpower to execute two expeditions to put GR to its first experimental test. Eddington himself led the team in South America, while another headed to Africa, both to observe the bending of light by the sun during a solar eclipse.

The rest, as they say, is history. England has continued to produce excellent relativists, and not just in the philosophical sense. Hawking and Penrose are, perhaps, the most famous. But there are also Gibbons, d’Inverno, Tod, Geroch, and so many more!

After reading Clifford’s post, I decided to email him about his Southampton experience. Minutes later I received a response.

Add Warwick, Durham, and Southampton to my English school list.

We’re Changing It Up!

You can find my NEW BLOG at http://jreyes.blogdns.com! [Actually, I never moved there.]

Following Peter Woit and the guys at Cosmic Variance, I decided that maybe I should follow fold and start using WordPress for my personal blogging. Not to say that the folks at the Berkman Center don’t allow for a nice blogging experience, I just want a bit more control over the functionality and presentation of my personal newspaper is all. This is why I use LaTeX rather than Microsoft Word or some other WYSWIG document processor. [Also it minimized the number of times my roommates would ask to use my printer while they were here. But that wasn’t ever immediately my intent.]

Unfortunately, as it would happen, for me, WordPress requires access to Php and MySQL — a scripting language and a database. Undergraduates can’t get a hold of these fancy internet toys, so I can’t host this thing on my school account. So, as I pride myself on my resourcefulness and fickle compulsiveness, I hunted down and installed an Apache sever on my laptop, configured Php and even created a MySQL database. Now I can post, but, you, my reader, cannot access my posts. At least, I’m not sure that you can reliably.

I’m investigating what sort of privileges I have at the Design School. Yesterday I remembered that I might have an account there. And I do; you can send me email at my GSD account, and I can masquerade as an architect in training on the internet — something that doesn’t sound fun enough to do. But if I can use their computers to host my blog, perhaps I’ll change my tagline to “Because I don’t go to the Design School.” In the meantime, I’ll figure out how to import and coordinate and keep everything at the Law School.

Nova scienceNOW

Last fall I took a class at MAS 714J: Systems and Self; it was a look into meta-cognition and application of technology to learning. Harvard Ed School Technology in Education kids. (I have things to say about the program, but I guess I’m not supposed to slander my own school, right?) I’ve heard the Media Lab called the “dot com of academics.” I can appreciate what they were saying, but it’s important not to discount the whole program because of a few, failed flashy projects. If anything, the Media Lab is a lesson in avoiding bad ideas. But nothing I have said has been substantiated.

The point is, snuck in among the TIE kids was a very sharp, very well-spoken woman named Bella. She was a spy from WGBH doing research for a new spin-off called Nova scienceNOW!. The social engineers on Western Ave were trying to stage and science revolution. Introduce science into bars. Don’t replace trivia night. Add live demonstration night to the rotation. Get scientists sloppy drunk and explain decentralized systems to the masses.

I can only imagine what would happen if Ian and I got drunk in the presence of a real cosmologist. Things are bad enough as they are. Ask Danny, or Tey. We’ve hit a real, horrible block in our mathematical cognitive philosophy debates. (To speak nothing of the Nature of Space and Time debates by Penrose and Hawking.)

Which leads me, perhaps a bit forcedly, to this article whose reference I stole from Peter Woit’s blog over at Columbia, which I recently learned Gopal reads, too. It’s an article in the archives about the need for a background independence in a successful theory of quantum gravity. Something I’ve said blindly for at least a year because of a quantum loop gravity book I got a hold of. I, however, quickly put the book down when I realized the amount of algebra I’d need to read it. But everyone should read this artcile. Much of it is a history of science lesson mixed with a survey of contemporary theories. If anything, it’d impress most of the guests at the next cocktail party you attend.

The Internet is Everywhere.

Last night, Danielle and I headed over to the harbor nearest to the US Coast Guard building in the North End. There is what one might, at first glance, perhaps, believe is a scary alley populated by nogoodnick gansgters. What better place to dispose of a body than the docks next to a government building and behind what seems to be an abandonned public pool? Ah, but here the clovers grow thick and their scent mixes with the brine of the see. Across the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument shine (until midnight or so, then they shut down the Hill. Same goes for Old North Church, which, no less stunning, resides directly behind the playground — inlandwardly.)

But that’s not really the meaning of this post. What I mean to tell you is this: The internet is everywhere. With my laptop less than twenty-four hours old in hand and the Strawberry Festival Full Moon (also the Rose Full Moon to some) waxed complete, it was time to take this puppy on the road. (At this point it should be noted that Bubbles, Danielle’s iBook came along, too. In fact, I’m writing this post on Bubbles right now. Danielle has Jacobi, my laptop, held captive until she finishes another of her practice GRE tests.) Once we found parking in nearby Charlestown, she and I headed over to the clover covered patch to — you guessed it folks — study math. I hit up an article on the Penrose Inequality (gr-qc/0312047).

Not too long ago Greg Valiant told me that the CIA asks during its interviews for new employees if they have ever wanted to be a florist or had an interest in flowers, something like that. Statistically, he explained, there is a high correlation among those who have and those who suffer from, euphamistically speaking, mental instabilities. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me at the time. But I accepted this fact on faith, until now.

Danielle exhibited reservations at first, but once she picked her first clover, she, and they, were done in. The sort of fastidiousness, the calculation, the avariciousness, it all smacked of torture. And that was convenient. During our walk from the car we had discussed the merits of torture, or rather, the lack thereof. But as she ruthlessly reached for the thickest clover, no, now the longest one, oh, this one bent, I’ll grab another one, we both began to understand the wisdom of the CIA.

Of course, as she hunted her next victim, I couldn’t help myself. After all, I had successfully found and logged onto an unsecure local wireless network and emailed my excitement.

By the way, the bouqet Danielle arranged looked nothing short of magnificent. I wish I knew more about plants so that my description could mean more. It looked largely like a purple broccoli, punctuated by the long, pointy closed blossoms of some small lily-like wild plant. The bouquet symbolized all the buzzwords from a syllabus on literature: nature and the city, order and chaos, and, my favourite, beauty and brutality.


Joshua is proud to announce his new weblog, hosted by the kind folks at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School. Following in the long tradition of math concentrators before him, Joshua cannot muster the energy nor the determination to graduate from college. Instead, you can find him most days lounging in his room where he gazes from his penthouse view over the Charles River towards Boston. Someday he hopes to decide upon, find an advisor for, and complete his thesis. This weblog chronicles his trials and travails.