Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I was in my comfortable couch in the Brookhaven Lab apartment with Patrick, watching CNN when the live coverage that Hurricane Katrina was about to strike New Orleans. At the time they were showing pictures from satellites with the evolution of the storm. I didn't pay much notice at the moment, since I knew it was hurricane season and that this event was common.
The next day I logged in into the greek news website I regurarly read, and when a foreign event is in the cover story, usually it's something big. Within a few minutes I was just astounded by the news that 80% of the city was underwater, people killed and houses relocated. And when I saw the picture of the Supedome half-torn apart, I just paused my life.
The phrase "A hurricane is coming" is not as powerful as "Hurricane Katrina" is coming.
hence scientists assing names to the hurricanes as soon as they form so that people take them seriously.
Where? IMAX @ The Bridge
Watching another IMAX 3D movie, I am quite convinced that this is the way that most movies will be filmed in a few years. The new applications that the 3D tehnology provides are just limitless. James Cameron (Titanic, T2, Aliens etc) is one of the major fans of the 3D technology, and in this movie here he has done his best to saw us what is it about. The movie includes magnificent shots both in and out of the water, it just never felt so real before. Now that I have a car I am not going to miss any of the IMAX 3D movies around.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
If this is true, what can one say about the flocks of scientists that occupy the National Labs? These labs are full of at least middle aged (usually >50 years old) people, living quiet routine lives. Maybe this is what scientists will realize is the ultimate goal of life.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
edit: Oups, it's out already... talk.google.com . It's a cute start, but a it has some way to go before reaching the level of the other IM services.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The pictures from Intel's presentation along with some comments are located here.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Jack Nicolson is a private detective in 1930's Los Angeles, when the city only had 1,000,000 people, and was facing the threat of drought in the middle of the summer. The movie just makes so much more sense when you've actually lived there. The screenplay is incredible (won oscar for that), and the wording many times left me speechless. People just don't make movies like that anymore.
Where? Home Theater
Who? Themos, Demetri
Where? Home Theater
Saturday, August 20, 2005
"Carmen Electra is on the show tonight for... Who cares why?"
This girl is just so hot. I just can't believe how thinner all these celebrities are in real life.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
- Mummy: The ride. Although very short in duration, we went 3 times there and it was so much fun. I love indoor, dark roller coasters because of the element of surpise they always have. Also, this guy is the first forwards+backwards-moving roller coaster in the world, and they could only do that using electromagnetic propulsion rather than gravity (even the all-acclaimed X at Magic Mountain uses gravity). This allows for extremely new experiences: all the sudden you accelerate at high speeds while still on level ground, and after a few moments of ups and downs and turns you encounter a brick wall where you abruptly stop. While wondering what the heck is going to happen now, the same extreme acceleration forces you to move backwards through more twists and turns, while 200 speakers, water sprays and winds enhance the thrill even more. When the ride halts, it rotates 180 degrees while beimg blasted with steeming hot air before you exit. Woohoo!
- The War of the Worlds set, picture below:
I was amazed to see the set from the crashed airplane from the movie, where they dismantled a real Boeing 747. It looked so awesome.
- Only a few feet away from the airplane Wysteria Lane is located, a site that I immediately recognised since Desperate Housewives was onr of tmy favorite shows last year.
- Van Helsing's castle was ok, similar to the previous Mummy-scary type pyramid they had there.
- They have added some more extra stuff to their tours, like the rotating tunnel and the flooded Mexican city.
- Fear Factor Live was pure fun! Competition, special effects and various little gimmicks having 2000 in the auditorium was just awesome.
The classics of T2-3D, Shrek 4D and Waterworld are still amazing to watch repeatedly. Animal Planet, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park are old but nice attractions to fill the extra time. Finally, this time of the year (and weekdays!) is perfect to visit such attractions. Not too many people, and not too few. The wait times are 20min tops, while all the seats are still full.
That's a huge number, considering that SLAC needs 3000 m to accelerate electrons to 50GeV, and we got 1/3 of this value in 10,000 less length! (0.3m of plasma)
Do I smell Nature Physics?
There were many times this summer that I felt I was the only person in the building. It was nice, quiet and calm. I liked it because it helps me concentrate better. But now the fall semester is about to start next week, bringing more responsibilities, noisy backgrounds and people running around in the hallways.
Speaking of responsibilities, today I have to fully review 2 of my undergrad classes, Linear Algebra and Probability theory so that I can take the placement exams tomorrow in order for me to register for the acclaimed Random Processes in Engineering course. I don't expect to pass now, but still I want to go for the experience. It's fun to watch other people suffering :-)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
first one says to the second that the average
person knows very little about
basic mathematics. The second one disagrees
and claims that most people can
cope with a reasonable amount of math.
The first mathematician goes off to the
washroom, and in his absence the second
calls over the waitress. He tells her
that in a few minutes, after his friend has
returned, he will call her over and ask
her a question. All she has to do is answer
“one third x cubed.” She repeats
“one thir–dex cue?” He repeats “one third
x cubed.” She asks, “one thir dex cuebd?”
“Yes, that’s right,” he says. So she agrees,
and goes off mumbling to herself, “one
thir dex cuebd…”. The first guy returns
and the second proposes a bet to prove
his point, that most people do know
something about basic math. He says
he will ask the blonde waitress an integral,
and the first laughingly agrees.
The second man calls over the waitress
and asks “what is the integral of x
squared?” The waitress says “one third
x cubed” and while walking away, turns
back and says over her shoulder, “plus
Monday, August 15, 2005
Myst IV moved along the lines of Myst III, with stunning graphics, realistic environments and usually quality riddles. For the first time a supernatural ingredient was introduced, yet in a very pleasant way. Rand Miller did a great job, having several breathtaking moments during the game. My favorite riddle: the colored door.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
1. My credit line will double to $4,600 . Thanks for Katsouleas' research trips to New York, the conferences and the hotels and car rentals... woo hoo!
2. I will wake up and find a young blonde engineer girl in my home... What else can one ask for?
I hadn't watched a movie without special effects for a long time. The Deer Hunter is very weird. Although it starts off really slowly, it get very interesting as it progresses and you see how the lives of the people change after they went to Vietnam. It won best picture oscar in 1978, I think more because of the theme rather than the actual quality as a movie (which is very high level already). And the cast is best of the best: De Niro, Walken, Meryl Streep.
Friday, August 12, 2005
My latest simulation was producing over 200GB of data so they had to kill it:-) I'll see if I can around this issue. If I lower my resolution the output may be noisy again, but I'll give it a try.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
My next attempt was the weakly nonlinear approximation. This approach linearizes the equations, and produces linear PDEs instead of nonlinear, and moves the nonlinearity to the right hand side of the equations and they appear as external forces to the system.
Now I can start using Matlab to solve these equations...
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Saturday: IKEA, first thing in the afternoon to get new furniture for Kostas' place. He spent $1100, exactly the money that I spent last summer for my room. Steak+eggs+pancakes at ihop, then quickly home for 30min and then off for Cat & Fiddle at Hollywood, for some new introductions.
Meanwhile I wrote the handout for lasers for our freshman EE class which turned out to be quite good I think. Then I finished the handout on Quantum tunneling, which I don't really know how good is it going to be. I went through a lot to manage to bring it down to the freshman (essentially high school!) level. Let's see what Katsouleas will think about that.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
This movie was initially introduced as a B movie, and it succeds in this way. Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, without anything original though, it is quite fun. Spielberg's attempts were superior though since they actually have some interesting story to tell.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
This is definately not a Hollywood film (you'll realize why seconds after the movie starts). A young girl crashed by accident her car into an expensive Mercedes and has to pay a debt of 100,000 for the car, while working as a waitress. The movie asks how is this fair, an insignificant amount of money for such a person to destroy a girl's life.
The movie is weirdly real, the german girl is also quite impressive and the whole attempt has a strong point and a beautiful ending, although it will annoy many people.
Friday, August 05, 2005
The battle is not over though: I got 3 more books plus I contacted a prof in our math department plus I emailed some guys at Caltech that seem to be working on these problems, and when I get to talk to them I'm sure they will help me a lot.
Meanwhile I have to prepare within a couple of days meterial for the introduction to EE class that I will be TAing, namely on Quantum Mechanics, Lasers and Computer Networks. A long weekend lies ahead, mon amies.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
So I headed towards the library, to the finite island of knowledge only to get my hopes down again. There is no text on systems of nonlinear partial differential equations, apart from collections of papers (I don't want to go there yet). Of course there are plenty of books on numerical methods from scratch, but that will be my last resort. For now I left with the only text I found: "An introduction to nonlinear partial differential equations", from a guy at the university of Nebrasca.
- Cirque de Soleil: O (Bellagio) and Mystere (Treasure Island)
- Forum Shops (Caesar's Palace)
- Guggenheim Museums (Venetian)
- Luxor Architecture
- Jubilee! (Bally's)
- Fountain Show (Bellagio), viewed both from the street and the Eiffel Tower opposite
- Le Cirque restaurant (Bellagio)
- Star Trek restaurant
- Celine Dion (Caesar's Palace)
- Bellagio's Art Collection
- Atlantis IMAX-3D (Caesar's Palace)
- Adventuredome (Circus-Circus)
- Vertical Reality (GameWorks)
- Rumjungle (Mandalay Bay)
- David Copperfield (MGM Grand)
- Buffet buffet buffet (Bellagio, Paris...)
- Las Vegas Cyber Speedway (Sahara)
- Garden of the Gods (Caesar's Palace)
- Mandalay Beach (Mandalay Bay)
- Battle for Buccaneer Bay (Treasure Island)
- Olympian + Deja Vu
- Indoor Skydiving
That must be at least $1000 in entertainment and food... but hey, if you don't spend in Vegas, where are you going to spend?
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The Vonitsaneans are a happy sort of people, living their simple and uneventful lives at the shores of the Amvrakikos bay. Their lives mainly involve drinking coffee at the famous local cafeteria Jeffrey-O, wetting their legs in the murky waters of Amvrakikos and sleeping a lot. One of their favorite occupations is to go on weekend nights to the Comitis club and look seriously ultra-cool according to the local mating rituals. Vonitsanean girls are very pretty but, should you ever get infatuated with one, you should know that they can get you married in 2.7 seconds. Spontaneous wedding ceremonies are known to appear out of nowhere even if there is no one of marital age around.
Another major chapter in a Vonitsanean's life is driving a car. Using the Force is an understatement for a Vonitsanean's way of dealing with the steering of a car. Basic car-dodging skills are for some generations now inherited genetically to the local offspring. Vonitsaneans also don't seem to get to grasp the notion of a pavement, so you won't be able to spot any of them.
Hence the only solution I see is to go back to the original, simpler 3 equations and try to solve them numerically. Can Matlab do it?
On the theoretical part, there seems to be no way to get an better analytical solution for the envelope of my differential equation. I can get one if I Taylor-expand, but it is not complete since if I add more terms to the expansion I get better answers. Hence since even with Taylor expansion I get approximate (yet closed form) answers, it is likely that I cannot get closed form exact answers.
So I move on to the next step, which is instead of solving the 1D (spatial) problem to introduce time as a second variable. This will give insight into time-dependent effects which we definitely need.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Also, I took a couple of panoramic pictures (i.e. I merged a set of pictures later to create a huge one). They are quite spectacular, since you can see all the main features of the bay area: Oakland, the Rock, downtown, the Golden gate etc. They can be found here and here (that's 10000 pixels wide!).
Here we will use Quantum Mechanics to prove that the probability is 1/2. We will need only 3 facts here, all of which are a consequence of QM:
1. The polarization in each photon is decided only when we measure them. Let me explain, since this is the most crucial difference: Until we measure any of the photons, we do not have any clue as to what their polarization is. In fact, the polarization is not determined until we make the measurement (hence it is not decided at the birth but only when we measure them). Also, since (as before in part 2) the photons are born correlated (identical) once we find out the polarization in one of them the other one will instantly acquire (at that exact moment!) the same polarization.
This is the spooky action at a distance that Einstein objected to. The main difference with part 2 is that the polarization is not decided at birth but the measurement itself specifies it.
2. Collapse of the wavefunction. This is a standard result of QM (Einstein was ok with that). When you make a measurement and find the polarization along a certain direction, subsequent measurements will always yield the same result with probability 1. This is because once you measure something, there is no uncertainty thereafter as to what the value is. For example, if a detector is along direction 3 and it flashes green, then any other measurement will find the same photon to be along direction 3.
Here is the critical step though: In addition, from assumption 1, the other photon will instantly be forced to have polarization along direction 3 too, even though we measured the first photon! Hence not only the measured photon will always yield again the same result with probability 1, but the other photon (due to the correlation they had from birth) will always yield the same result with probability 1 also...
At this point you should go back and read the last paragraph again since here lies the difference between the classical common sense description and the Quantum Mechanical one. In QM the measurement of the first photon will INSTANTLY force BOTH photons to align in the same direction, which is the direction of the axis of the detector. In the classic view this does not happen since the direction of the photons is predetermined at birth and it is fixed since then. Keep also in mind that the direction of the axis of the detectors is decided right before the photons hits the detector, while the other photon is far far away.
For example, we decide to put the detector along direction 1 and then we get a green light from photon A, which means that photon B is instantly also aligned with along direction 1. Then in the next shot we decide to put the detector along direction 2, and we get a red light from photon A, which means that photon B is instantly aligned opposite of direction 2 (same with photon A).
3. If the polarization of a photon forms an angle θ with respect to the orientation detector, the probability that the detector will flash green is P=cos^2(θ/2). This is a Quantum Mechanical result that I will not prove here, but I will explain how it makes a lot of sense to be that way.
Here, the photon is pointing up and the detector is along some direction A that forms and angle θ with the polarization of the photon. First, observe that cos^2(θ/2) is always positive and between 0 and 1 (like any probability!). Second, for θ=0 the detector is exactly along the polarization of the photon and hence it will always flash green (P=1). Third, for θ=180 degrees the detector is aligned opposite of the polarization and hence it will always flash red (P=0). Fourth, for θ=90 degrees, the detector is placed horizontally while the polarization is vertical, in which case there is a 50-50 chance of getting a green light. This just means that if we do the experiment with this last alignment 100 times, about 50 of them we will get a green light and about 50 of them red (This is just probabilities however; we may as well get 100 times the same light in actuality).
Now let's calculate again the probability that both detectors will flash green under this new Quantum view. For simplification let's assume that the axes that the detectors can be aligned are 120 degrees apart.
Suppose we align detector A along direction 1. When the photon is detected, let's assume it generates a green light. According to what we said in assumption 2, we instantly know now that the other photon is also pointing along direction 1. So, what is the probability that the other detector will also flash green?
Well, the detector will either be pointing along direction 1, or direction 2, or direction 3. If it is pointing along direction 1 it will flash green with probability cos^2(0)=1. If it is pointing along direction 2 it will flash green with probability cos^2(-120)=1/4, and if it is pointing along direction 3 it will flash green with probability cos^2(120)=1/4. Hence the total probability is
P = (1 + 1/4 + 1/4)/3 = 1/2
In this case we see that if Quantum Mechanics is right, Bell's inequality is violated since it says that this probability should be always greater than 5/9 > 1/2 .
Why is this result different than the common-sense answer 5/9? Because we allow for instant communication between the 2 photons, so that when the first is measured the other is instantly aligned in the same direction. Note that if you only measured instead of 3 directions just 2 (say up and down) there is no violation of the inequality (in that case
Before making any measurement, we predict that the probability is 5/9. After doing the measurement, the probability drops to 1/2. The action of measuring affects the probabilities of the outcomes - that concept lies at the heart of this story and transcends Quantum Mechanics.
Concluding, all these are just predictions until they are tested by experiment. In 1983 Alain Aspect did the first thorough experiment and proved that Bell's inequality was violated by 5 standard deviations. However Bell himself had pointed out that ideally the detectors had to be separated far away, so that there is no way for a signal to travel between them. Otherwise maybe after you set the detector's direction there can be a way for the photons to have predetermined at birth polarization and still get the violation answers (for example, if the detectors somehow communicate with each other). To prove the instant action from a distance, you have to have the detectors far far away.
In 1998 at team at Innsbruck generated 2 photons, fed them into optical fibers and sent them 400m apart allowing for 1.6μs of time to decide for the orientation of the detectors after any light speed signal could travel between them. Then they sat down in their computers and waited to observe a posteriori the data from the detectors. Low and behold, each time they changed the orientation of the detectors they saw a change in the statistics - that somehow the photons where communicating instantly when measured. Or better, that they are a single entity and not 2 individual items. The experiment violated the inequality with unprecedented accuracy. The paper was published in Nature the next year and Alain Aspect reviewed it.
I will end the story by quoting Aspect who mostly quotes Feynman at the last paragraph of his review:
"It has not yet become obvious to me that there is no real problem... I have entertained myself always by squeezing the difficulty of Quantum Mechanics into a smaller and smaller place, so as to get more and more worried about that particular item. It seems almost ridiculous that you can squeeze it to a numerical question that one thing is bigger than the another. But there you are - it is bigger..." Yes, it is bigger by 30 standard deviations.
Thanks to Gary Felder and his excellent article on Bell's theorem, located here.
This movie had a lot of noise. The writers felt they had to explain to their audience what a prime number is, but not what a quantum sponge is. The pickup line for Jessica Biel at the end of the movie had me laughing really hard:
- We are together. We are two. Two is a prime number. And prime numbers are lucky.
- Just say you love me, you pussy.
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