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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Σκέψεις...

Ξεκινάω το τελευταίο post του 2006 στο απαστράτπον word 2007 (thanks καράμπελα!). Από το νέο έτος το blog κλείνει 2 έτη ύπαρξης, κοντά στα 500 post και θα επανάλθει με νέο look (τώρα που ο blogger έφυγε και από beta), και μόνο στα ελληνικά (για λόγους τους οποίους θα εξηγήσω αργότερα).

Συνηθίζεται να γράφει κανείς στο τέλος μιας χρονιάς για τα σημαντικότερα πράγματα και γεγονότα που συνέβησαν. Δεν το έχω κάνει, αλλά φέτος υπάρχουν δύο πράγματα τα οποία υπήρχαν στο μυαλό μου σχεδόν ολόκληρο το χρόνο, και πιστεύω πως κοιτώντας πίσω σε μερικά χρόνια θα θυμόμαστε το 2006 για αυτά. Το ένα θέμα είναι τεχνολογικό (αναγκαστικά) και το άλλο πλανητικό. Θα τα μοιραστώ λοιπόν.

Δεν ξέρω πόσοι έχετε δει το εξώφυλλο του χριστουγεννιάτικου Time, όπου παραδοσιακά στο τελευταίο τεύχος της χρονιάς δημοσιεύουν το Person of the Year. Φέτος είχαν ένα παραθυράκι του Youtube με ένα καθρεφτίζον φύλλο πάνω: YOU.

Φέτος ήταν η χρονιά που το web πραγματικά εξελίχθηκε. Πριν μια δεκαετία τα πρώτα site που σήμερα είναι παντοκράτορες έκαναν το ντεμπουτο τους: Amazon, eBay, yahoo, google (λίγο αργότερα) και άλλα. Φέτος όμως μια άλλη γενιά site εκανε μπουμ: youtube, myspace, Wikipedia, digg, και φυσικά τα δεκάδες εκατομμυρίων blog. Όλα αυτά έχουν το κοινό στοιχείο πως ο κόσμος ανεβάζει και δημιουργεί περιεχόμενο. Βίντεο στο youtube, σελίδες στο myspace, άρθρα στη Wikipedia, ειδήσεις στο digg, και φυσικά όλα τα προσωπικά και μή ημερολόγια στα blogs. Αν προσθέσει κανείς σε αυτά το Second Life, τον online virtual κόσμο όπου πλέον πάνω από 2,000,000 άνθρωποί ζούνε ψηφιακά, είναι φανερή η κλίση που υπάρχει: δεν αρκούμαστε πια σε στατικά site που κάποιος άλλος έφτιαξε για εμάς. Ο κόσμος δημιουργεί τώρα σελίδες και υλικό και το ανεβάζει μόνος του. Μόνο στο youtube 65,000 videos ανεβαίνουν κάθε ημέρα, με περισσότερα από 100,000,000 views κάθε μήνα. Τα βιντεάκια της lonelygirl15 που δίχασαν τους πάντες το περασμένο καλοκαίρι τα είδαν εκατομμύρια κόσμου προσπαθώντας να μαντέψουν αν είναι αληθινά ή στημένα (τελικώς στημένα, αλλά αυτό δεν μείωσε την εμπορικότητά τους). Το όλο αυτό φαινόμενο σφραγίστηκε όταν το google αγόρασε για $1.6B το youtube τον οκτώβρη, μια εταιρεία δεν έχει καν 2 χρόνια ζωής απασχολώντας καμια 100 άτομα όλα και όλα. Τώρα που τα bandwidths αυξάνουν (και κυρίως το upload), έχει ενδιαφέρον να δούμε που θα πάει αυτό.

Το δεύτερο και πιο σοβαρό γεγονός είναι ότι (στα μάτια τουλάχιστον) το φαινόμενο του θερμοκηπίου όχι μόνο έχει πια επιβεβαιωθεί και εδραιωθεί αλλά μου φαίνεται είναι και αργά να κάνουμε κάτι πια (δεδομένου ότι σε 1-2 χρόνια οι τακτικές δεν αλλάζουν αστραπιαία). Ανήκω πιστεύω στην τελευταία γενιά που ζει και καταναλώνει και αναπτύσεται ξέγνοιαστα. Τα παιδιά μας θα αντιμετωπίσουν έναν πολύ διαφορετικό κόσμο: Ο συγκατοικός μου ο Andrew επιστρέφοντας φέτος στον Καναδά εξεπλάγην που για πρώτη φορά στα χρονικά δεν υπήρχε χιόνι Χριστογεννιάτικα. Μέχρι το 2050 ολόκληρος ο Βόρειος Πόλος θα έχει λιώσει. Ο μισός Αμαζόνιος μέχρι το 2040 θα έχει υλοτομηθεί. Το 1/3 όλων των ψαριών παγκοσμίως έχουν αλιευτεί. Η Κίνα θα ξεπεράσει σύντομα την Αμερική σε ρυθμούς αναπτυξης, ζήτηση για πετρέλαιο και φυσικά μόλυνση του περιβάλλοντος. Το πετρέλαιο και αυτό τελειώνει σύντομα και μετά θα γίνει σφαγή για τις εναλλακτικές πηγές ενέργειας. Δεν υπάρχει πια εβδομάδα να περνάει και να μην διαβάζω κάποιο άρθρο για τις συνέπειές στο περιβάλλον. Φωνάζει ο καημένος ο Al Gore αλλά δε φτάνει...

Την πιο ρεαλιστική απεικόνιση του μέλλοντος σε 50-100 χρόνια δεν την έχω δει πουθενά. Φυσικά και δεν πρόκειται να πνιγουν οι πόλεις στο νερό. Αλλά θα δούμε «σύντομα» μπαριέρες στα σύνορα του Μανχάταν και η πόλη θα είναι υποβυθισμένη και κάτω από το υψόμετρο της θαλάσσιας στάθμης

Χωρίς να κάνω πλάκα, αγοράστε σπίτια σε ελαφρώς βουνίσιες περιοχές (σε υψόμετρο και με δροσούλα) που να είναι σχετικά αυτάρκεις. Ευτυχώς στην ελλάδα έχουμε πάμπολλες τέτοιες και θα μπορέσουμε να ζήσουμε και χωρίς πετρέλαιο.

Anyway, πάω να τελειώσω να βλέπω το Love Actually, την καλύτερη Χριστουγεννιάτικη ταινία ever (την βλέπω κάθε χρόνο στις γιορτές από τότε που βγήκε). Και μετά θα το γυρίσω σε τίποτα Douglas Adams.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ελληνικές Εντυπώσεις

Η Ελλάδα είναι πολύ περίεργη χώρα. Επίσης είναι μια χώρα πολύ άσχημη οπτικά. Δεν μιλάω για την φύση και τις θάλλασσες, αλλά για τις πόλεις μας. Ερχόμενοι από το ΛΑ πριν λίγες μέρες, και εγώ και τη Ντόρα κάναμε πλάκα για την επιστροφή μας σε ένα μικρό Αφγανιστάν. Ακούγεται ιδιότροπο, και δεν το είχα καταλάβει όσο ζούσα εδώ αλλά τελικά όπου ζει κανείς συνηθίζει μετά από μερικά χρόνια και δεν έχει σημασία το περιβάλλον. Βλέπεις τα άσχημα κάθε μέρα και περνάς απαθής. Αλλά όταν βλέπεις διαφορά με έξω, τότε είναι αρκετά πιο προφανές και ενοχλεί.

Ως έλληνες είμαστε απίστευτα ατομιστές. Δεν μας νοιάζει καθόλου το κοινωνικό σύνολο εκτός αν πρόκειται να βολευτούμε εμείς. Τα σπίτια μας είναι τέλεια και άψογα, αφού πάω σε διάφορα σπίτια και όλα είναι στην εντέλεια, ένας καθρέφτης των ανθρώπων που ζουνε μέσα. Και φυσικά με φίλους μας τα περνάμε άψογα, διότι είμαστε ζεστοί με τον κόσμο που ξέρουμε. Αλλά με τον κόσμο που δεν γνωρίζουμε?

Εκεί το χάος. Βγαίνεις από τα λουσάτα σπίτια σε κακοσχεδιασμένα και μικρά πεζοδρόμια, δρόμους χάλια, πανάσχημες πολυκατοικίες να κόβουν την θέα, αμάξια να σου κόβουν το δρόμο 9 στις 10 περιπτώσεις, πράσινα πάρκα μηδέν, και πολλά πολλά άλλα. Πας σε άλλες χώρες της Ευρώπης και στις ΗΠΑ και είναι το αντίθετο: κόσμος πιο ψυχρός, που δεν θα γίνουν ποτέ κολλητοί σου, ΑΛΛΑ ότι έχει να κάνει με το κοινωνικό σύνολο είναι άψογο: νοσοκομεία, σχολεία, πάρκα, πόλεις... όλα είναι σχεδιασμένα με μεράκι και όρεξη, ώστε να βοηθείται ο άγνωστος, ο "ξένος" κόσμος όσο γίνεται καλύτερα.

Υπάρχει κάπου μέση λύση?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PSP Experience


I bought a PSP after a request of my brother that he needs it in the lazy hours of guarding the post (he is serving the 12 month mandatory greek military serving). After I opened it I couldn't leave it off my hands for more than 6 hours... this thing is just amazing! I uploaded to the 1GB memory photos and Mp3s, and I watched the movie that they supply together. Then I spent 3 hours to try and get the divx encoded tv shows I had downloaded to play on the PSP. Apparently it is one of the most hacked systems ever! I even show screenshots with the thing running windows...! My top moment was when I connected to the wireless router in my house and I started browsing the internet, and I connected to gmail and started reading my emails... I almost cried from happiness... it was a true geek moment... thank you Sony!

By the way Sony sucks. All this proprietary formats are all crap, and they make everyone's life harder. Haven't they learned from their mistakes? Betamax? mini-disc? and now UMD? (not to mention blue-ray!) Only UMD video discs play in the PSP, and then videos in mp4 or h.264 format. Anything else has to be converted with a 3rd party program. I think they would have had a huge success if they had left everything free. Who would buy a UMD disc that will probably be useless a few years from now? Nintendo on the other hand is also proprietary but has kept backward compatibility: gameboy cartidges from the 1980s (black and white) still play fine on the state of the art nintendo DS!

I also connected with USB2 to my laptop to download the files and downloaded on the fly a new version for the "PSP-OS". You can connect your camera directly and download photos, or use infrared to exchange stuff with another PSP. Plus the screen is a crystal clear 16:9 480x272 pixels with 16.7 million colors, which beats the iPod by far!

Oh, it runs games too...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cool stuff

Apple's Macbook have build in a Sudden Motion Sensor. It is basically an accelerometer that detects when the computer may by dropping and immediately turns off the hard drive so that they are not damaged during the impact. However people can use the input from the Sudden Motion Sensor to do various stuff. This guy specifically used bluetooth connection to control his Roomba (a robotic cleaner) just by tilting the Macbook! The cool video is presented here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Studio 60


There are two new tv shows that stand out (for me) this year. The first one is Heroes, for which I have very mixed feelings but I think it has a lot of potential. The other one is Studio 60, a show (with Mathew "Chandler" Perry as the main lead) about the life inside a studio preparing a show. In the last episode they had to prepare a Christmas show, and here is one of the dialogs in the conference room, which at the same time reflects a lot about Los Angeles and how life is here:


- What about ... Christmas? (pointing at a Christmas tree)
- What about it?

- It's our Christmas show...!

- Yeah... I thought we would ignore that.
- And why?
- Because It's LA and it's 85 degrees outside
- We are doing a Christmas show!
- LA just doesn't feel like Christmas

- We are going to make it feel like Christmas
- Take my advice and let's screw Christmas!

- Screw Christmas? Look, I hate Los Angeles like everybody else but I have to work here because in any other part of the country I am unemployable!

Lake Tahoe - PArt 2

continued from previous post...


I decided to split this Lake Tahoe megapost into two parts, because people were complaining that they don't have the patience to read the long posts (aka Έλλη). So after we ran away from the bears in the previous post and reached Emerald Bay, we took a few interesting pictures. Here's a nice picture with me and Dora:


and also here is a group picture (it was right before the other 3 guys were to join us):



After that we decided to travel to Tahoe City, a small town in the north and west side of the lake. Nothing too fancy, but there a couple of nice stores and restaurants. It was dawn at that time and I manages to take the following pic overviewing the lake and the clouds:


Incredible photo in my opinion... you can only get the reflection of the clouds if there is a lake (due to the fact there are no waves), and also you need a lake large enough to reflect them, and at the same time it has to be the right time of the day. I got all these 3 requirements here.


When we went back to our house, we started preparations for the big BBQ with steaks and salmon (wtf?) that we had planned. Here is the steak tower:



Here is a group picture with everyone around the fire:




The fact that we had to grill the salmon also was disgusting (to myself at least):


Later that night we played taboo, and then gathered around the fireplace and played Mafia (palermo) for over 4 hours... It was great fun as it has become one of my favorite games ever. There is just so much into this game. It is a must for groups of around 10 people (preferably if they know eachother!).


On the next day we had to decide how to spend the 3 hours of daylight we had (since by the time that everyone has to wake up, have breakfast, shower, prepare for the car trip and actually get there it was 1pm). We visited Emerald's Bay again, where I took some more beautiful pictures:




Then we decided to go for the hike that is exactly opposite of the bay. I hoped it would be a good choice since I failed to pick a trail without bears the day before:-) And in fact it was a great choice. It was the second best hike I have ever done (after the memorable Vernal Falls trail in Yosemite in May with the falls pouring water at full power!). The most original thing was the snow. Half of the path was covered in snow or ice (making it extremely hard to walk), plus as you go and climb up you get great views of lake Tahoe, plus the other smaller lake that is nearby (it was the first picture of the previous post), and at the same time the mountains are slightly covered in snow thus presenting extraordinary views. At the end we reached some half frozen falls...


Here is a view of the south shore of the lake as we saw it from up there:



After the hike we travelled to Tahoe City again for a few souvenirs, and we also went for dinner in an excellent restaurant called Jake's (on the right side of the road after the shops, ~$30 a person) by the lake. Over there we got our second to last group picture:



My only complain from the trip thus far was the fact that although there was snow in the ground, it didn't snow at all while we were there. This is a good thing on the one hand because we could go outside and play and walk and have fun and see around (yes, all 3 hours every day!). But on the last day, right when we were about to leave, it started snowing! We had to return the house keys by 12:00 noon and at 11:51 we took this great picture in front of our house:




We left at noon but it too us 12.5 hours to cover the 500 miles back to LA! The 5 freeway that connects California in the North-South axis has two lanes per direction but it was completely jammed around 6pm on that thanksgiving Sunday. It is an amazing feeling when you look around and all you see is dark and no lights for miles around you, however the freeway is completely packed with cars that barely move at 10mph! Despite California's 44M population, it is vastly empty...

The way back was not a waste of time. The fact that we had a minivan allowed us to have fun inside the car for almost all the way. People moved around, we told jokes, discussed, and ate. At some point, 6 hours after we had left Lake Tahoe, we realize we are still 300 miles away from LA! So we said "ok guys, we need to find something to discuss for the rest of the trip or else we will be bored to death". And then we had some of the most insightful discussions of the trip, with three main topics:

1. Do you believe in God?
2. Do you think there are alien life forms?
3. What is the difference between a scientist and an engineer?

I will return on the ideas put forth regarding these topics in a future post.


All in all, Lake Tahoe is a great place to have fun when you have good company. USC people traditionally went to lake tahoe in large groups over the past 5 years at least, and now it was our time. The minivan, the good company, the great house, plus the fact that we all were of similar attitude (for example no one wanted to sleep early or wake up too early for activities) helped in the creation of a most unique atmosphere. The place is not as beautiful as Yosemite (which still holds #1 for me in terms of physical beauty), but it is much more fun. I would like to visit in the summer too to watch the difference, although the cold and the fact that we had to gather inside the house with the fireplace made it an excellent short vacation. Everyone left happy!



(This is the huge matrix I created the day after we returned in order to divide and share the different costs of the trip...)





Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lake Tahoe - Part 1

There is one thing that I have to give credit to California: no other state it he US has so much beautiful scenery all packed together within a day's trip. Its 3 vastly different big cities (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Fransisco) are surrounded by countless beaches, numerous ski resorts, exhilarating national parks, deserts, mountains, cliffs, valleys.... the list just keeps growing. Here is another beautiful spot that we found out in our recent visit at Lake Tahoe:




Lake Tahoe (the blue waters at the far background) is a huge lake at an altitude of 2km. In this picture above you can see another smaller lake in the foreground and at a slightly higher altitude. They are separated by and surrounded by pine trees. it is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the US because especially in the winter one can do skiing and other winter activities while in the environment of the waters and the lake. For example, look at this amazing picture on the right (not by me) with the slope overlooking the lake. It is breathtaking...










So we decided to go there for our thanksgiving weekend. We were a group of 7 people that left altogether in a minivan (it was so much fun!) and we were joined on the next day by 3 more guys from USC. We rented a nice house near the lake (it was $300 a day, and it has 4 bedrooms) and the first thing we noticed when we got there it was how perfect it was: fully equipped kitchen, living room, fireplace, BBQ, everything was there! The only items we had to buy was some supplies like food and drinks.

We had to drive a full 9 hours to get there (including stops), it is 500miles from LA. When we got there it was thanksgiving day (which means there are no people around, everyone is dining at a friendly place). We thought we were the only people in the lake, but fortunately we found an open restaurant that served traditional turkey dinner (although myself I got a steak again). This is were we took our first group picture:




This is a view of a typical bedroom in our house:

This is about 1/3 of the room; there is a double bed on the other side of the picture.


In the night I felt for the first time this year some winter. I found this CD i had downloaded (legally and free, from Ruckus) named "The most relaxing piano something". I had it playing. We started the fireplace and we turned off all the lights in the house, and just sat around the fire talking...



So the first day was extremely tiring as you realize:-) In the following day we got up, ate breakfast, prepared, and set off to hind a good hike around the lake. At this time of the year (late November) there is not much snow around to allow skiing.

I found a trail that looked interesting on the guide I had brought with me (Lonely Planet's California). When we got there there weren't many people, but there must have been bears around since the only marks we found on the snow were bear prints:


Some people in the group (aka Melania) were scared. Our reaction was this:

( it is not a fake picture!)

So we ran away. Since we had 2 hours before it got dark (which is 4pm), we went on the west side of the lake, in a place called Emerald Bay, one of the best natural ports and also one of the most photographed places anywhere in the world:




to be continued...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Lake Tahoe Intro

The opening credits of the video I made for the Lake Tahoe trip is ready. The blog is coming soon!

Friday, December 01, 2006

And old friend

(or my story as a phd admission candidate)


Eli Yablonovitch came from UCLA today to give a talk here at USC. He is the founder of the field of photonic crystals, which are used to manipulate light in the same way that transistors manipulate electrons. Photonic crystals will eventually be used for photonic computers - a superfast computer that used light instead of electric currents to calculate.

The guy has huge prestige in his field (as I now have learned). He founded the field, he had the first original ideas, he was the first to demonstrate them experimentally, and now he is the founder of two companies trying to manufacture these things. He has an interesting scientific american article that is available for download here. He even has his name on a material, Yablonovite.

Although I met him for the first time today, I have a long story with him. In a sense, he determined my future as a scientist without him even knowing it.

It was back in February of 2003 when I was waiting to hear back from the graduate schools in the US regarding my application for a PhD. UCLA was the first to respond, and this guy sends me an email that I quote here:

Efthymios: Congratulations, you are being considered for a Fellowship in my Research Group at UCLA. I wonder if we can schedule a telephone call to follow up. Please let me know what telephone number you can be reached at, and when I should call. Eli Y.


I was amazed when I saw this. My first response from the US was a fellowship at his group! I didn't have any idea back then regarding who he is or what he does other than the fact that he worked on a field that I was interested at. I later realized that my ignorance was a good thing as in any other case I might have accepted the offer immediately. But we decided to talk on the phone. So he called at my crappy apartment at 9pm on a Friday night, and discussed a little bit about his research and what I was doing. He seemed like a nice guy, and the fellowship sound very good. However I was inexperienced with the process, and since UCLA was my first response so early, I decided not to accept. I said to him that I would wait for other universities to answer before I decide. And he said it would be fine.

On March 20th, about a month later, this is our email exchange:



I don't agree that Stanford is necessarily a better choice than
UCLA. In the meantime, I understand that Financial Aid will be essential
for you to be able to study here. We will be able to say more about
Financial Aid after March 31.
Eli Y.

>So I am still waiting replies from Stanford (they say until March 30th) and
>Georgia Tech, Illinois. I am not in a position to know when they are going
>to respond, and that is why I would like to know whether or not I have to
>reply to you up to a certain date ( I do not know what the admission
>procedures are, deadlines, funding, etc).
>I just don't want delay on my behalf to cost my admission in UCLA.
>
>Thank you,
>Efthymios Kallos




For some reason I preferred to go Stanford rather than UCLA. If I knew this guy better, I would have said yes earlier. I now realize that waiting that long was a mistake (in trying to go into his group!). On April 7 of 2003, one week before the April 15th deadline for admission, after being rejected from Stanford and Illinois I sent him an email telling I would like to join his group.


Efthymios:
You are currently on the waiting list for Financial Support. The
situation should be more clear in about 2 weeks.
Eli Y.

At 08:43 AM 4/7/03, you wrote:
>Prof. Yablonovich:
>
>I would like to tell you that I am now ready to join your group, provided
>that I get adequate financial aid. I would appreciate it if you could
>inform me in detail on this matter, and if there is anything I can do on
>my behalf.
>
>Thank you,
>Efthymios Kallos


By then I realize that the fellowship is gone! I was in a waiting list for financial aid, which is nothing... And I have to decide on where to go within 7 days! Slightly in panic regarding my future, I email him on the next day:

At 02:54 PM 4/8/03, you wrote:
>I am sorry for bothering you again, but this is important for me:
>
>At this point, can you give me any clue regarding the *probability* of
>getting some kind of financial aid? If you think that it is probable that I
>won't get any kind of support, I would like to know it so as to keep a
>failsafe choice of mine open. ( most admission decision deadlines expire
>after April 15th)
>
>Thank you,
>Efthymios Kallos



His cold reply was:

Efthymios:
The safe thing would be to accept the offer that you have. If you
don't mind, I'd like to know which University that is.
Eli Y.



So he rejects me. Maybe he found another student to do what he needed? Maybe he didn't care anymore? I cannot tell. His last reply is as following:

Efthymios:
At 02:17 AM 4/9/03, you wrote:
>Actually there are 2 offers: from Univ. of Michigan (which expires in a
>week) and from Ohio State (they have not set an absolute deadline yet).

I think it would be best to accept one of those offers.

>I thought that once I decided to enroll at ucla the financial aid wouldn't
>be a problem.

There is no financial aid for you at UCLA, I regret. The waiting
list is now closed.
Eli Y.




I got this email on a Wednesday, April 9th 2003. On Tuesday the deadlines for admission expired. But my response had to get to the university of my choice by regular mail by that day, so I had to send it by Friday April 11th in order to get to the US by Tuesday. Essentially, I had the day of Thursday, April 10th 2003 to make a decision about my whole future. The decision I would make on that day would probably determine all the rest of my life.

So I went to my drawer where I kept all the admittance letters and scanned through the, quickly to decide where I would want to do my PhD at. I had never looked at them carefully because up until that day I was sure I would the financial aid at UCLA. I didn't have a plan B.

I had 4 offers with financial support: University of Maryland, Ohio State (which has the best Electromagnetics lab around), University of Southern California (USC) and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The last one was the best in terms of academic quality (it ranks just behind MIT, Stanford and Berkeley). I just went to the various websites and looked around... and I thought... USC... Los Angeles... sounds good. I didn't want 7 feet of snow above my head by mid-November like in Michigan.

Fast forward to September of the same year, 2003. Due to my decision on that life-altering Thursday, I was in a welcome committee for new PhD students with all the professors in my department of electrical engineering. I sit next to Tom Katsouleas, one of the professors there.

Tom: "What's yout name?"

Me: "Themos Kallos"

Tom: "Oh, I was looking for you! I thought you would come to see me sometime soon."

Me:"OK, I'll stop by."


So I went by his office were he told me that due to my physics courses I had taken and the excellent recommendation by Hizanides (with whom I had one of the most weird courses ever - on plasma physics). I joined his group soon after, and on the day of my first group meeting a new proposal had just been accepted: about an experiment at Brookhaven's ATF facility. And this is now becoming my PhD thesis.

But now back to Yablonovitch. I had always been curious to see how does this guy look like, how does he talk like, and could I tell why he rejected me at UCLA? And when I saw the poster for his talk here at USC last week I knew I would be the first to attend.

In fact, I went so early that the doors were locked... So I waited a few minutes until the doors opened. And I immediately recognized him: kind of short guy, with some beard and a very very sharp look. There is no question he is smart. But the rest of his posture told another story: the story of the former scientist that is now becoming a businessman. Formal suit, tie, nice shoes, and kind of stiff in his facial expressions. It was exactly the guy I wanted to avoid!

That is a problem with many professors at UCLA. They don't care much about the science anymore, they just want to start a company and make money and become (more) famous. I do not think I like that approach. Katsouleas and Muggli that control our group are vastly different (ok, Katsouleas walks around in a tie but only because he is in committees that will actually help the university - he wants to improve things academically). But Patric walks around in his jeans and he makes informal jokes and he fits loosely in his surroundings. He and Tom care about the science for the sake of science: our group not does care about producing devices - we care about the physics. There will be no commercial application of what we do in the near future - and we frankly don't care! We go for lunch and we discuss relativity and wonder why the speed of light is constant or why have we not communicated with aliens or why Europe is so much better than the US in the quality of life.

Anyway, I am getting too far with this. The bottom line is, when I see Tom talking about our field you see a spark in his eyes, a wish of a young child that wants to play around and learn more and more, and you admire him. You look into Eli's eyes and all you see is a smart person that will do everything to get his product finished. And that is the difference between science and business.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just came back...

... from Lake Tahoe with 6GB of pics and videos. I will post our great adventures soon (which includes one of the funniest moments ever captured on video), but the most important thing is that I came back inspired.

"We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on."
- Richard Feynman

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Paris Hilton, Nintendo Wii and a Tokamak

What could Paris Hilton, Nintendo's new game console and a fusion reactor have in common? Well, they are all in my focus of interest in the past week.

On our way to UCLA with Jessi and Xiaodong


Last Wednesday (that was 10 days ago!) we visited with our plasma class the biggest fusion reactor in the world, the UCLA Tokamak (Tokamak is a type of a fusion machine). Probably the most important application of plasma is fusion, and the guy explaining it was pretty funny about it. He says we walks out of his house every day and looks at the sun of LA and says "How do you do it"? Fusion is simply the process of trying to generate energy in the same way that the sun does, it is exactly the opposite of nuclear fission (were you break an atom apart). In the sun the huge gravity forces the atoms together, while here people try to use huge magnetic fields to confine them.

He said that in the 1950s when fusion was first proposed people said it is a matter of 2-3 years for it to become reality. Then in 5 years they had failed, and they said it may take more like 10 years to achieve. In 15 years they hadn't done it, and they said it may take more like 20 years. And then, 20 years later (which is today) they have failed, and they say they will need more like 50 years to get it. It is not a good growth rate:-)


In front of the UCLA Tokamak:
Still, fusion is really our only hope for our long term energy needs. Oil and carbon will run out in 30-60 years, and then nuclear fission can burn for another 2,000 years. But then Uranium and Plutonium runs out, and we are literally back to the horses, with no energy left to consume.


On the same day it was the half-season finale of Lost. It had me on the edge of my seat for the whole hour; it's just great stuff. Season 3 will continue from February with 16 episodes in a row (they found out viewers were complaining with the reruns). In the meantime, Scott (our undergrad's friend) brought us DVDs of season 2, which we will give to Jessi in exchange with season 1 divx's. That is mainly for Reza in our office to get acquainted with the characters better (by the way, we now print one photo from each episode and put it up on our wall in the office. We will have 24 pictures and a beautiful wallpaper by the end of the year).


On Saturday, me and Dora went to Hollywood. I had read that the premiere of Fountain would take place there. Indeed, we spent about one hour and we got a glimpse of some of the actors, including the leads Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine) and Rachel Weisz. (thank you 12x zoom of Canon S2!).


The red carpets is not such a big deal after all. There is a red carpet laid down (duh!), it is surrounded by metal bars, and behind the bars there are reporters for interviews and photographers. It takes about 45minutes for the lead actors to walk around everybody, along with some other big or small names of the film industry.

We didn't watch the movie itself (it opens officially next week), however I have very high expectations for it. Aronofsky, the director (π, Requiem for a dream), decided to make a sci-fi movie and battle teh biggest problem of all sci-fi movies: that their special and computer effects get outdated very soon (just look at 2001 or the original Star Wars, or even the Matrix: you can tell they are somewhat old).

So he decided to make a sci-fi movie without a single computer generated effect! For example, the frame on the left looks amazing and in completely naturally made. They used a technique called microlensing that they take pictures of very small drops of water that they have dissolved other substances in there. The results are so amazing that the light-years wide nebula on this picture is actually only a few millimeters size in real life! If you take a look at the trailer you'll think it is impossible to create these images without a computer. And yet...




Let's move on. The Victoria's Secret fashion show was to take place today, for the first time in LA, and specifically at the Kodak Theater (home of the Oscars ceremony too).


We actually went there just to watch a movie (Borat), but since we saw people we decided to stay and take a look. We only watched the last 30 minutes of the arrivals, but during that time we did manage to see and take pictures. The two most notable appearances were Dean Kane (former Superman series lead):




...and, to out big surprise, Paris Hilton:


It was a lot of fun! The list of celebrities I've seen here in LA is growing:

Paris Hlton (@ VS Fashion Show Arrivals)
Dean Kane (@ VS Fashion Show Arrivals)
Rachel Weisz (@ The Chinese Theater Premiere of the Fountain)
Hugh Jackman (@ The Chinese Theater Premiere of the Fountain)
Mathew Perry (@ The Cattle, Sunset blvd)
Jessica Alba (@Taverna Tony, Malibu)
Will Smith (@Jay)
William H. Macy (@Jay)
Charles Barkley (@Jay)
Forrest Whittaker (@Huntigton Park)
Shaquille O'Neal (@AMC Movie Thaters)
Tom Hanks (@Agia Sofia)
Carmen Electra (@Jay)
Ralph Fiennes (@Jay)
Harrison Ford (@Jay)
Tony Shalhoud (MIB, Monk, @LAX)
Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Dogville, @Jay)



When we returned back home, we returned to the everyday world of common mortals. I was struggling with the dishes:


and Andrew was confirming his natural state of being:




And how about Nintendo Wii? The Sony PS3 is debuting in the US tomorrow, and the Nintendo Wii on Monday. The Wii does not have the technical specs of the PS3 or Xbox 360, but it is a pure gaming machine, and it costs half the price of PS3. I wrote about the upcoming battle this year before, but when I ask myself "which console would I buy now?" I tend to go for the Wii. Nintendo has a great tradition in home games, and unlike Sony and Microsoft they are not trying to make a computer but rather make a fun machine to play with. The Wii is tiny, it has a revolutionary gyroscopic motion-detecting controller that changes the way we play games, and it also has the Legend of Zelda! At $299, can it win the next-gen console race? I believe so.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nature, at last

So out group finally got a publication in the most prestigious scientific journal Nature. I am not personally involved in this experiment, but almost one year ago I wrote about how using plasma accelerators they managed to accelerate electrons by 15GeV, the fastest electrons so far from a plasma accelerator. They didn't publish the result; instead they went back, increased the length of the plasma and got some more data. Then they managed to double the energy of the 3,000m long SLAC accelerator in just 1m of plasma (from 42GeV to 85GeV).

They sent the paper to Nature, and after disagreements among the first two referees it went to a third one who finally also approved it. It should appear in the journal soon.

Although out group has published in the News & Views and in the Brief Communications (single page) of Nature, in is the first time it will appear in the letters section. Great job, guys!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Saturn Solar Eclipse

It is a very cool picture... When the Cassini spacecraft (on its way out of the solar system) looked back at Saturn, it got a picture at a point where Saturn was eclipsing the Sun. That is one of the best (and amazing in conception) pictures ever. I don't think a total eclipse from another planet has ever been recorded.



And imagine that I found that in a celebrity forum.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Philadelphia Impressions








View from the Art Museum, aka Rocky's steps:



Every time I takeoff, I still find it hard to believe that airplanes do actually fly. I feel the acceleration, I feel the speed, and then slowly the plane leaves the ground and rises in the air. It feels impossible, despite the fact that I know Bernoulli’s equations and that the shape of the airplane wings is such that air moves faster on the bottom side, thereby applying more pressure that the top side and thus lifting the plane up.

Anyways.


The conference was much different than any previous one. I guess that the most important item was Chan Joshi’s award of the Maxwell Prize. This is a huge award, equivalent to the Nobel Prize for plasma physics. He is the same guy that wrote that Scientific American article on plasma accelerators a few months ago. Although John Dawson, the theoretical father of the field proposed in the 1970s the techniques that are now performed every day to accelerate particles using plasmas, Joshi was the first guy to experimentally discover them. In fact, the first few attempts to perform plasma acceleration had failed, and many people had moved out of the field. Joshi insisted that the techniques could indeed work, and eventually he succeeded in the late 1980s. Since then many many group came back to work those aspects, and I am one of the PhD students working on them too. Katsouleas (my advisor) worked with Joshi while at UCLA until the early 1990s, and he admitted me in 2003. I guess that I wouldn’t be here now on this flight if it weren’t for Joshi (that thought only scares the hell out of me).


There was a reception on Wednesday for him, unofficial, just for the “close” friends. Many people wanted to speak out and talk about Joshi and his character, including my advisor Tom who came just for this day only to talk about Joshi and his “Hollywood” moments. His wife and family were there also, and his wife in particular made for him a nice painting where she included 3 leaves that she had picked years ago when they went with Joshi in England and he pointed out at some place that “this is Newton’s appletree”. Then the conference banquet followed where they awarded him the prize in front of the whole plasma physics community. For us, young scientists of the field, these are the most inspiring moments you can get, imagining yourself being recognized from your own community. I have here a few minute video with some of the moments of that day.





Then there was Francis Chen. The guy is a legend in the plasma community, as he has written the best entry-level textbook on plasma physics and also he was the first student to get 1GeV energy particles, back at Brookhaven Lab. We told us a story on how one evening he was late at the accelerator lab and as he was high up gazing the machines, he saw a poor man moving lead bricks around to shield the machine (lead blocks the harmful x-rays produced all the time). He talks to him: "May I help you with the bricks, professor Fermi?"


Picture with the legend:



The poster sessions were most interesting. I helped and was helped from other people, mainly on the plasma side of my work, and I learned a lot of new plasma stuff. I still can’t help feeling stupid when I watch what all these other guys are working on for which I have no idea about.

It is impossible to still realize that 90% of the talks are presented in a very crappy way. People just don’t know how to do a proper presentation. In the last talk in the last day of my session, the guy’s first slide (after the names) was a maze of equations, pictures, explanations, graphs, approximations. Useless! How can you expect people to follow that? I just left the room immediately. On the other hand, the most interesting talk seemed to be the one on Antihydrogen, which I mentioned earlier. Joshi gave a great review of plasma accelerators too. If a presentation is properly structured, you don’t need to know the field in order to understand the material.

Now let’s move on to the city.



Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the US, but it is by far my least favorite. I was unpleasantly surprised. Although the downtown area (which the locals call “center city” for whatever reason) is kind of nice, with European style streets and buildings, I could never get rid of the feeling that I was not safe. I never felt relaxed like walking in a promenade or busy street, even around the university area (which we visited on Halloween night to watch Saw III). Maybe it has to do with the 50% of black people that live there; maybe with the fact that most of the non-downtown areas are severely under-funded (as one of the local that we chatted with promptly explained to us when I asked her why is the population constantly declining in the past 20 years).


As an east coast city it has many old buildings and “historic” (for American standards) places. The first US government was formed here and also the declaration of Independence from the British Empire was signed here. The most popular item is the “liberty bell”, a bell that is correlated with the declaration since it rang when the declaration was first read to the public on July 8th of the independence year (it also has a very famous crack). However for a non-American all these places are not THAT interesting after all.

Here are some insider tips: Walnut and Chestnut streets have very nice shops and restaurants. We ate at Moriartys (an Irish restaurant pub/bar) located at Walnut and 11th, very close to the theaters there. On 12th and Arch streets (just two blocks below Chestnut), right below the convention center there is a great lunch place, Farmer’s Market style, that serves all kinds of food (and it’s pretty good too). I had one of the best crepes there this morning before we left. The other interesting thing was the Art Museum.

Philadelphia is home of Rocky and the Rocky movies. He is supposed to be from South Philadelphia. Remember the famous scene where he wakes up at dawn, eats 5 raw eggs in a glass and then goes out to run in the streets, up until some stairs from where all Philadelphia can be viewed? These stairs are the Art Museum stairs, and many people go there and climb them as a reminder of his movies. There’s also a statue of his nearby (the one that was used in Rocky III I believe).

The Museum itself is the 3rd largest art museum in the country, I am guessing after New York's Metropolitan (check) and Chicago's (check). Although they do have some decent impressionist paintings (which has now become my second favorite item in a museum), the modern section is not that great (which is my favorite section in every museum!). What is great are the whole rooms that they have transformed into places from other ages.

For example, there is an impossibly perfect 1600s Japanese Tea house (brought directly from Japan). The whole thing is built inside a museum room. When I walked in, I was awed since I felt I was teleported to Japan for a few minutes. Everything looked original and real (because it was real!). They did the similar transformation by building 100% an Indian temple and a French 1100s middle age monastery. Also, along these lines, in many places instead of modern doors they had installed original archways from that age. The whole impression was simply astonishing.

Overall, Philadelphia is not a family oriented city (like Boston), it isn’t nearly as vibrant as New York or Chicago, it doesn’t have LA’s carelessness, it doesn’t have Miami’s vide and party atmosphere. We had a great time with our group, we bonded better, we learned a lot, and most importantly we got inspired by Joshi’s paradigm for the future.



Finally I show here a video of two things. First, right after the nominations at the conference banquet it was 9:20pm (on a Wednesday night) , so me and Erdem ran at out nearby hotel in order to catch Lost! In addition, I have my running along the Rocky steps (along with original footage from the movie). Enjoy!




Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We are at slashdot!

Remember in the previous post where I mentioned that I was sleeping from 8-9am and lost the first talk of the conference? Well, the presentation on that hour made it at slashdot!

http://science.slashdot.org/science/06/10/31/2256209.shtml

"Pictures of the fastest waves ever photographed, traveling at 99.997% of the speed of light, were presented today at the APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Philadelphia. The waves were formed in the wake of an intense laser pulse passing through a plasma of electrons and ionized atoms. The waves create enormous electric fields (over 100 billion electron volts/meter), which can be used to rapidly accelerate charged particles to high energies in the span of a few meters. The pictures will help scientists better understand wakefield interactions — an important factor in their quest to replace machines that accelerate particles over the course of miles with compact, tabletop versions. High energy particle accelerators are vital for cutting edge physics and many types of medical therapy, and miniaturizing them would be a boon for both basic physics research and medicine."

Actually, these pictures were presented at the AAC conference that I also attended last July. It was in fact my most favorite talk at the time. Downer is the name of the guy (from Texas).

Conference Impressions

Second day here at the APS. A guy is talking right now on MHD (MagnetoHydroDynamic) Turbulence. It is nice that they have wireless in every room, although it is quite choppy.

Yesterday although we tried to wake up early, we arrived at the conference at 9am (this is 6am in LA time...). We missed the review talk but we went by the poster section. I asked about and learned about Stellarators with weird coils (it is a device that people hope will achieve fusion one day), and also about MRI (not Magnetic Resonance Imagining, here in plasma people it means Magnetic Reconnection Instability). Magnetic reconnection happens when two magnetic field lines merge into a single one. It offers an explanation on the way that sun creates its solar wind from what I read in an earlier Scientific American article. It also affects the rotation of accretion discs which is right now a very popular topic in physics (unexplained fully). So MRI happens when a magnetic field seperates a fluid elemement (it can be anything from water to stars) radially, and once that happens each element moves at a different speed and they seperate even more. This is one explanation of the formation of the rotation in these discs. (Note that the out element moves faster and the inner element moves slower as is the case with every rotating item).

Today we saw an exciting talk on AntiHydrogen. A guy named Gabrielse, excellent speaker started by showing us how Dan Brown's Angels and Deamons tremendously affected negatively his field (as The Da VInci Code screwed up the catholic church). In the book some guy goes an steals antimatter from the heart of CERN and decides to use it to blow up the Vatican (antimatter explodes when in contact with normal matter). However Brown failed to mention that all the antimatter produced in all history can barely boil a cup of tea...



So Gabrielse explained how they have created antiprorons and positrons (generated at CERN),
and then they have to cool them down and merge them together to produce cold (slow moving)
antihydrogen. They could create "warm" (fast-moving) antihydrogen but then it's not very easy to use it for something. Anyway they are at a point now where they can create several cold atoms but only at excited states, i.e. the positron is not orbiting the anti-nucleus at the lower (closer to the antiproton) state. Eventually we will be able to create antimolecules. Now they just want to compare properties of the normal atom and the anti-atom to verify (or disprove) the Standard Model of physics. It is a very exciting field I believe.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

High Definition Future, on the plane



Sunday, October 29, 2006 ad.



 



We are onboard Southwest flight 110 from Los
Angeles
to Philadelphia, the former US
capital.. Me, Reza and Erdem travel together from our group and we will all
visit the conference on Plasma Physics.



 



I brought many magazines with me for this transcontinental
flight. Wired, Scientific American, PC Magazine, Discover, Time, and Physics Today.
Plus a gameboy (it’s also for the way back).



 



Southwest is a slightly different airline. There are huge
lines because a lot of people travel with them since they are very cheap. My
biggest surprise is that they do not have assigned seating… you just get a
boarding pass with the name and the flight number. Once you get there at the
gate you have to get in the line early in order to get in first(!). Once
inside, instead of walking past us with the tray of drinks and asking what
would we like to drink, they instead have a restaurant-style service system
where the waitress (sorry, stewardess) comes by with a pen and paper and asks
what you want to have, and after they go through all the passengers they bring
everyone what they ask for. Interesting approach.



 



I watched another great movie last Friday. The Last King of
Scotland, it is about Uganda’s
President/Dictator during the 1970’s, Amin, who eventually killed over 300,000
people during his 9 year reign. Forest Whittaker is perfect as Amin, he looks
and talks exactly like him. He gave the performance of his career and it is the
best male performance I have seen this year. He will be nominated for an Oscar
for sure and he may as well win since he just stands out.



The movie itself is very strong. It is a story of a
fictional Scottish doctor that goes to Uganda and serves as the personal
doctor of Amin. At the beginning he looks nice and funny and welcoming. But as
the movie progresses, the doctor (and us as the audience) begins to discover
the real face of Amin. The movie’s climax is brutal and gruesome, it had me
shaking as I was leaving the theater. It was not for kids, but I felt cleansed
and shocked afterwards. It was good.



 



(Reza says we are flying over the Grand
Canyon
right now. This place and Hawaii
are the two places I have to visit before I leave the US).



 



But non of this is the main item I wanted to talk about
today. The main thing I wanted to talk about is the war on the next high
definition picture format, between Blue-ray discs and HD-DVD discs. It is
connected with the war between Sony’s PS3 (due to come out in US stores on Nov
17 this year) and X-Box 360. It is also connected with Amazon’s and Apple’s new
movie download services, and also with DVD-renting giant Netflix, which may
well make a move that will win them all at the end. I have to combine facts and
arguments from all this fields at the same time in order to present a picture of
what’s coming up. 2007 will be the year that winners and losers on these war
fronts will be decided. We had a lot of discussions with my housemate Andrew
and the guys at the office regarding these matters, and also I read a lot on
the web and on various blogs.



But let’s start with the high-def wars. As you might have
known, TV is getting a boost, similar to the boost that it got a few decades
ago when wee switched from black-and-white TV to color TV. Now every TV display
is in color. What is happening now is that people will eventually switch to
high-definition picture – it’s TV units and TV signals that have at least twice
the resolution of the current normal TV stations. They allow for better,
clearer picture and larger screens.



 



There are two aspects that have to change.  First, new TV displays have to be introduced
that support high-def resolutions. That is easier for some reason, since even
this year flat screen sales surpassed CRT screen sales. And these TVs are
mostly capable for the high-def picture. But the most important aspect is the
medium and the signal that has to convert in high-def. There are two main
options here: TV signals can be transmitted in high-def (HD), or HD can be
stored in discs. Most main TV stations in the US
and Japan
are already transmitting HD. Europe is kind if lagging behind but they’ll get
there soon enough.



 



We have HD in my home in the US. It is a vast difference over
normal TV. It has 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, 5.1 digital sound, and clear,
vibrant colors. We get the signal from TV stations, were most shows are now
filmed in HD. But the real war is happening in the home movies, where two
different formats are fighting to be the successors of the DVD. They are the
Blue-Ray disc and the HD-DVD discs. Blue-Ray is supported by Sony, Dell and
some other big guys. That means that apart from standalone players, Blue-Ray
discs can/will be found in Sony’s Playstation 3 and Dell’s laptops. HD-DVD is
supported by Toshiba, Microsoft, and several other big film studios. Almost
every other non-dell/sony laptop will have an HD-DVD, as well as Microsoft’s
Xbox 360 (as an add-on – PS3 has it built in).



 



Right now different movies come out in different types of
formats! Either Blue-Ray or HD-DVD. Also, there are two different types of players,
with the cheapest Blue-Ray costing $1,000 and the cheapest HD-DVD costing only
$400. The question is, who is going to survive? Is this format war good for the
people? Definitely not. People now are confused and the sales of the HD media
are nor very strong. Personally I prefer the new media for the storage space
they offer, up to 50GB for the Blue-Ray. I think I will buy for my computer the
first HD recorder that will be below $300-$500. Of course, I don’t think that’s
happening for a while, so what about now, and what about next year?



 



The situation is complicated from the Next-Generation
consoles that Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony are selling this year. Xbox 360 came
out last year and it is doing fairly well. The games support HD resolutions,
and Microsoft just announced an extra HD-DVD drive that can be added on. The
console sells at $400 and the extra player at $300 (or $200?).  Now, Sony PS3 will be released in 3 weeks,
and it will have a build-in Blue-ray drive. The total price is $600, and if you
remember that the cheapest Blue-Ray drive sells for $1,000, it simply means
that Sony will be losing money every time they sell a PS3. They are hoping to
win them back from game and movie sales. Right now analysts are unsure whether
the PS3 may bring Sony’s death (they announced 95% drop in sales this year) or
resurrection. Sony is obviously counting on the fact that people will buy the
console just for the drive only, but will it become true?



 



Since the drive will be used for HD movies, what about other
movie options out there? Apart from the classic video-store rentals, Netflix
has surfaced as a giant that they ship over 1,000,000 DVDs a day (!!!) to home
as a mail-in rental company. Also, about the same time Amazon unveiled Unbox
and Apple unveiled iTunes movie store, which are the biggest players in renting
and downloading movies online. You just pay the fee and you get TV episodes and
movie downloads right onto your hard drive for watching. They do not offer HD
yet, but rather DVD quality movies. However sooner or later they will add HD
too.



 



So as you realize there is an initiative to bring more
content easier into the homes, and this content will eventually be all HD. Who
will win?



 



Another alternative that one has to consider is the rumors
about Netflix’s set-top box. This is just a box with internet-in and
video/audio-out, that sits on the living room and downloads movies over the net
overnight. Instead of mailing in envelopes or going to the video store, you
just order from your couch the movie you wish to watch! Of course, cable and
satellite TV offer this option on demand right now, but they charge per movie
viewing (pay-per-view) for something you will watch once and never use again.
Netflix charges a flat fee and you have unlimited movies (only a certain number
at t time though). People seem to prefer the flat fee plan better.



 



Now, what if Netflix releases this set-top box in a cheap
price that can also download HD movies? Essentially they are saying: why bother
with media and format wars? Screw Playstation and HD-DVD. Just get our box and
for a flat fee you can download HD movies without bothering to buy either a
player or a disc! In that way people won’t be confused with making a choice
since only a single option will be presented. This will also allows the
download of movies everywhere on the world, not limited to the US or
whichever region.



 



What is the final remark here? It is that eventually people
will get everything over the net. ABC and NBC TV shows are now available online
for free in excellent quality just a few hours after the premier. I think in a
few years, we will need nothing other than the net. Give me a strong internet
connection and I will give you phone, TV, movies, music, everything. This kind
of makes sense: a single provider through a single medium will sell all these
services, rather than today’s model where everyone is on a different channel.
Since almost everyone (and the TV at last!) is now digital, all these data can
be transmitted over the internet.



 



The bottom line is, media may become obsolete in the next
5-10 years. All we will ever need again is a good internet connection. The rest
is just software.



 



 



 



That’s enough for now. I will switch to reading my magazines
and get back from Philadelphia.



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 





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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Philadelphia

New conference coming up this next week... it's in Philadelphia. American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics. I have to prepare a poster now, it is the first time that I haven't prepared anything in advance, but that;s because we were still taking data until yesterday with Jessica.

Finally I will try the original Phillie Cheese Steak!


Philly skyline

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