Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Do I Study Physics?

Hey, do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many, many millions of years ago, in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings. Until eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one [you]. And there will never be another. Getting rid of that existence isn't a sacrifice. It is a waste.
- The Doctor

There's so much beauty in the clockwork of the universe, that I wonder why more people don't just stop rushing through their lives and take a look around.  We exist and tick along only because certain constants are fixed at certain values, certain fundamental interactions have certain strengths, and certain events took place at certain points in space-time.  If any of these were even slightly altered, the universe would be very different!  

For instance, if gravity were stronger, stellar interiors would be hotter than they are now.  There's a chance that stars would burn out too soon for life to develop. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, there would be no clumped matter, and therefore, no us.

The beauty of the complex grid of laws that dictate our universe is precisely why I study physics.  

This video explains it wonderfully:

Why Do I Study Physics? (2013) from Xiangjun Shi on Vimeo.

If you want more proof of how glorious physics is, read physicist Richard Feynman's autobiographical Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and be inspired!

Friday, October 25, 2013

FF - 5 Sexy Bookish Links

You know what's sexy? I mean downright ye gods giggity sexy? Bookshelves. And notebooks. Hell yes.

It is no secret that I have a notebook collection.  Here are some pictures of it.

I apologise for the poor picture quality.  I don't apologise for making you feel like a muggle compared to the awesomeness that is a notebook collection on friggin display!

And yes, that's the 11th Doctor's sonic screwdriver on my shelf. Along with a Wheel of Time card deck. And a dagger.

If you're into books and libraries and shelves and notebooks and awesomeness the way I am, check these out:

1. Bookshelf Porn
2. Letternote - (I have three of their notebooks)
3. Bookcase Porn
4. Lifehacker article on the best paper notebooks
5. 62 of the World's Most Beautiful Libraries

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Diet Based on Blood Type?

It's been brought to my attention that a diet based on blood type is becoming a popular trend. Reading about health is a new obsession of mine, and the thought that blood type affects one's health seemed logical -- even believable.
Intrigued, I looked it up.

These articles pretty much sum up the diet:

The claims seemed fairly plausible, so I decided to take a look at food charts like this one, to see which foods have been labelled as 'helpful' or 'harmful' for different blood types.  I'm an O+.

My research on the topic hasn't dug up any extensive scientific studies to validate these tables.  As far as I'm concerned, this is a glaring turn-off. I've actually been skeptical about this diet ever since I read that cinnamon is harmful for type O. Cinnamon has a lot of healing properties and has been used in Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, home remedies, and other areas of alternative medicine for a long time.  Considering that type O is the most common blood type, wouldn't the use of cinnamon have been observed to be adverse, or at the very least ineffective? It wouldn't be such a common healer. That in itself sets off the alarm bells in my head.  While I do feel that blood type logically makes at least a bit of difference to one's diet (and I've already implemented a couple of minor cautions), I feel more thorough research absolutely needs to be done.

For those of you who want to follow this diet, I suggest you make sure you're not leaving out essential nutrients (eg: calcium in dairy) in your eating regime. And take what you read with a pinch of salt.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nerding Out

So, a good friend of mine went to CERN and I gave him instructions to kiss ALICE for me. ALICE is one of the four LHC experiments, and I've had the privilege to work with the ALICE group for a year in Kolkata, India. Unfortunately, while I've met many people from CERN and interacted with them through video/voice e-meetings, I never did get to visit!

He sent me this:

This, ladies and gentlemen, is ALICE.  She's bloody beautiful.