Friday, March 30, 2012

Punk Rock Friday - To Save my Soul

I am having a crappy day.  LBS was a terror this morning - fighting about what pants to wear - even though he picked them out.  Same thing every day this week. I am really just done with dealing with.  Beautiful Wife is under a galaxy-load of stress from work and was not a pleasant women this morning.  This irked me more than usual and we fought.  I was a complete jerk - she reciprocated my kindness.  I only got about 5 hours of sleep - I was working until midnight just like I have every night this week.  I am tired, drained, and feeling a bit thin in the soul.  I feel simultaneously like I need a good stiff whiskey, a gallon of coffee, and twenty nights worth of sleep.

So to try and soothe my soul a bit I thought I would pull Punk Rock Friday out of the dusty corner I put it in.  Here we go:

Ducky Boys - For the Underdogs:

Flogging Molly - The Worst Day Since Yesterday:

Dropkick Murphys - Bar Room Hero:

Rancid - Fall Back Down:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Great Irish Physicists and Scientists - Redux

Note this was originally posted 3/17/2011. Here is the original link: Great Irish Physicists and Scientists

In honor of St. Patrick's Day (my favorite holiday), I thought I would compile a list of great Irish physicists and scientists.  I will focus on physicists but will include a few other scientists for good measure.  Greatness and therefore inclusion in this list will be measured by me simply by my opinion.  How's is that for scientific!
George FitzGerald

His claim to fame is the FitzGerald-Lorentz length contraction - the decrease of the length of an objection (along the direction of motion) with non-zero velocity relative to an observer.  This is an important result of Einstein's special theory of relativity.  Born in Dublin, he was a professor at Trinity College.

Stoney, from County Offaly, is the man who introduced both the concept and the word "electron" for the fundamental unit of electricity.  Also a professor at Trinity College.
Ernest Walton
Walton is credited to be the first person to (artificially) split an atom and therefore ushered in the nuclear age.  He was a student of Rutherford at the Cavendish lab at Cambridge. Went on to a professorship also at Trinity college.  He won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Sir John Douglas Cockcroft "for their pioneer work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles."  Currently the only Irishman to have won a Nobel Prize in science.

Frederick Trouton 
Trouton is most famous for Trouton's rule, which states that for various liquids, the entropy of vaporization is same: approximately 88 J/(K mol).  Trouton's rule is typically used to estimate the entropy of vaporization for liquids due to its simple form.  Trouton, born in Dublin, studied physics at Trinity College, where he also received his first academic appointment upon graduation.  He went on to a professorship at Imperial College London.

Sir George Stokes
James Hamilton
Hamilton, born in Sligo, was an early contributor to S-matrix theory.  He went on to make significant contribution to the understanding of the strong nuclear force, specifically in the area of meson-nucleon and meson-meson interactions.  Hamilton held appointments at Cambridge, University College London and the Neils Bohr Institute.

Sir George Stokes
Yes, he is that Stokes - from Navier-Stokes equations (fluid dynamics) and Stokes' Theorem (differential geometry).  Born in Sligo, Stokes was a professor of mathematics at Cambridge.  A contemporary of Lord Kelvin and James Maxwell, Stokes made significant contributions to a variety of fields, including mathematics, fluid dynamics, optics, spectroscopy and chemistry.

Thomson, born in Belfast, was knighted by Queen Victoria was later elevated to Baron Kelvin of Lorgs and is best known as Lord Kelvin. He made major contributions to astrophysics, fluid dynamics, naval engineering, but he is most known for his contributions to thermodynamics, specifically that there is a lower bound to temperature.  The kelvin scale of temperature is named after Thomson.
Aha!  And you thought he was Austrian.  Well he was, but he was also a naturalized citizen of Ireland.  Schrödinger, famous for his contributions to quantum mechanics (hence the Schrödinger equation) and is in fact considered one of the "fathers" of quantum mechanics.  Schrödinger became a naturalized citizen of Ireland during his 17 years in Dublin, during which he helped to establish the Institute for Advanced Studies and was the Director of the School of Theoretical Physics.

Yes, the father of modern chemistry was indeed Irish.  Boyle was born in Waterford County.  He is most famous for Boyle's Law, which says that for a closed system at constant temperature, the pressure is inversely proportional to the volume.  This is something that every high school kid taking chemistry is well aware of.

I am sure there are plenty of others.  Sorry to anyone I have missed!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day! Fun and Facts about Pi

Pi - you know it from all those boring math classes you had to take in school... But Pi is actually much cooler than math class.  Did you know that?  Also, today, March 14 is international Pi day!  No, not pie.  Though I think it is perfectly okay to celebrate Pi day with pie.

Why is it Pi day?  Well, simply because March 14 or 3/14 is the first three digits in the number Pi.  Technically, Pi day starts at 1:59 pm (since the next three digits after 3.14 is 159 [making the first 6 digits 3.14159]).

So, what is Pi?

Pi is simply defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle (technically a Euclidean circle - circumference is simply the length around the circle) to its diameter.  Remember diameter is just the straight line distance across a circle through its center.  Said less mathy - Pi is the number of times the diameter of a circle will wrap around the circumference.

Pi is also an irrational number.  That simply means it cannot be expressed as a simple fraction (like 22/7 for instance).  Therefore, when you write Pi as a decimal it never ends and it never repeats.  Crazy right?  It just keeps going on forever.

Some interesting facts about Pi:

  • Albert Einstein was born on Pi day - 3/14/1879
  • Pi has been studied for over 4000 years dating back to the Babylonians in approximated 2000 BC
  • Beginning at position 762 in Pi, there are six nines in a row.  This is called the Feynman point.
  • In 1897, the Indiana State Legislature tried to "square the circle," and therefore legislate the value of pi.
  • Pi occurs extensively in Physics (and other sciences) especially when a formula or problem has rotational or spherical symmetry involved.
Well, I am going to go and find out where I am going to eat pie for lunch today.  I am suddenly very hungry.  I leave you with a math joke:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Break - not so much of a break

No, I actually didn't give any homework.  But they have a midterm the first class after spring break! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

So, I am on Spring Break this week from teaching.  Yeah, it just is not as cool as it was when I was a student.  I never went anywhere warm (I was a poor punk rock kid in college), but I had a week off of classes where all I had to do was work my 3 jobs.  I could catch up on sleep, go out drinking every night (well that wasn't much of a change) - basically just screw around more than normal.

As a professor... now my spring break consists of catching up on all the work I put off because it could wait until spring break, grading all those things I need to grade, tracking down students who are failing, finishing up research projects that get left half finished, finishing up proposals that are due soon, and falling asleep earlier than expected... E X C I T I N G, right?

Teaching has also taught me a lot about statistics.  I have just under 400 students in my lecture.  With 400 students you basically get the full range of types of humans.  Every crazy little nuance in the human character is likely to be present.  And they all come to me with their problems regarding this class... because, well, I am in charge am I not?

So far during this semester I have had:
-students cry during my quizzes and exams (yes, more than one...)
-a student try to cyberbully me by email (it was truly hilarious)
-students asking to stay in my class while in jail
-students try to get me to get them jobs... (WTH... you know me 6 weeks and you want me to try and pull string for you?????)

And you want to know the most frustrating part of it all - I have to act like an adult.  I have to follow the rules.  I have to be the one to do the right thing concerning it every time.  It takes so much more work to be stuck being the mature, responsible one in the student-teacher relationship.  Annoying.

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