And behold, the Australian in America arises from the grave!

Ok, so I’ve been terrible about this blog, and I doubt anybody actually even checks it anymore. But, I’m going to England for three weeks, and I figure I might as well write about it. I might even take a few photos. Alas, I won’t be able to upload photos until I get home, but I’m sure you’ll understand.

Perhaps you’ll hear from me soon. If I remember…

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Remember you have a blog?

Has it been almost a year since I last posted here? How terrible of me. Life has been, well, busy, and I don’t really have much to say here for the moment. However, I did just add a blueberry muffin recipe to my recipe list, so I figure I should say something, right?

I hope all is well, wherever you’re reading from.

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Do the important things in life (Earthquake!)

I can now check off another thing on my “list of things to do in life”: experience an earthquake. At about 1.54 today, I was on the 4th floor of the Physical Sciences Building, working diligently in my office, when the entire building began to sway back and forth. It felt like somebody was doing something incredibly forceful down in the basement. It wasn’t particularly violent shaking; the frequency was probably two Hertz or so. However, it was quite impressive for the building to be shaking that much. I’d estimate an amplitude of 5-10 cm and a gaussian envelope with FWHM of 8 seconds. Truly, a building should not shake like that. Indeed, it turns out that there was a magnitude 5.9 earthquake down in Virginia, about 400 miles away. It took the tremor 2-3 minutes to propagate through to up here (yay, physics in action!).

Here’s a seismology report on the quake. The earthquake was quite shallow; estimated at about 6 km. Apparently this means that there is a high probability of multiple aftershocks; indeed, as I write this, there are aftershocks of magnitude 3.4, 4.2, and 2.8 in the Virginia area, as well as a few more under 2.5 that weren’t registering on the list I saw. I didn’t feel any of these aftershocks however.

Otherwise, I know I’ve been a bad blogger… I’ve been doing a lot of work with my physics, which has been good. I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere, while for most of this year, I’ve been kind of floundering. The hope is to have another research paper out sometime soon. For those of you who know some physics, I’m going to be claiming that the esteemed Steven Weinberg got something wrong, which is quite a statement. (It’s only appropriate however; Weinberg got his Bachelor’s degree at Cornell ;-)). I’ll try to post a little more regularly, but don’t hold your breath.

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Lakeside frivolities

No, they haven’t happened yet. But they will happen. Assuming I can get somebody, anybody to come with me? For some reason, I’ve only heard back from a couple of the friends who I emailed, and all those who have replied said they couldn’t make it. Very sad. We’ll see what happens.

Otherwise, I had dinner with Ekaterin yesterday evening. It was good to catch up on our two and a bit weeks 🙂 My mum is setting up a psychology practice in Canberra. She’s trying to get together a brochure, letterhead, business card and website. The cost of paying somebody else to do so is fairly exhorbitant, so I’ve been helping out. Last night, we essentially finalised the brochure, letterhead and business card, after much arguing with Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Publisher. I think they look pretty good now. I’ve been working on and off on the website for a bit now; hopefully we’ll be able to finalise that this weekend.

Today, I’ve been grappling with a research problem. I think I’ve boiled it down to its essential components, and now I need to figure out a way of understanding exactly how it works.

Otherwise, here is your link for today. This is a comic that I read every now and again. In this particular strip, the author is commenting on something that has annoyed me with US politics, raises a couple of salient points, and delivers a nice satirical punchline 🙂

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Back in Ithaca

My workshop is over now, and I’m back in Ithaca. Back to work, trying to get a big long list of things done. I haven’t managed to get back into my exercising swing yet, which is frustrating me a bit; I’m staying up too late working on a variety of stuff. I did go dancing with Ekaterin this morning though, which was wonderful. I’ve missed dancing. The only real excitement up here is that I plan to swim across Cayuga lake on Saturday (about a third of a mile across). I’m going to bring some friends along in canoes for my lifeguards 🙂 I’m looking forward to it.

I know I’ve been pretty terrible about writing stuff here (one post for all of July? Ugh!), so I’m going to try and just make short posts, rather than my usual tendency to ramble on forever. I also have a bunch of stuff I want to share with people, so expect some links incoming. Today’s link is to a picture of the sun. Sounds boring? Couldn’t be more wrong. This picture is awesome!

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Go to the Beach

Alas, I have been lax in posting here these past few weeks. Honestly, there hasn’t been all that much to about. For the first half of July, my life was dominated by physics and exercise, in the form of running, swimming and yoga. Really, nothing interesting, although I did have a lovely picnic with Ekaterin one evening.

This past week, however, has been quite different. It’s just been dominated by physics. I’m in Princeton at the moment, for the Prospects in Theoretical Physics workshop, which is essentially a summer school on cosmology for graduate students. I’ve met a number of people here which has been nice, and learnt a lot too. We’ve been given homework that we’re not expected to complete all of; I spent every night this past week staying up until midnight working on the problems. So, dominated by physics.

Yesterday was Saturday, and I took the opportunity to sleep in and take the day off. I did some laundry and went out to dinner, and that was about the extent of my day. Today, I went to the beach. For some reason, nobody else wanted to come with me, so I went alone. I drove about an hour East to Ocean Grove/Asbury Park. It was a beautiful day for the beach, and I made sure to buy some suncream before hiting the sand. Things were a little different at this beach than I’m used to, coming from Australia. Firstly, you needed to pay to get on the beach – you had to buy a badge for $6 before they’d let you on. Secondly, the water was really flat. Flat enough to do laps (which I did a bit of). There was a little bit of waves right in near the shore, and I attempted to remember how to body surf there, but really, nothing to write home about. Only to blog about 😉 I spent about two hours in the water, came out and got lunch, waited for my food to digest for a bit, and then spent another hour and a half in the water. I remembered to reapply suncream after lunch, but I apaprently was a little careless in the application, and my shoulders are a little burnt. That’s ok – it’s the first time I’ve been sunburnt in five years. I’m sure my skin appreciates the vitamin D, regardless.

I’m unexpectedly tired out from my day at the beach, so I think it will be an early night tonight. The workshop continues for the coming week; I’ll leave for home on Saturday. I expect to be kept busy again, so don’t hold your breath for another post any time soon.

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Post a quick post

Just a quick post tonight. Yesterday was yoga in the morning. It was intense, and I may have been a little overambitious in one of the strange poses, and did something that wasn’t so good for my back. I spent the evening talking to Seri, which was lovely.

This morning, I got to the pool nice and bright and early, and did my mile, finally! It took about 41 minutes. We’ll see if I can beat that on Wednesday 🙂 Rest of the day was good and productive. I got to the chiropractor, who straightened me out a fair bit (it’s no longer painful, is the most important part!). In the evening, I went dancing with Ekaterin, which was lovely. She’s teaching me Waltz and Quickstep; I’m teaching her West Coast Swing.

A paper came out on the arXiv tonight that was stupid and wrong and cited my supervisor’s paper and disagreed with it because they didn’t know what they were talking about. This annoyed me somewhat, and is the only reason I’m still awake now, because I spent about half an hour constructing a nice long email to them explaining exactly how and why they were wrong. I felt that I should be standing up for my supervisor’s paper. It was a very pretty paper, and moreover, it was correct 🙂 (The arXiv is a website where physics papers are put before they’re published, basically so that everyone can see what’s happening as soon as it happens, rather than when the slow publication process is finished)

Otherwise, bed now. Yoga at 7 am tomorrow. I’m looking forward to group meeting tomorrow, too. I’ve got lots to talk about 🙂

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Sleep In!

Today, I slept in. It felt rather nice to sleep through the morning, rather than getting up at 8 am to expend all the precious energy that my body recovered over the past eight hours by going to the pool 🙂

There’s some exciting news today. Firstly, we have New York legalising gay marriage (see here, for example).

Secondly, the physics department has decided to award me with a fellowship to cover my final semester at Cornell. Apparently there’s a fellowship for 5th year international students, and my advisor argued my case 🙂 I had no idea it existed until this morning.

Otherwise, my research work continues apace, and yesterday I managed to pull out the charged black hole version of the diagram I posted yesterday. Well, I don’t have the diagram itself yet; it’s a bit harder to derive and I haven’t yet figured all the details out, but I have the embedding of the green lines (or their equivalent), which I was rather proud to find. I plan to do a few more calculations over the weekend to pull out the desired details, and then start writing 🙂

The rest of the day was fairly uninteresting. I did some shopping, cooked dinner, had a relaxing evening, and caught up with Ifni. Tomorrow morning is yoga, which I’m looking forward to after giving my body a thorough workout with swimming all week.

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Finish up a week of swimming

I got up early this morning, earlier than usual, with the aim of getting to the pool a little earlier than before, and shooting for the 70 lap mile. Alas, it was raining this morning, so instead of biking in, I walked with an umbrella, and was only there five minutes or so earlier than I have been getting there. Nevertheless, I dived in and started my laps. At about the halfway mark, I realised that I was going to be on quite a time crunch, and started timing my laps. It turned out that I could do two laps every minute, but even that was going to bring me up a little short… After twenty laps of freestyle, another ten of backstroke, ten more of freestyle, and ten of breaststroke, I’d reached 50, and I had about eight minutes to go before the pool closed. Flagging by now, I started swimming two freestyle, two breaststroke and alternating, without pausing for a break between laps. Thus, I made it to 66 laps before being asked to leave… Grumble. If you’d let me have two more minutes, I could have swum my mile!

So, this week, we have 20+30+50+46+66 laps, for a grand total of 212 laps, or about 4.75 km. That’s further than I’ve swum in the past nine years combined, I’m sure. Next week, I’m going to shoot for a mile each swim, but I think I’ll only go Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Expending so much energy in the morning kind of makes my body rather weary!

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Continue getting up early (and do some physics!)

After my marathon 50 laps yesterday, I crashed in the afternoon. And not just a little afternoon siesta, either – I was out for three hours! Yesterday evening Ekaterin and I had dance practise, which was most enjoyable. We didn’t get around to going firefly hunting though. Maybe another time.

This morning, I continued my week of early mornings, and got to the pool at about ten past eight. I felt that I could have done 50 laps and then some quite happily, but they kicked me out of the pool at 46. I forced myself to stay awake today; it’s going to be an early night to bed tonight. However, I also had a wonderfully productive day, and managed to nut out the problem I’ve been working on for a few weeks. Well, I managed to nut out the details of what other people have already done, but I managed to do it analytically, when they were doing it numerically, so I was rather proud of myself 🙂

The pinnacle of my success is in the form of the following plot, which to the uninitiated is known as a Penrose diagram. The squiggly lines at the top and bottom represent the singularity associated with a black hole and white hole, respectively. The black outer lines (the diagonal ones) are known as future and past null infinity (the future ones are up the top). The dashed lines show curves of constant observer time and areal radius (red and blue dashed curves, respectively). The strong red lines are event horizons. None of that is particularly special. What is special are the green curves, which define a foliation of spacetime into spacelike hypersurfaces. These particular green curves have the special name of “maximally sliced trumpet embeddings”, and they’re of some importance in solving the equations of general relativity for black holes on a computer.

(Clicking on it will give you a sharper image)

Tomorrow I’m planning on getting to the pool a little earlier, and seeing if I can’t crack a mile. I’m excited to move onto the next step in this little mini project, too.

One other thing I’d like to share with you all. While I was riding home yesterday, this lovely thing was sitting just outside my apartment complex. She didn’t seem at all perturbed at the funny human trying to take photos of her.

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