- Obviously this year's Nobel in physics was for neutrino oscillations. ZZ has thoughtfully provided two nice postings (here and here) with relevant links for further reading. I remember the solar neutrino problem vividly from undergrad days, including one professor semi-jokingly speculating that perhaps the lack of expected electron neutrinos was because the sun had gone out. The whole particles-oscillating-into-new-types business, famous in physics circles from the K mesons, is tough to explain to a general audience. You could probably come up with some analog description involving polarized light....
- Here is a neat article about a record Chinese traffic jam, and it includes links to papers about self-organization. I'm happy to see this kind of article - I think there is real value in pointing out to people that there can be emergent, organized states that result from the aggregate of simple rules. That's the heart of condensed matter and statistical physics.
- This week buzzfeed helped break the story that Geoff Marcy, an astronomer famed for his role in the discovery of extrasolar planets and mentioned as a likely Nobel candidate, was found guilty of multiple violations of Berkeley's sexual misconduct policy. Note to those who haven't followed this: This is the result of a long investigation - it's not hearsay, it's essentially a conviction via a long university investigative process. Marcy's apology letter is here. Apparently this bad behavior had been tolerated for many years. Berkeley's response has been, shall we say, tepid. Despite a clear finding of years of inappropriate behavior involving students 1/3 his age, the response is "do this any more, and you'll be dismissed". The initial response from the department head had an inexcusably awful last paragraph that implied that this whole process was hardest on Marcy, rather than on the victims. This is terrible. People, including departmental colleagues, are calling for Marcy to step down. Bottom line: There is simply no excuse for this kind of behavior, and actual sanctions must be applied when people are found through due process to have violated this level of basic social decency.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Several topics: The Nobel, self-organization, and Marcy
I'm heavily into some writing obligations right now, but I wanted to point out a few things:
Posted by Douglas Natelson at 3:08 PM