Sunday, April 30, 2006

20 G

How fast do you have to move to produce 20 G in a 58 - foot diameter centrifuge?

NASA's 20-G centrifuge machine

NASA scientists are using a 20-G centrifuge machine that can simulate up to 20 times the terrestrial gravity to evaluate the effects of hypergravity on humans. The goal of these experiments is to reduce the adverse effects that space travel can have on astronauts' physical heath but also to help the rapidly growing senior population.

We are having a field trip to a roller-coaster nearby in the high school. NASA has a big roller-coaster.

read more | digg story

B_s oscillation

A few days ago I reported the experimental measurements of CDF at Fermilab. Now I explain the meaning of these results.

The article in the electronic repository at Los Alamos National Laboratory:

gives more information.

The catchy line of the result was that the particle of matter turn into anti-matter many times per second. It takes this particle 0.0577 pico seconds to change. One picosecond is:

0.000 000 000 001 second.

This must be one of the smallest times ever measured by man.

This process is so fast that we have a window to new physics. The article above informs us that no new physics is necessary, the so-called Standard Model predicts this very small time interval, and the prediction was confirmed by CDF, and previously by D_0 at Fermilab.

Unfortunately New Physics cannot be completely rejected either. Even if we know more now, we are still in limbo. The Standard Model will be tested at CERN starting in 2007.

Nobel Prize winner sent to Prison for Manslaughter

It may win you fame and fortune, but a Nobel Prize sure doesn't get your speeding ass out of prison time. Nobel prize winner and co-founder of superconductor BCS theory John Schrieffer sent to prison for manslaughter.

This happened last year to an ex-professor of my Alma Mater, the University of Californai Santa Barbara.

read more | digg story

Complexity Theory Guru

Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel Prize winner writes a note for Time magazine on Geoffrey West, a great complexity theory scientist.

read more | digg story

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Day without a Mexican

Next Monday is a day without a Mexican.

You can read Sergio Arau's interview in Mexico City in spanish here: 

He is the director of the movie. The march's  name is "A Day without a Mexican"

Why is this Relevant Science?

The reality of the mexican presence is a scientific, historic, and geographic fact. Looking at the time scales involved, you could get a frame of reference also.

First americans, 20 000 years.
First european americans, 500 years.

Which one has more staying power as a biological process?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Einstein and Poincaré

These two gentlemen worked on time synchronization at the beginning of last century, but did not write a paper together. I wonder why? I am reading Peter Galison book: "Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps. 

Time sync was economically important for France and Switzerland, not just a past time for philosophers. 

Monday, April 24, 2006

Memeland in Wikipedia

Now memeland exists in Wikipedia:

This item was deleted from Wikipedia, and I wrote it back. The staying power of the meme, memeland is already being tested. I expect it to be deleted again. I have to learn how to convince the authorities in Wikipedia that the idea has merit.

It was deleted again. Now there is a record, and my name is there. I guess I can keep developing the idea.

This is the place with more authority  in the Internet about Memeland.

There is a blog with that  name already:


But the creator has not done anything with it yet.

Prof. Susan Blackmore, has contributed to the meme concept invented by Prof. Richard Dawkins.

Memeland is a meme.

Almost any juxtaposition of words is a construct with possible uses. Memespace does exist already. My first task is to differentiate memland from memespace.

Land and Space can be used as synonyms. Land though has more of a human touch. England as opposed to Engspace. Disneyland as opposed to Disneyspace. Cyberland as opposed to Cyberspace.

Which side of the similar word one falls depends on human presence, it seems to me.

Therefore Memeland, will be the place for memes, where they live like organic beings.

Fairyland is a Memeland.


The word came to me while I was writing one of these posts. Then it occurred to me that somebody must have used it before. I googled it and there it was; memeland exists.

My contribution to the term is: and help us navigate memeland, and as the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote:

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

By walking on memeland using or, we make a path, a path in culture, and a path in our minds. Those paths, "caminos", are our minds in memeland.

Global Warming

Mario Molina. Mexican chemist, MIT professor, and expert on environmental science. 

I mentioned him in my previous note. Now I have two articles one in english:

and one in spanish:

This is relevant science. 

May 2004 - May 2006

A movie was released two years ago; "A Day Without a Mexican". Next Monday May 1st there is a day without a mexican. This movie by mexican director Sergio Arau in collaboration with Yareli Arizmendi, asks a simple question: What would happen in California if the mexicans disappeared?

The economies and histories of Mexico and the United States are intertwined; the interaction goes back a long time. Americans may or may not like mexicans, and viceversa; but that does not change the geographical and historical fact of this interdependence.

Keep your eyes and ears open for next Monday May 1st.

Relevant Science in the making. Knowing the other is part of anthropology. On a more human level, I can mention Prof. Mario Molina, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. He predicted in the late seventies, together with Prof. Rowland then at the University of California at Irvine; that artificial fluorocarbons could endangered the ozone layer which protects us against harmful solar radiation.

This prediction was confirmed and fluorocarbons banned. Thank you Drs. Rowland and Molina. Now we are a little safer because of your work. 

Hawking-Hartle-Hertog's Universe

The HHH universe is very interesting.

In the Los Alamos National Laboratory electronic archive:

You can find an intriguing article by Hawking and Hertog, using the Hartle-Hawking wave function of the Universe, they predict inflation given that we live in three space and one time dimension.

Also New Scientist has an article on this idea.


Time travel and wormholes are ideas that can be studied with the General Theory of Relativity, which is Einstein's version of gravitational force theory. Before getting into wormholes I look into escape velocity first.

All of us have thrown objects up. What we see is that the object invariably stops and starts to go down. This does not have to be like that. Humans sent an artificial satellite to orbit in the late fifties, this was the Sputnik. The speed of this object must have been bigger or equal to eight kilometers per second. At eleven kilometers per second or more, throwing the object up, it does not come back to the surface of the Earth.

This escape velocity can be calculated with the law of conservation of mechanical energy for the case of the gravitational force. Newton proposed in the seventeenth century that a body getting far from the Earth is pulled down with a force that gets smaller as the distance increases. For every doubling of the distance the force is one quarter of what it was before. This inverse squared relationship is very important and predicts closed orbits for the planets.

Kinetic energy is a measure of the motion of the object under study, the Sputnik say. Besides kinetic or motion energy, this artificial satellite of the Earth has potential energy. The higher up the Sputnik is, the bigger its potential energy gets. The sum of the kinetic energy and the potential energy of the Sputnik is constant. It goes high, the potential energy increases, and the kinetic energy has to go down. At some height the object stops, i.e., its kinetic energy is zero. At this point in time, the object starts to fall and its velocity increases. Now the kinetic energy is increasing and the potential energy is decreasing, the sum of these two energies remains constant. This sum is called the mechanical energy.

It stands to reason that there is a velocity for which the sum of the potential plus kinetic energy is zero. Potential energy could be defined as zero when the obejct is at an infinite distance from the Earth. If when the object reaches this infinite distance it also stops, its kinetic energy would be zero. Zero plus zero is zero. This object reaches an infinite distance and stops; its total mechanical energy is zero. This projectile has the so-called escape velocity. It escapes the gravitational force of the Earth. When the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light in magnitude we have reeached a fundamental limit. No observational evidence exists for an object moving faster than light in free space. Therefore if the planet, or more likely the star, has such a big mass in such a small volume to have an escape velocity equal to the speed of light. Nothing can escape from that star. We have a black hole.

The idea of a star so massive that not even light could escape is prior to Einstein; but only with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was it possible to find a mathematical solution that satisfies this condition. This solution was found by Schwarzschild in 1916, almost a hundred years ago. You can read about it in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Wormholes are other solutions to Einstein's equations:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Widget not working

This blogger widget is misbehaving. Now it worked. So many things go wrong, as one uses more and more complex tools, there are more ways to go wrong. Now the widget I use to post works again.

James Hansen wants you to know

Dr. Hansen wants you to know.,8816,1176828,00.html

Time Travel

In the May 1st issue of Newsweek, you can read about time travel:

Kurt Godel many years ago together with Einstein at Princeton found solutions to the General Relativity equations that had unorthodox time behavior. Now we are just wainting for an able experiementalist to check the work of those two great minds of last century.

Binary Pulsars

General Relativity predicts that any pair of objects moving around each other must lose energy throug gravitational radiation. Binary Pulsars have been observed doing that. The energy lost this way is so little that most stars will live a long time before losing their energy to gravitons, the so far undetected carriers of the gravitational force. 

I wonder if the energy in gravitons all around the Universe itself attracts gravitons producing some graviton balls of pure energy; just a thought.


Alternative Certification for High School Teachers

Other, different
Process of granting Official Document attesting the truth of a claim

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, to qualify for an alternative certification license to teach middle school and high school in the state of Illinois.

I do not know the decision the jury is going to reach. I am sure I still have plenty of work before I can claim that I am a certified high school science teacher. Nevertheless I write here some thoughts on the process of alternative certification and the state of science teaching in high school.

Alternate means that I did not take four years of courses in the education department of an accredited university in the United States. I did take four years of courses at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico City in Communications and Electronics Engineering. Am I qualified to teach physics to high school students in Illinois?

If any of my current students is reading this, he or she is a better person to answer. I believe I am and this is why. 

I love physics precisely because it explains physical happenings. I want to explain to everybody how is it that I understand physical phenomena. Have I succeeded in helping high school students understand physics?

The answer to that question in part has to do with the second question I want to answer here. Science teaching in my school has at least one problem I can see. Not all the students in the classroom are that interested in this knowledge. 

The next step for me is to make it relevant to them. When I post a story that makes it to the top forty list of I will know that I have succeeded; keep coming back to this blogspot, I will announce the event.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Relativity and Quantum Mechanics

In a nutshell, relativity is based on two hypotheses. All inertial reference frames are equivalent, and the speed of light is the same in all these frames. Quantum mechanics is based on one axiom. There is a minimum action.

Like in previous posts, these statements are cryptic for most regular guys. I was a regular guy before I got intrigued about the concept of time, and how is it possible that an electron could be both a particle and a wave. Here I write a few words that may beef up, these three axioms.

An axiom is a beginning point of argumentation. I call them in this note axioms or hypotheses. There are technical differnces between the two concepts. What I mean to say here is that we start there, they are a beginning point. A hypothesis is proven by the conclusions. If we do not reach any contradiction we add the hypothesis to the list of statements that we can use with certain confidence. There is some interesting problem of thought, that goes by the name of ``the problem of induction". As I understand this problem, it means that by only knowing many cases, we cannot be sure that the statement is always true. If one wants to go from the particular to the general, one does it at one's own risk.

There are experiments and mathematical derivations that convinced scientists around a hundred years ago; of the reasonableness of these three statements; but at the end of the day only experiments can decide.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Relevant Facts

I just read the 100 facts of the previous note. I report here the ones that stayed in my mind:

The speed of light 299792458 m/s

A squid can produce a shock of 650 V

There are more living organisms on our skin than human beings on the surface of the Earth

75 million people died from the Black Death

It will take an hour to get out in space in our cars going up

That is enough for now to make a point.

I remember the speed of light because in 1983 a committee chose that value. I factored it the other day, and I memorized the biggest prime number in its factorization, 293339, the other factors are easy to remember, 73, 7, and 2.

The squid voltage may be off a few volts, but I remembered that it was in the hundreds of volts. The skin fact, is a comparison, a bit unexpected, and therefore interesting. That is why it stuck. I remember that the number of Mexican deaths from the germs the Spanish brought was 20 millions. So the order of magnitude may be OK.The space trip in your car was just, memorable, at least as an order of magnitude.

My point is that there is already an ecology of ideas in which new ideas come in. If I was not preparing a lecture on Relativity, I would've not known about the speed of light factorization. There is not a pattern here, besides what my mind chooses to be working on at this moment. At the end I believe, if a set of ideas goes together nicely to explain something nobody can understand yet, that will make my day, and I will remember it, and maybe other people will remember also, and I would have contributed my meme to human culture.

100 Interesting science facts

Some that caught my attention:
-10 percent of all human beings ever born are alive at this very moment.
-There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

This is relevant science.

read more | digg story

Diggs as Memes

I wrote a little piece on my teaching philosophy before this one. I mention the word meme there. I did not invent this word. It was the British biologist, Richard Dawkings, that invented it. I believe it was in his book "The Selfish Gene". The idea of meme, became a meme. A meme is an idea with staying power. It does not have to be an idea, it could be a catchy tune, a wizzle sound, anything we choose to keep in our mind. After writing my teaching philosophy note, I went to

It hit me. I guess this is a simple idea, and very likely other people have had it already. Definitely some people, like the inventors of Google, are making a lot of money out of it.

We navigate our environment of ideas, ecology of ideas, as I write in my note; with the help of guides. In the case of my teaching philosophy note, the teacher is the guide in memeland. A student won't listen to us, if what we say does not survive in his mind. He may be reviewing in his mind the last cheat codes he downloaded for the game he is being playing in the Internet for the past week. He is far away from right-handed rules and magnetic fields. The result is that the memes I was trying to sneak in, in his mind don't make it. Of course I may just be a bad teacher, and nobody will listen to me anyway. But assuming that I have done everything professionally expected of me as a good teacher. I am still an actor in the ecology of the mind of that student. I have to produce relevant science, relevant to the student not only to me. is another tool used nowadays to navigate the cultural landscape of memeland. The beauty of this tool, is that there is no teacher. We are all teachers and students in diggland.

I sadly report that none of my postings has made it to the top ten.

I suppose that even the captive audience I have at school, is not listening to me much more at school. is a meme testing ground. When my memes make it to, I can be more confident that my classes will be more memorable.

My Teaching Philosophy

I have taught for many years. I have been in classrooms, in different capacities, with students from K to 12, undergraduate, and graduate schools. I believe that a good way to teach is by empowering the students to own their knowledge, and the process to acquire it. I believe in the existence of a concrete mental process of construction. In the beginning not all thoughts are there, as time passes, more and more ideas are born and grow up to populate a community of ideas. As far as I can see the process of idea construction goes like this.

There is a basic accommodation of living matter to the surrounding space at a given time. Organisms that do not adapt, leave the space and time they occupy for other organisms. No single form of navigation in this landscape is in principle better than any other. The sum total of conditions make it possible for some organisms to stay, and others to become extinct. A big rock coming from the sky around sixty five million years ago, was not "intended" to kill any particular life form. The top of the food chain had to go. I believe that our ideas go through a "recapitulation" of a similar environmental accommodation in our brain. No single event in our experience is "intended" to teach us a lesson. There just are concrete conditions under which ideas grow, reproduce, and stay in the ecosystem of ideas that we call our "self".

I do not mean to say that meaning never appears, that this is a random process of piling up useless knowledge, upon useless knowledge until kingdom comes. In a very interesting and mysterious way, this process of idea building works. Not all ideas ever thought are around, on the contrary, there are some successful ideas called "memes", that somehow have the best chance of making their presence known, both in our personal ecology of ideas, and in what we call culture, or collective ecology of ideas. Ideas do fight to stay. Of course ideas also cooperate to stay.

My role as a teacher is to serve as a midwife of ideas. I cannot force on idea on somebody, just like I cannot make a baby appear by pure thinking. The baby has to be there to begin with. Once the baby is there I can help the parent, remember men also have ideas, to bring it up to the world of ideas. That idea, if it is good in the personal environment of ideas of that person, will grow to claim its rightfull place in this world we call our "mind".

I mainly teach physics, here I will give "two keys to physics", for those interested in this way of knowning.

One of the most important "memes" in the world of physical ideas is:

Everything is made out of parts

After this idea another important one is:

F = ma

These keys seem a bit esoteric. If you never have taken a physics class they must as well be in Greek. The rest of this note clarifies the meaning of these "keys".

The parts of everything are size dependent. For a few tenths of a meter (one meter is around three feet), we see other people's arms, legs, and mainly faces with expressions. We look at those faces since we are born, it is an innate reflex. As we look at smaller parts, we see cells, and other units of information storage and replication. We have the cell nucleus with its genetic code. At still smaller sizes we see atoms, and molecules. This process of looking at smaller and smaller distances has not stopped and now we are trying to see strings of Planck's size. This is the smallest size to which physicists can attach any meaning nowadays.

These parts interact according to Newton's second law of motion. The parts have mass m and acceleration a. This acceleration is the rate of change of velocity; velocity itself, is the rate of change of the part's position. On the left hand side of the equation we have F. This is the force, the mover, the cause of motion. We only know four forces, gravitational, electromagnetic, nuclear weak, and nuclear strong.

The most familiar ones, and easier to study mathematically are the first two. Our weight is a manifestation of the first, static electricity is a manifestation of the second. Whenever a lot of this charge accumulates in the clouds above us, we can see lightning and hear thunder. The other two forces are known to us in our daily lives maybe through the press, when issues of nuclear energy policy are discussed, both peaceful and not.

With those two keys a person can understand a lot of what goes on in the physical world. These are definitely "memes" from physics to the world.

Monday, April 17, 2006

CDF confirmation of B_s oscillation at Fermilab

It said ``A few days ago CDF reported B_s oscillations, now D_0 confirms this."
It should've said ``A few days ago D_0 reported oscillations, now CDF confirms this."

By the way this is the Fermilab Press release:

My error is due to the high expectations I have for CDF. I thought they were first. Sorry D_0, and congratulations!

read more | digg story

D_0 confirmation of B_s oscillation at Fermilab

A few days ago CDF reported B_s oscillations, now D_0 confirms this.

read more | digg story

B_s anti B_s confirmed

April 18, 2006
A Real Flip-Flopper, at 3 Trillion Times a Second

Have trouble making up your mind?

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory reported what would seem to set a new standard for vacillation last week: a subatomic particle that reverses identity three trillion times a second, switching into its upside-down mirror-image evil-twin antimatter opposite and then back again.

The measurement of this yin-yang dance was a triumph for Fermilab's Tevatron, which smashes together trillion-volt protons and antiprotons to create fireballs of primordial energy, and for the so-called Standard Model, a suite of theories that explains all that is known to date about elementary particles and their interactions.

"This finding is only the beginning of many more exciting scientific discoveries," said I. Joseph Kroll, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kroll was part of the 700-member multinational team known as the Collider Detector Facility collaboration that did the definitive analysis, confirming an earlier estimate by a rival Fermilab group, the DZero collaboration.

The indecisive particle, known as a strange neutral B meson, is composed of a pair of smaller particles called quarks, which come in six different whimsically named types or "flavors." The meson contains a so-called bottom quark and a strange anti-quark, but the rules of quantum and quark physics allow quarks to change flavors. As a result the meson can flip over to its antiparticle, a strange quark and a bottom anti-quark.

Physicists hope that studying such behavior in this and other particles may help them understand why the universe is overwhelmingly matter and not antimatter, as well as gain a clue to whatever deeper theory may underlie the Standard Model, which leaves out gravity, among other things.

And there is the rub. As with many weird things in modern physics, the problem with the bipolar particle is why it is not even weirder. According to some versions of a popular theory known as supersymmetry, the meson should be oscillating even more rapidly than it does.

Physicists are a bit frustrated that their results keep agreeing with the Standard Model and so far show no hint of supersymmetry.

Lisa Randall, a Harvard theorist not involved in the experiments, said: "We don't know what it means. It might mean that supersymmetry is not there, or that it is at higher energies than we think. Or it may be that we are on the wrong track altogether."

Young-Kee Kim of the University of Chicago, a spokeswoman for the Collider Detector Facility collaboration, said, "Our real hope was for something bizarre." Nature is tough, she said, but physicists are pretty tough, too. "We keep fighting," Dr. Kim said.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Physicists in the US have made the first gas that never reaches equilibrium

According to the team, the gas behaves like a "quantum Newton's cradle" -- the atomic equivalent of the popular desk toy that has five steel balls suspended from strings in a straight line. The work could help us better understand the behaviour of many-particle systems and even be used in practical applications like ultrasenstive force detectors

Read the note below.

read more | digg story

Quantum Mechanics

Dr. Weiss et al. have produced a ``quantum Newton's cradle" -- the atomic equivalent of the popular desk toy that has five steel balls suspended from strings in a straight line.

We like toys, but are they ``relevant science"?

First of all, understanding helps invention. It can be argued that understanding is necessary for invention once one passes a threshold of complexity. A construction worker can build a small room. To construct a skyscraper we need understanding.

There is an exact mathematical solution for this quantum system of atoms in one dimension. Let me conclude by explaining what I think a quantum mechanical description is.

Inventors out there, pay attention, it is good to understand Quantum Mechanics to make good use of this result from the scientists at Penn State.

Newton's description of his cradle, contains the essential ingredients. If you took physics in high school, you may remember what those ingredients are. Position, time, rate of change of position or velocity, and rate of change of velocity. Mass, force, action and reaction, and inertia.

One ball hits the next, and gets hit in return, half a cycle of the chain reaction ends when the last ball does not find a next ball to hit, then it comes back and hits the ball that hit it; and there they go again, over and over until the end of time.

Actually friction will stop them. That is the beauty of the quantum case, as far as the scientists could determine in this case, the atoms do not stop hitting each other.

Now that the classical and a little bit of the quantum descriptions are laid down, let us look more attentively at the quantum case.

Position and velocity cannot be measured at the same time with infinite precision for atoms. Steel balls only give us the impresion that can be measured exactly. Any practical scientist can tell you what the measurement errors are, and how to reduce them. What quantum mechanics adds to this description is that no matter what the person does, there is an irreducible uncertainty in determining these two variables.

 Do atoms have a precise position and velocity?

At some point it becomes a very interesting philosophical discussion. I do not think that the Penn State scientists are loosing too much sleep understanding the philosophical implications of what they accomplished. I can assure you though, that this result has philosophical and practical implications. Very good work, Dr. Weiss! 

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Widgets Again

I just downloaded a new widget for my Apple computer. It shows the rss service of digg:

This is a GUI that conveniently appears in a small region of the screen. One can scroll for interesting news, mainly about science and technology.

You can find about this particular widget in the Mac Format for April that I bought yesterday at the Borders Bookstore near my house.

Unfortunately this magazine comes from the UK and it takes time to get to the shelves. I got the April issue, and they already have the May issue out in England. 

The widget I am talking about is in the first of the two CDs that come with Issue 167 of the magazine; it is produced by Ominous Orb at:

There you can get the most current version. Now you can download Version 2.8

I also have widgets for weather, stocks, time, and more. I have the iStat pro telling me how much CPU is used as I am working now (User 24%, System 13%, and the rest Idle).

Of course I am also using a widget to compose and post this blog. 

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Organic Light Emitting Diodes are conducting plastics. Material scientists have studied alternatives to metals to conduct electricity. It is cheaper to manufacture plastics and last a long time. One problem with OLEDs is that they get wet and deteriorate. This does not sound like a terrible difficult problem to solve. But then again, when I was twenty years old, fusion reactors seemed within reach. More than thirty years and billions of dollars later, I am still waiting for those reactors. I hope that Edison's light bulb will be given an honorable discharge soon. OLEDs or other solid state light solutions should take over after more than a hundred years of the incandescent light bulb.

Perfect power source invented

"This process will enable us to get 100 percent efficiency out of a single, broad spectrum light source," said Stephen Forrest, formerly of Princeton University and now vice president for research at the University of Michigan

OLEDS have had problems. But they likely are solvable.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Errors in Mermin's Book

Prof. N. David Mermin from Cornell University published a new version of his elementary introduction to Special Relativity. "It's About Time: Understanding Einstein's Relativity".

I found two errors, one that is irrelevant, and another that is relevant.

In page 3 it says almost at the end of the page:

``I disgress to remark that the foot (plural ``feet") is a unit of distance (abbreviated ``f"), still used in backward nations, equal to 30.48 centimeters. In this book it will be highly convenient to redefine the ``foot" to be just a little shorter than the conventional English foot: about 30 centimeters (or, more precisely, 29.9798452 centimeters--98.36 percent of a conventional foot)."

Instead of 29.9798452 it should say, 29.9792458.

I am sure some of you must be thinking that this is completely irrelevant. Who cares about such a minor exchange of numbers. The last 8 was exchanged for the 2 in the fourth to the last position. 

It is relevant because in 1983 the people in charge of defining physical units defined the speed of light as exactly:

299792458 m/s

The reason being that The Special Relativity theory of Einstein is based on the premise that all inertial observers measure the same speed of light in free space. This speed is denoted c, and appears in the most famous physics formula: 

E = m c2

By the way you can memorize this number with its prime factors:


Monday, April 10, 2006

Emiliano Zapata

Today we remember that Emiliano Zapata was murdered in 1919.

Zapata represents a free Mexico. Only in a free Mexico can there be Science for the People.

``Ignorance and obscurantism have never produced anything other than flocks of slaves for tyranny."
Emiliano Zapata.

En Español:

El gonzalista Jesús Guajardo le hizo creer a Zapata que estaba descontento con Carranza y que estaría dispuesto a unirse a él. Zapata le pidió pruebas y Guajardo se las dio. Acordaron reunirse en la Hacienda de Chinameca, Morelos, el 10 de abril de 1919, pero desgraciadamente Zapata fue víctima de una emboscada, y fue asesinado ese mismo día.

What is time?

We all have an idea about time. We know when we run out of time. But what is time made out of?

Does time weigh? How many kilos is one hour? Together with time there is another idea we have in our mind--Space.

Time and Space are the stage where life happens. Since Einstein theory of Special Relativity, we know a little more about time. For instance, for light, time stands still. 

Google Buys Search Algorithm Invented by Israeli Student

Google recently acquired an advanced text search algorithm invented by an Israeli student. Yahoo and Microsoft were also negotiating.

Google proves the power of math.

read more | digg story RSS Widget for Dashboard -- and now it's collapsible!

The most highly requested feature, being able to collapse the widget, has finally arrived in version 2.5 of the RSS Widget, and now you can also search directly from the widget.

This widget works.

read more | digg story

Digg CEO Jay Adelson talks about using digg and the future

Podcast interview with digg CEO Jay Adelson.

Digg is a very interesting phenomenon. Take a look.

read more | digg story

Friday, April 07, 2006



Have you ever wandered how does one get this equation?

I write a series of posts on this issue. One assumption is necessary. The speed of light (c) is the same for all observers. Observer in this context is anything. An observer could be an electron chasing the photon. No matter how fast the electron moves, light always is ahead at speed c. This is the fastest speed.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why open source is taking over the planet ...

Microsoft is scared. Here are the stats that show why...

A printer friendly version of the post.

read more | digg story

Theoretical Physics as a Challenge - A self-study guide

"This is a web site for young students - and anyone else - who are (like me) thrilled by the challenges posed by real science, and who are - like me - determined to use their brains to discover new things about the physical world that we are living in. In short, it is for all those who decided to study theoretical physics, in their own time."

This is very Relevant Science.

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Why take the trouble? (XP on Mac)

I posted news on Boot Camp. They reminded me when I was installing Linux in PCs. It was a hassle. Of course once the penguin was there I was happy. What inspired me most of all is the image of this army of intelligent people telling the boss, I own my brain!

We are entering the singularity. Just like if one is near the event horizon of a black hole, the atmospherics are eerie. Something in the air. Millions of students and workers in France marching against the bosses that want to have cheap workers. Millions of mexicans and their friends marching in the US to defend the right to work, ``wherever one pleases". I own my brain! can be heard again loudly. 

Why take the trouble of installing XP in a Mac? First, it feels good to do things in ways that the bosses did not intended. Second, to have more power.

Thi is a relevant piece of news about science applications.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Intel Mac Micro Soft


According to Ray Kurzweil "The Singularity is Near" Why are this three giants coming together when they used to fight so hard in the past? Could it be a sign of the singularity? According to Kurzweil's book Moore's Law has been obeyed for forty years; through all this time the number of processors on a microship has doubled every eighteen months. At this rate by 2045 the world will look very different than it is now. Kurzweil and others call this moment, 2045, the singularity. Around this time technological processes are going to be highly accelerated. Not only the business world is expanding at constant speed. It is accelerating!

For those of you interested in cosmolgy; scientists used to think that the Universe was expanding at a constant velocity, that is Hubble's Law. Recent measurements can be understood by thinking that the Universe is actually accelerating. This is called the Inflationary Model of Alan Guth. Prof. Guth is getting ready for a Nobel Prize, and I guess Mr. Ottelini, Mr. Jobs, and Mr. Gates, are getting ready to be the richest men that ever existed.

Apple Bootcamp DOWNLOAD NOW

Download it NOW

Apple now SUPPORT XP on Mac
Original Digg Story
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Apple Boot Camp Public Beta Announced, Part of 10.5 Leopard

More and more people are buying and loving Macs. To make this choice simply irresistible, Apple will include technology in the next major release of Mac OS X, Leopard, that lets you install and run the Windows XP operating system on your Mac. Called Boot Camp (for now), you can download a public beta today

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Fluids in motion

There are three states of matter under most conditions around us near the surface of the Earth. Solids, Liquids, and Gases. Here I write about fluid motion. Why is this relevant? With a few approximations we can understand simple properties of flow. This understanding can come handy in our daily life. Before describing flow, I write what is a liquid and use this description to relate to flow.

All matter is made out of atoms. That means that understanding the motion of the atoms helps us understand fluid motion. In the case of liquids, which are a type of fluid, the forces between the parts of the liquid are weaker than the forces inside the parts. These parts then, usually molecules like H2O , are free to move away from each other, but not away from the surface of the liquid where tension forces keep the molecules inside the volume occupied by the liquid.

Fluids in Motion

The parts of the fluid in a state of streamline, or laminar motion, move in a regular manner. They do not go around in circles, that requires a difference between the motion above and below the streamline. Particles above the streamline would move in the opposite direction as particles below the line. This is like a hurricane or a tornado, and is not regular streamline motion. It is unavoidable to get some circulation in most flows, they are called eddies, and cause turbulence and friction. This is difficult to describe. It is easier to understand streamlined unifrom motion.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Relevant Science is like Meaningful Science. Meaning and relevancy imply a decision entity. Ray Kurzweil  ("The Singularity is Near") does not like the Algorithm Information Content (AIC) definition of Complexity given by Murray Gell-Mann as "the length of the shortest program that will cause a standard universal computer to print out the string of bits and then halt."

This definition of complexity lacks purpose.

Meaning, Relevancy, Purpose, all relate to an agent that gets it. For my blog, there is no problem with this; if I get it, it goes in the blog.

For me a deep problem is if there is a sense in which the Universe gets it. Does the Universe care? As Weinberg wrote in his book, "The First Three Minutes": "the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."

Obviously I am thinking of consciousness.

I do not like definitions of meaning in physics. When Bohr says that the wave function collapses when a measurement is made, he is implying that our consciuosness has something to do with the process of measurement and collapse of the wave function. A recursion of agents can kill Schroedinger's Cat, before the very last observer knows if the cat is dead or not. Something is fishy there.

In this blog I will include what I thing is relevant.

Electricity and Gravity

There are four fundamental forces known to man. Gravity, Electricity, Nuclear Strong, and Nuclear Weak. The last two were found less than one and a half centuries ago. They have short range and one has to go to extra steps to measure them. Gravity has an infinite range, like electricity. That means that at twice the distance they are one quarter times less intense. The other two forces weaken much more at twice the distance. Newton set the stage for the theory for the first, and Maxwell for the second. Both were theoretical physicists, one from England the other from Scotland. As Europeans sometimes say, all Asians look the same to me. I as a Mexican see all those people from the British Isles, as a single bunch, but then again I have never ever been to Scotland. I expect they will be very happy to tell me that Maxwell was Scottish, not English.

To this day there are mysteries for both forces. For instance, electricity seems to emanate from source points, too small to see. Gravity emanates from everything. Electricity charges can be positive or negative. Gravity charges are all of the same type. Electric charges of the same type repel, gravity charges of the same type attract. Finally gravity is so much weaker than electricity, that you won't even know the name of the number if I write it here. Here it is.


What is going on? who ordered this strange world?

That is all for today. Why is this relevant? If you have ever fallen in love, I would not blame the nuclear forces, it is more likely that the answer to your questions about love are in the long ranged forces.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Now I have a widget that let's me post here. Neat!


I just claimed this blog in Technorati.I hope it helps to blog better. I just found out through them, that nobody is linked here! Bummer. If this does not change the name of the blog will be a joke, Relevant Science, a blog that nobody links to. That is very irrelevant.


Why are neutrinos relevant?

The main reason is that the lowest mass neutrino, very likely the electron neutrino, is stable.

That is a big deal!

We only know two stable particles beside this one. The electron, and the proton. Everything, stable is made out of this two. You may think that the neutron also should be in this list; but neutrons are only stable near protons, by themselves they die in a few minutes, they do not even make it to an hour. What can you build with such an ephemeral particle?

You may also be thinking that I should add the photon and the graviton to the list. These are "force" particles, not "matter" particles. They move at the speed of light and it is hard to build things with them alone. There are lasers of course, those are photon beams. But they cannot stop, or it takes a lot of effort to stop them. In any case the lowest mass neutrino is in this category of elementary particles and therefore we could build things with them. There is a catch though, they interact very weakly. The Fermilab experimental result I posted in this blog depends on tons of material to detect a few neutrinos; but there it is the first neutrino telegraph in the history of womankind; that is relevant science!

All you have to do, is get access to the tunnel at Fermilab, take control of the beam and start sending your Morse code signal. Dot, space, space, dot,... There you have it, your buddies at Soudan Minnesota, will decode your message, and unfortunately right now cannot send you another neutrino beam, because the facility does not have that feature. Maybe in the next version of the gigantic detector and beam system, they can make it bi-directional. It is not being done right now because is expensive, and much cheaper to pick up your cell-phone and call your buddies in a back and forth channel.

A neutrino telegraph would be more relevant if you you want to send your message to China, now we are talking. Just move the direction of your neutrino gun and send it through the center of the Earth. A cell-phone conversation will have to go through satellites. In any case, it is good to have alternatives, maybe the need will arise some day. The proof of principle was achieved for the first time in Herstory by Fermilab staff.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Science applications

Now that I was burned by SPAMMING, people may not take seriously what I have to say about relevant science. I already apologized for adding irrelevant links to some news posts. I hope you come back to this site.

Maybe a little background may help. I did work for Lucent technologies before I was let go in 2001. That is why I found the Lucent Alcatel Merge news interesting. Lucent was bought for around half the price it would have gotten a few years before. Lucent's Pat Russo stays as head of the new company but now the base will be France not the US. This is relevant for anybody that wants to understand what is happening in the world right now. Maybe it is not science, but it is science related. Bell Labs was one of the first Industrial Laboratories in the whole world. Scientists at the Labs invented the transistor, developped the laser, invented Information Theory, and the Theory of Superconductivity. That is a new paradigm in the history of humanity.

The LED keyboard and ethernet ligthing system are interesting for me because I work for Lynk Labs, a small start-up based in Elgin Illinois that develops LED applications. The intention was not to take the attention from the applications to my other interests, it was a way to connect my different interests, maybe somebody would be interested. Now I know that readers are sensitive at getting SPAM. I did not even know that name as describing my actions until my son told me.

The Fermilab neutrino announcement is also historic, and I did work at Fermilab for a few years. Very likely this is one of the last fundamental discoveries of this laboratory, since now the highest energy accelerator in the world is going to start operations next year in Europe. This is very relevant just like Bell labs moves to Europe, high energy physics work moves to Europe.

Carlos Slim, the mexican mogul of telecommunications is pairing up with Intel, to be the king of the Internet in Mexico. At this rate he may get close to Bill Gates in net worth. Those two own over forty billion dollars between them. They are very relevant. This is definitely not science, but applications of science. I am going to change the description of this site right now.

I hope you keep coming to this site, to follow my relevant science.

"don't link to ur blog u sleazy mofo"

A nice person wrote that in response to a comment I linked to this blog.

I apologized in, and I apologize here.

You know, most of my life I have not promoted myself, and now this little bit of self promotion got -28 diggs! I won't do it again. Maybe by just reporting on science and its applications objectively, I may get some respect.

Alcatel Lucent Merge

Finally it happened

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Multicolored ethernet controlled LED lamp

The lamp has two heads with 252 LEDs each. The individual heads have equal number of red, blue, green, yellow and white LEDs. At the base of the lamp is a touch pad that has a virtual slider for each individual color's intensity. The heads can be controlled separately or together. The lamp can also be operated over ethernet.

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If you are interested in LEDs you can visit.

Optimus Keyboard February 1st!

Yes, The Optimus Keyboard, has been announced to be released February 1st 2006! Take a look, this is a awesome keyboard with great use of LED technology!

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Digg listed as 18th most referenced site according to new study

This site is doing a study on RSS feeds and how people are referencing sites, is listed as 18th out of 1.2k million. Lots of big names in the top 20, glad to see digg is up there!

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