Back from the desert

The desert and Petra were amazing. Stories and pictures to follow, at some point when I’m more conscious. Lots of Bedouins, lots of sand, lots of steep mountains, good tea. Plus some notes on the country.

Published in: on June 5, 2005 at 10:12  Comments (2)  
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Published in: on May 22, 2005 at 22:48  Enter your password to view comments.  

Busy couple of weeks…

…actually, busy couple of months. I just finished reading “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” by Richard Rhodes, and I can’t recommend it highly enough; it’s an amazingly engaging bit of history, well-researched and exceptionally written. And, of course, rather creepy to read.

It’s also got me thinking about an idea for a sophomore or junior-level physics course in nuclear physics, that would try to combine serious theory, engineering, experiment, and history; essentially following the early development of the subject, actually doing all of the major experiments (it’s one of the few fields of physics where that’s possible in a classroom setting), and getting the students up to the point where they understand both the technical and ethical issues associated with their field. I suspect it could be a great way to both really draw in the very serious students and to give them a much-needed parallelism of experiment and theory in a class.

(I remember that I didn’t get my first really interesting experimental physics class until my senior year. That was the year I got thrown in a lab with a bunch of spare parts and told to measure things. I remember building a gamma spectrometer and spending hour after hour looking for interesting things I could examine with it… and had I had a class like that a few years earlier, my life might have turned out very differently. Oh well… thus the urge to teach it to others.)

Also: It looks confirmed, my cousin Sharon is getting married in early June, so I’m going back to Israel for a few weeks. (Finally!) And my grandmother promised to teach me the basics of wood sculpture while I’m there. (And if it weren’t for the wedding being in June, I would probably go much sooner… dammit, I need a trip. Right now a few weeks in Israel and a few days on the side in Paris sounds really, really appealing)

Published in: on December 15, 2004 at 23:22  Comments (4)  
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Friday night…

…and I’m sitting in a cafe, drinking coffee and trying to understand K-theory. It’s probably a sign that I’m a geek, that this seems to be one of the most wonderful ways possible to spend a Friday night.

Incidentally, since I know there are other geeks out there: Does anyone happen to have a good intuition for Bott periodicity, in any context whatsoever? (Topological K-theory, algebraic K-theory, cohomology, something else…) I’m feeling very stuck in not having a good intuition for why it works.

Published in: on November 19, 2004 at 22:07  Comments (18)  
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Part of the cultural elite…

I feel like some sort of parody of the “cultural elite.” I’m sitting in a cafe, and my bag contains an iBook, the New York Times magazine and book review, and volume 1 of a new translation of the Zohar.

Published in: on November 7, 2004 at 15:24  Comments (18)  

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Published in: on March 21, 2004 at 23:02  Enter your password to view comments.  
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Successes for the day

Spent the morning in the coffee shop, getting work done; then spent an excellent day with gaaneden, walking, eating, watching the Kenshin OVA, and generally spending some quality time together.

Now the evening has been spent eating bread, cheese and olives, working on a computation to show why the current project isn’t likely to work, and looking back at some of the moral issues I was thinking about at the cafe earlier. I think I’m closer to an explaination of some of the key ideas I’m looking for about the nature of divine benevolence and the existence of evil. Need to clean this up, then enter it into the main philosophy log book.

I think some coherent picture is starting to emerge in that logbook, about the moral philosophy of good and evil. It’s funny how putting down ideas over a period of time can lead to some sense spontaneously arising. At some point I may have to restructure it into something human-readable. Right now I pity anyone who tries to parse it.

Also have some preliminary ideas on how to translate (in my copious free time, of course) verse 28 of Cohen’s “Book of Mercy” (the one that begins “You who pour mercy into hell”), especially after a conversation with Monte on words for “hell” in Aramaic. It’s very cool to have the sorts of friends one can discuss things like this with.

Published in: on March 10, 2003 at 00:03  Comments Off on Successes for the day  
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Well, since everyone else is posting week status, I may as well join in. Mine’s been pretty
exciting so far, with the partial down note that my great-uncle passed away last night.
I say partial because it was probably in the best of possible ways; (well, apart from being
shot in bed at 98 by a jealous husband – and knowing him, he would have probably found
that a pretty good way. For those of you who have heard the stories, he’s the one whose
sister gave him a bike helmet for his 80th birthday, and he thought it was so cool that he
immediately put it on and biked 40km through Israeli traffic to show his nephew; he’s
also the one with the huge scrapbook of pictures of girlfriends) he was very healthy until
a few months ago, then suddenly everything happened at once. So his death was both
swift and an end to suffering, and it’s for the best. Funeral tonight.

Apart from that: Trip has been going very well so far. Got to see lots of people that
I’ve been wanting to, got to travel in all sorts of odd parts of the country (random note: There’s
a not-bad coffee house called Coffee Annan – and the pun is even worse in Hebrew, BTW – on
a tall mountain overlooking the Syrian border. It’s kinda weird, especially because the border
is visible – the ground changes from a rich brown (on the Israeli side) to a sort of
gray (on the Syrian side). I have no idea what they’re doing to the ground to make it look that
way, but it doesn’t look particularly arable. The coffee house itself is right next to an old IDF
bunker, which is still open as a sort of museum; kinda in a loose sense of the word, though.
The machine-guns are all still there (but completely rusted; kids play with them) and there are
even sheets still on the beds in the bunker. The border area is actually surprisingly calm;
basically both Israel and Syria are more or less satisfied with the status quo, at least for now,
and so in the far north people are actually much more relaxed than in the center.

I’ll save the detailed stories for when I get back – but there are some good ones, including a
wedding and getting to visit an archaeological site in Jerusalem that isn’t open to the public.

*hug* to everyone!

Published in: on September 30, 2002 at 09:49  Comments (3)  
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