Archive for August, 2007

Physics kills…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 31, 2007 by quantummoxie

While most people think ‘chemicals’ (or perhaps ‘car accident’ which is physics-related) when they hear that a rock star has bitten the dust, you’d be surprised by just how many have been killed by falling objects or been electrocuted while performing…

Where have all the trout gone, long time passing…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 27, 2007 by quantummoxie

I’ve been fishing my entire life, but, until this summer, it was always spincasting, usually for small-mouth bass and almost always in ponds and lakes. I picked up fly fishing this summer and fell in love (which is a euphamism for ‘became obsessed’). Anyway, I picked up my first batch of fly fishing stuff on Father’s Day, a bit late in the season for trout, but nonetheless made every attempt I could to catch a trout. All in all, I’ve gotten reasonably good at catching things, especially considering I’m entirely self-taught as far as fly fishing goes (none of this ‘dunk and reel’ stuff). But I still haven’t caught a trout – ever, in my entire life. I’ve caught tons of bass – but never a trout.

So yesterday, I said ‘screw it’ and I headed up to the upper Presumpscot River just off of Route 35 on the Windham/Gorham line here in Maine. Why? Because this stretch of river is so heavily stocked with trout and salmon that I have heard anglers refer to it as ‘unsporting.’ The water was nice and cool despite the oppressive heat of the day. Cool enough for brown trout, at least, or so I thought.

Now, mind you, I caught some great fish yesterday including small-mouth bass measuring 14″, 11″, 9.5″, and 7.5″ long. Nice-sized fish. And the bass were everywhere. I probably could have caught even more if I’d had a couple more arms. Nonetheless, I didn’t catch any trout. I didn’t even see any trout. Toward the end of my day, a guy dropped by and told me the day before all the trout were huddled in a spring-fed hole, just under the main current a bit north of where I was. Said he caught ten and that there must have been 200 (so he said). So, after a quick dinner, I set out for the hole which I found rather easily after about five minutes of wading. Needless to say, the hole was empty. No fish of any kind.

But I have hope! The lower Mousam River, which runs about 400 yards from my house, is heavily stocked in the fall (of course, the Presumpscot is stocked year-round – and it’s only a 50 minute drive) with both brown and brook trout and it contains sea-run brook trout. So, there’s still time. But, despite numerous fishing trips this summer, I have seen only two trout – both here in the Mousam. It’s like I’m chasing a ghost fish. Do they even exist? Or are they really just some old-wive’s tale or a legend like the Loch Ness Monster? I say they’re real. And before too long I may even have a picture to prove it…

Cryptography, Conspiracy, & Crime

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 12, 2007 by quantummoxie

I’m back from vacation!! While indeed it was a blissful week away, I am glad to be back. While I was away, however, I visited the The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. They had a great exhibit on Federico da Montefeltro and His Library that included information on the Pazzi conspiracy. Historically it had always been viewed as primarily a blood feud between two families: the Pazzis and the Medicis. The Pazzis had hired de Montefeltro (known as the Duke of Urbino – his hooked nose apparently the result of an attack by a falcon) to assassinate two of the Medici brothers (they succeeded on one account but failed on another). It had always been conjectured but never proven that Pope Sixtus IV (is that like a Latinized Borg reference?) had a hand in the assassination attempt. Well, a few years ago, Marcello Simonetta at Wesleyan University (the one in Connecticut) discovered the “smoking gun” that implicated the Pope in the conspiracy. It involved being able to decode an intricately encrypted letter. Ironically, Simonetta was able to do this thanks to another historical document that detailed the decryption technique that was written by his own ancestor, Cicco Simonetta, apparently the father of modern cryptology (code-breaking) who was alive at the time! [Aside: Cryptography is code-making – I am ashamed to say I never knew the difference.] Anyway, they give a basic background on the cipher at the Morgan, but I couldn’t find anything specific about that exact cipher online. But here’s a brief paper on ciphers that seems to indicate it might have simply been a complex Caesar cipher though I recall something about certain people being represented by certain specific characters (as opposed to simply encoding the name). Plus the encrypted message was within an innocuous looking letter. Anyway, it’s often easy to decode since it only requires modular arithmetic, but you have to be looking for it to know it’s there and the living Simonetta had stumbled across his ancestor’s instructions just before tackling the letter in question!! How how cool is that?

Wanna get published?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 2, 2007 by quantummoxie

OK, that was a shamelessly deceptive title for this post. I’m preparing the latest issue of The Quantum Times and am just wondering if anyone has anything they think should be included. Here’s a list of what I’ve got so far:

– Lead story on loopholes in quantum cryptography
– Recap of the Växjo conference on quantum foundations
– Recap of the Vienna Symposium
– Article on overlooked events in the history of the laser
– Short editorial on the FBI’s restrictions on grad students
QCMC announcement
– Fellowship and award announcements

Many-Worlds again…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 2, 2007 by quantummoxie

Max Tegmark has a recent article on the arXiv that argues in favor of the many-worlds interpretation again. It has become a bit of a pet-peeve of mine (though I will happily correct myself as soon as someone offers me some experimental evidence to support the idea). Rather than enter into a diatribe on the subject I will simply point to a previous post on this blog in which I point out a problem in MWI. I will point out that if the notions of permutation symmetry discussed in that post could be proven experimentally, it would offer experimental evidence against MWI. So, while it seems unlikely that MWI can be proven it might be disproven.