Friday, 20 January 2012

Gazing at Stars, Schrodinger's Cat and Nanomagnetics

So where did January almost go to, same place as Christmas and New Year I expect, same place as that other sock, the biro kept by the phone for messages,that fuse you could have sworn was in the corner of the kitchen drawer for that moment when the kettle plug pops, the same place as that New Year promise 2011 that you can’t even remember now but which at the time you really believed you would keep, the same place as the full stop in this sentence , but then oh no here it comes, glory be there is something finite in this fleeting, constantly moving, fey yet at the same time precise universe.

Perhaps you can see that I am just recovery from Stargazing Live on the TV. I love the way they tacked Live on the end to ensure everyone knows that Professor Brian Cox, the rock and roll, cool astro-physicist will be speaking without the intervention of an editor and some things may be less than exciting if it gets cloudy. I was rather disappointed for the Exmoor Village that consented to put all their lights out so the stars could be seen more clearly in all their glory and alas it rained and the cloud cover was so low even small children were ducking to avoid cumuli concussion.

I like science programmes, I like trying to get my head around concepts that are so huge I need someone to reduce them to the size of an orange orbiting a grape or should that be vice versa? In Cambridge next week I have been invited to an event at Cavendish Laboratory ( home of the split atom) which promises to tick all my boxes for bite sized pieces of fruity knowledge.

It is a competition akin I feel to a slam poetry event but here those involved in physics research of all kinds have three minutes to explain their research in a cogent and hopefully entertaining way and be voted on by a panel of judges, I presume mainly on delivery and content but also maybe on the wow factor.

Having seen some of the research topics I am looking forward to seeing if I understand anything. Some of the research projects up for 3 minute explanation are I gather

Measuring the Evolution of the Universe,
High force magnetic levitation using superconducting bulks,
Making solar cells better with Buddhist singing bowls,
Simulating planet formation,
Extreme Engineering: Nanopillar Lasers
CP violation in D(s)->KS0h decays,
Electrodeposition of Copper Nanowire Interconnects,
Controlling and Understanding DNA Transport with Optical Tweezers
Bacteria and the immune system in the human gut
Plastic Electronics
Multi-target ADSR: an innovative concept for a safer nuclear energy production Nanomagnetics
Mobile Human Monitoring
The Beauty of Bottoms

Personally I think the Beauty of Bottoms may just be a catchy title to hide something quite technical involving probes of some kind and the Solar cells and Buddhist singing bowls may be a bum steer as to what the actual research is. However I will be there trying to grasp with my little grey cells the magnitude of man’s capacity for exploring what is already out there and what could be out there. I am waiting to see if someone can come up with an app that gives you the dummy's guide to the explanation of everything. Some would say that already exists and is called an encyclopaedia or wikipedia or the internet in general.

One day we may all be chipped with a small interface with the internet and global wi-fi cover and speeds with be increased to the point where we can be walking around knowing everything almost instantly and then the intelligent will be all of us but the really intelligent will be those with the capacity to use that knowledge well and what well means will still be in the realms of social philosophy and politics …..but wait a minute we are probably there now , only a tiny step from the iphone3 to a chip in the head..

And finally in anticipation of this up coming evening here is a poem by Peter Howard, physicist and poet, a sestina no less, about , Schrodinger's cat, his hypothetical cat in the hypothetical box.

Some Flash Poetry pieces also by Peter can be found here, as we are in the area of technology , science and poetry. I particularly recommend Smoke. You have to have flash on your computer and be prepared to click on the poems and make things happen.