Archive for September, 2011

News from the Opera

September 22, 2011 1 comment

Yes, classical music and opera are a nice topic for blogging… but this time I’m talking about the news which have hit the press in past few hours – as Tommaso Dorigo already announced few days ago, the Opera experiment (see here) gave some unexpected results, which will be reported tomorrow – seems like some neutrinos traveled too fast – superluminal speed. Webcast from CERN will be here at 1600 h local time.

It reminds me a bit of the frenzy concerning the NASA conference I also blogged about here – I guess that’s the price of the internet era, science penetrates the news and always sounds sensational when put on the headlines (recently New Scientist had a story about Michael Aschbacher receiving a prize for his completion of the gigantic proof of Classification theorem for finite groups. One news-portal made that news sound like the theorem has been proved yesterday, and not 7 years ago, emphasizing the size of the proof and making it sound like a miracle)

Update: The Opera team has put their paper on arXiv here. Luboš Motl is covering the subject on his blog ever since Dorigo made the first leak, so you can get the latest info there.

Update no. 2: The conference is over and it seems that an extensive search for flaws in the experiment begins. Seems like Leonard Hofstadter is no longer in a relationship with Albert Einstein. We’ll see how long is that relationship crisis going to last.

Categories: Uncategorized


September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Who is this?

I used to avoid conferences. It was simply something I was not interested in, especially because I wasn’t in position to visit conferences specializing in my area of research. Still, I decided to go to one and present my paper.

As a former participant in international mathematical competitions, it is quite natural for me to compare the conference atmosphere with one on IMO. There are some similarities – certain number of people one would call ‘geeks’ gathering in one place plus their teachers who can’t take the title geek due to their age, international company, exchange of ideas – but still, there is something missing. I’m not sure what it is.

Oh, before I forget – there’s one nice anecdote I have to share. Helmut Bölcskei was the first speaker at the conference and he gave an interesting lecture – which was made even more interesting when he warned the audience that he had made an error in his presentation – and that the audience will have to report what the error is when the lecture is over. Only hint he provided was – it is in one of the pictures.

Once the lecture was over, audience remained quiet. Professor Bölcskei returned to a slide with photos of three scientists and revealed that two photos were correctly captioned, but the one shown in this post wasn’t. He just said – it is one great Croatian mathematician, but you probably don’t even know he’s Croatian! (remark: this conference took place in Zadar, Croatia).

Then I realized who it is – I jumped off my chair in the back row and shouted: Vilim Feller! That was the correct answer… and I felt good – an amateur historian of mathematics found a way to show his modest knowledge at an Electrical Engineering conference!