Buzz Aldrin: from Milano to Mars

Yesterday Buzz Aldrin was in Milano for the Wired Next Fest. The conference room was full of people, and I cannot enter in it. So I see Buzz's conference from the large screen outside in front of the stage. Even if mediated in this way, I could perceive the power of the character, the charisma, the magnetism of a man who goes by now for the nineties but who is not tired yet to point his eyes to the sky. Towards Mars, for precision!

Holistic Detective Agency

Have you ever needed a holistic detective agency? And do you know what a holistic detective agency is? If you do not know, don't panic: I am going to say what it is this strange agency.
The term ‘holistic’ refers to my [detective's] conviction that what we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. I do not concern myself with such petty things as fingerprint powder, telltale pieces of pocket fluff and inane footprints. I see the solution to each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often much more subtle and complex than we with our rough and ready understanding of the physical world might naturally suppose.
And what are its secret origins?
Well, some researchers were once conducting such an experiment [Schroedinger's cat], but when they opened up the box, the cat was neither alive nor dead but was in fact completely missing, and they called me in to investigate. I was able to deduce that nothing very dramatic had happened. The cat had merely got fed up with being repeatedly locked up in a box and occasionally gassed and had taken the first opportunity to hoof it through the window. It was for me the work of a moment to set a saucer of milk by the window and call “Bernice” in an enticing voice -- the cat’s name was Bernice, you understand -- and the cat was soon restored. A simple enough matter, but it seemed to create quite an impression in certain circles, and soon one thing led to another as they do and it all culminated in the thriving career you see before you.

JMP 58, 2: quantum abstract

I'm returning with the selections from the Journal of Mathematical Physics. I'm arranging two further post for this series for the next weeks. Stay tuned!
Alhaidari, A., & Taiwo, T. (2017). Wilson-Racah quantum system Journal of Mathematical Physics, 58 (2) DOI: 10.1063/1.4975138 (arXiv)
Using a recent formulation of quantum mechanics without a potential function, we present a four-parameter system associated with the Wilson and Racah polynomials. The continuum scattering states are written in terms of the Wilson polynomials whose asymptotics give the scattering amplitude and phase shift. On the other hand, the finite number of discrete bound states are associated with the Racah polynomials.
Dorsch, F. (2017). Accumulation rate of bound states of dipoles generated by point charges in strained graphene Journal of Mathematical Physics, 58 (2) DOI: 10.1063/1.4976201 (arXiv)
We consider strained graphene, modelled by the two-dimensional massive Dirac operator, with potentials corresponding to charge distributions with vanishing total charge, non-vanishing dipole moment and finitely many point charges of subcritical coupling constants located in the graphene sheet. We show that the bound state energies accumulate exponentially fast at the edges of the spectral gap by determining the leading order of the accumulation rate.

Physics Education vol.52: Ciênsação and others educational papers

One of the most interesting paper published on the last issue of Physics Education is Ciênsação: gaining a feeling for sciences about a learning repository for high school theachers.
The project born for brazilian schools, but I think that it could be useful for allo teachers in the world. For example in most educational systems there are the same reasons against the introduction of hands-on experiments in classroom:
  • lack of time;
  • insecurity and lack of training;
  • lack of resources and infrastructure.
So the repository Ciênsação propose to all teachers some interesting and simple experiments. It try
(...) to convince teachers that short experiments — which may take just a couple of minutes or even seconds to conduct — can smoothly transit to productive class discussions, in which students simultaneously advance their fact knowledge, deepen their understanding and foster their scientific skills.
If we see some experiments (for example the brief activity about magnetism), we can apreciate the simple integration of the experiment in the usual lesson with few materials.
I think that the phylosophy of Ciênsação is very near to my (past) teaching activities:
The research tasks, around which Ciênsação experiments are built, invite students to actively do science, instead of merely reproducing known results and confirming textbook claims. Giving students a few minutes to pursue such a task autonomously in small groups, allows them not only to experience the excitement of discovery, but also to experience science as a creative activity, as a craft they can master, rather than the privilege of an elite called 'scientists'.
For theachers that are intrested to sbmit their teaching activities, there's also a submission form.
Henrique Abreu de Oliveira, M., & Fischer, R. (2017). Ciênsação: gaining a feeling for sciences Physics Education, 52 (2) DOI: 10.1088/1361-6552/aa5430
And now some others interesting papers:

Feynman in comics

with @estuan about #Feynman #Ottaviani #Myrick #comics #physics
Italian version written with Maria-Angela Silleni.
Feynman by Ottaviani and Myrick, reported by Maria Popova as one of the top 11 scientific popular books of 2012, is a splendid example of how to make interesting science. Even with the comics.
Telling a man’s life is always an arduous and difficult task. So it is necessary to make choices, often focusing on successes and leaving aside failures, especially if you talk about a physicist who has been interested in the most disparate fields within his specialization.
This is the some idea that Lawrence Krauss has dealt with the life of Richard Feynman in Quantum Man and the same spirit seems to animate Feynman, the graphic novel by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick.
Introducing Feynman?
After the series of Introducing, a hybrid of illustrated and comic books about science, one of the most effective comics dedicated to science, brings the signature of Ottaviani, which, on the pages of Suspended In Language, with the contribution of the comic artist Leland Purvis, told the life of Niels Bohr, the master of the Copenhagen School, whose interpretation of quantum mechanics dominated during the first steps of this new approach of physics to nature.
Ottaviani knows very well the risks in comic book science genre: in particular, falling into teaching and slamming the reader into boredom is always around the corner; so thanks to an episode narrative (which is also a limit, as we shall see below), accompanied by synthetic drawings, the volume reaches the disclosure purpose without betraying the aspect of entertainment.
A great role in the success of the graphic novel is dued by the subject: Feynman, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, was an eccentric character with a strong sense of humor and impatient with social conventions. Thanks to these features he often found himself in embarrassing situations with unexpected consequences. A passionate bongo player and amateur sketcher of naked women, picked up his two-volume adventures, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, which wrote to seem not overly serious: and most of the episodes narrated in the comic are getting from his autobiographical stories.

1st Italian Astrostatistics School

Astrostatistics is a discipline which spans astrophysics, statistical analysis and data mining. It is used to process the vast amount of data produced by automated scanning of the cosmos, to characterize complex datasets, and to link astronomical data to astrophysical theory. Many branches of statistics are involved in astronomical analysis including nonparametrics, multivariate regression and multivariate classification, time series analysis, and especially Bayesian inference.
The registration to the 1st Italian Astrostatistics School is open. Up to 35 members; until Monday, priority is given to doctoral students. From Monday, if you are interested, all can register to the school.