Scientist – wow, that’s a big generalization.

I wonder ……?
I love science and a lot of my work is science based but sometimes I have to wonder. I mean how many people get pigeonholed into being just one thing – just one type of scientist?

I have an enquiring mind, restless hands and a distinct lack of funding and time.
And ok ….. so I like a load of different things and my interest does not lie exclusively in one field, but does that make me a worse scientist? I suppose in the strictest possible terms you would have to say yes …… yes it does.
But I still find myself asking …”is this a bad thing?”.

It’s a little like this blog’s namesake. With plenty of variation in its constituents, the good ol’ subatomic soup shares many similarities with a lot of good scientists. Having a background or knowledge in more than one area and not being too tightly focused in ones approach can, in my opinion, lead to a more holistic view when approaching certain problems. This ability to approach a problem from many different angles and be able to “think outside the box”, makes for a better scientist.
One of my biggest faults (and possibly one that is shared by many of us) is that I get bored a little too easily. Herein lies the beauty of the multi-disciplinarian. When my interest wanes in one direction it surely waxes in another.

So ….. will I give up lasers, particles, astro, rockets and other assorted project to focus on just one thing ???
No …. of course not.

Hooray for ecclectica says I !


Sometimes, its not what, its who !

Its so nice to be surprised and how often does it really happen today? I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about a small sideline project I have on the go to do with lasers. After a brief chat about my collimation issues with this HeNe beam, he happened to mention that he knew and was good friends with J R Acton creator of the Dekatron tube and one of this countries laser pioneers.

He was one of the first people to add neon to the helium lasing medium, initially to stabilise the breakdown of helium metastables to single ion ground states, thereby increasing efficiency.
Even at 91 years age this amazing chap is still sharp as a tack. His current endeavour is researching Bach and pre Bach symphonies with a view to writing his own! My friend is incredibly lucky to have such a scientific guru.
If only we were all so lucky ?!

Faster than light neutrinos or “Einstein – give the guy a break!”

So ….. these faster than light neutrinos are still setting the science world ablaze. Does this really mean we have to consign the most recognisable scientific formula in world ever to the rubbish bin ???

Personally, I think not. Well …… not quite yet anyway.
Although there have been subsequent runs from CERN to Gran Sasso that certainly appear to verify the initial findings of a neutrino stream travelling faster than light, I still think its too early to to give categorical results.
Don’t get me wrong, history is filled with instances of scientific discovery that people at first scoffed at, strongly refuted and resolutely refused to believe, but in this case, the general consensus seems to be that the error margins are currently too high between the point of particle creation and detection to give totally conclusive results.

It will be interesting to see the results of Fermilab’s Minos Plus runs which are due to begin within the next six months to a year.

In the mean time, lets cut old Einstein a little slack. He has, after all, been one of the single most influential figures in the human understanding of the way the universe works.

The walk, the glow and the quantum soup.

I suppose it all started some time ago down a dark country lane close to where I live whilst I was out walking the dog. The phone had just gone off with a text message from the wife and after reading it I became aware of the glow that the mobile phone screen was emitting.
Now having a science background, I knew a little about sub atomic “stuff” and had recently read (well nearly read) Stephen Hawking’s – Illustrated Brief History of Time, so I was familiar with the photon and particle interactions. I can only surmise at this point, that I must have started to wonder about all the interactions taking place right there under my nose !
As I waved the glowing phone screen round in figure of eights, I imagined all the emitted photons, the particle / antiparticle creation and annihilations and the creation of, what must have been, at least a few exotic particles.

It was wondorous!

Not only was it, in some small way, enlightening but it also served as a focus for what has become an interest, a change of job direction and a source of much personal scientific curiosity.
The term “quantum soup” came to me on that night to describe the trail of “stuff” that must have been left by the passage of the phone screen. This “soup” must surely have been incredibly short-lived but I owe it a lot and it still fires my imagination to this day.

So……….. where now?
Well ……… the door to the subatomic and quantum universe is cracked open – so lets take a peek 🙂

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