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2005 May 24 17:04

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Re: [vox-tech] tell gnuplot to use a single X11 window
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Re: [vox-tech] tell gnuplot to use a single X11 window

On Tue 24 May 05,  3:10 AM, Richard Harke <@earthlink.net> said:
> On Monday 23 May 2005 15:37, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> > > any demos of the output that you mentioned?
> > >
> > > Thanks,
> >
> > Yeah, sure thing.  Download it here:
> >
> >    http://www.dirac.org/p/dylan.tar.bz2
> Neat, definitively.

AFAIK, what you saw is the first numerical demonstration of quantum
mechanical wavefunction collapse, and the first known numerical solution to
the Schrodinger Newton quantum gravity scheme.

> Was this a part of your dissertation?

Yeah, if you change "was" to "is".   I'm still writing, but hope to be done
in about 2 weeks.  Part of the problem is that I'm firmly, utterly, and
completely a *theoretical* physicist, but my dissertation's main thesis is
the proposal of an experiment to disprove a theory of quantum gravity.

Unfortunately, experimentalists haven't been doing mass-on-spring or Young's
double slit experiments for 2 or 3 hundred years.  Modern experiments are
considerably complicated, and have a theoretical framework that is very
challenging.  I know the gist of modern day matter-wave experiments, but I
need to become an expert very quickly (if anybody really understands the
Talbot effect, the Lau effect or Talbot-Lau interferometry, please email

One thing I've learned in grad school is respect for experimentalists.  The
types of theory a *real* experimentalist does (not a grad student performing
someone else's experiment) requires theory that's often less abstract but
more complicated than what a theoretician does.  As an example of this, pick
up any book on electricity and magnetism.  Very easy to expand the Coulomb
potential if you know the theory of expanding 1/|x-x'| in terms of
orthogonal functions like spherical harmonics.   But try to use the theory
to calculate something useful, like the potential at the tip of a
semi-spherical probe or even the electric field off-axis of a solenoid, and
you have a problem that would make most theoreticians pee in their pants.

Also, it didn't help that my main workstation died last week (hence, my
recent postings on vox-tech).  Luckily, I back everything up like a crazed
maniac on steroids.  I lost nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Except time.

> Are you ever going to post your dissertation to your web site?  Your web
> site looks like it hasn't been updated since you went east.

That's pretty much true.  I had a full time professorship at a local college
teaching physics and calculus.  You can't get away with the shenanigans that
some professors do at UC Davis at community college.  Try it, and you'll
have a 90% fail rate.  They definitely need a lot of hand holding because
half of them are woefully unprepared for classes in math and physics.

The metric that community colleges use to indicate success is graduation
rates.  High graduation rate == college effectiveness, so it behooves them
to push as many people through as possible as fast as possible.  It looks
good for the college and they get loads of federal/state $$$ to do that.
That also means when you teach calc, you have a class that couldn't graph
y = mx + b without a graphing calculator.  BTW, it's not just community
colleges --- many high schools are also guilty of this.

The punchline is -- I didn't have much time to work on my dissertation in
the past year.  I really tried, but it was beyond difficult.  The job was
great experience, and is good resume material.  But was terrible for getting
my thesis done.

Luckily my position was eliminated, and I declined summer adjuncting, so
I've been going full steam on my thesis.  Losing the job was the best thing
that ever happened to me.

I definitely plan on posting the dissertation.  I'll post an announcement.
You'll probably hear me yell "huzzah" all the way from NJ.  ;)   I think the
dissertation is also worth 2 or 3 physics papers, and perhaps another 2 or 3
papers in some kind of numerical research journal.  Maybe computational
fluids.  I've been thinking that some Dr. Dobbs articles might be
appropriate too.  A lot of neat stuff went into solving this.  And the whole
thing was done, from start to finish, using nothing but open source tools.
In fact, in my dissertation, I spend a few paragraphs explaining why it
would be detrimental from a *technical view* to use certain proprietary

I'll post those papers too, including latex source.   ;)

> Its ok to be modest but don't over do it. One of my instructors told me
> he was told he could not be a theoretical physicist because he
> wasn't arrogant enough.

I've heard that before.  I think "busy" often gets confused with arrogant.
We normally talk with a daemon running in our head that filters or
rearranges what comes out of our mouth.  So instead of saying "you are an
idiot and have your head up your ass", most of us would say "I think you're
looking at the problem the wrong way".

Most successful researchers don't seem to want that daemon taking CPU
cycles.  It's like running portmap when there's no RPC services.  They want
to end whatever interaction they're engaged in quickly so they can get back
to work.  It gets interpreted as arrogance, but I don't think it is.

Honestly, the only people I met at UCD that I'd label as "arrogant" would be
some of the grad students.

Wow.  Sorry for the long email!


Every theory is killed sooner or later, but if the theory has good in it,
that good is embodied and continued in the next theory. -- Albert Einstein

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