Monday, 31 December 2018

Books of 2018

Since signing up with Goodreads, it has become easier to present a list of the books I have read during a year.  I seem to have missed posting this the last couple of years (since 2015).  Thanks, too, to Goodreads, I seem to be able to copy and paste a list of the books, with little pictures, hyperlinks, and the date I finished the book.  For many of them, I've written a review on Goodreads, which you might be able to find if you follow the book title link

Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #6)



Dec 30, 2018 


Relativity and Common Sense: A New Approach to Einstein



Dec 24, 2018 


Home Fire



Dec 14, 2018 


We Have Always Lived in the Castle



Nov 20, 2018 


Armadale



Nov 04, 2018 


A Legacy of Spies



Oct 27, 2018 


Finding April



Oct 24, 2018 


The Shortest History of Germany



Oct 11, 2018 


Lincoln in the Bardo



Sep 21, 2018 


A Matter of Choices: Memoirs of a Female Physicist



Sep 16, 2018 


Home: A Time Traveller's Tales from Britain's Prehistory



Sep 10, 2018 


Kent Dialect



Aug 31, 2018 


Don Camillo And The Devil



Aug 30, 2018 


Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race



Aug 21, 2018 


Kim



Aug 09, 2018 


The Last Wild



Aug 08, 2018 


Learn German with Stories: Karneval in K�ln - 10 Short Stories for Beginners



Jul 31, 2018 


Radiation Diaries: Cancer, Memory and Fragments of a Life in Words



Jul 23, 2018 


The Young Atheist's Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God



Jul 03, 2018 


The Old Curiosity Shop



Jun 08, 2018 


Autumn



May 17, 2018 


Peter Pan & Wendy



May 09, 2018 


Deerbrook



May 03, 2018 


The Book of Wonders



Apr 23, 2018 


Walks with Walser



Apr 18, 2018 


Ivanhoe



Mar 27, 2018 


Girl in a Band: A Memoir



Mar 16, 2018 


What's Next?: Even Scientists Can’t Predict the Future – or Can They?



Mar 09, 2018 


How Not To Be a Boy



Feb 15, 2018 


The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4)



Feb 14, 2018 


Black Sheep



Feb 13, 2018 


In the Heart of the Sea: The Epic True Story That Inspired Moby-Dick



Jan 31, 2018 


Walking



Jan 27, 2018 


The Epic of Lofoten



Jan 25, 2018 



Sunday, 30 December 2018

Roy Glauber 1925–2018

I saw (initially from Peter Woit's blog) that Roy Glauber died a few days ago.  Glauber's name is known to nuclear physicists for his approximate treatment of scattering theory which can be applied to nuclear collisions at high energies.  It was an ingredient in some of the seminal work from the nuclear theory group in Surrey when we became the go-to people for the reaction theory needed to understand the reaction of halo nuclei, and the extraction of their sizes. I say "we" – this was slightly before my time at the group.  Here is a paper by Jim Al-Khalili and Jeff Tostevin from 1996 on the subject of nuclear sizes, making use of Glauber theory. 

Nuclear Physics was a relatively small part of Glauber's work.  His biggest thing, at least the thing that got him the Nobel Prize, was his foundational work on quantum optics.  The picture attached to this post is Glauber at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in 2005, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Friday, 28 December 2018

2019 Nuclear Physics Meetings


There was a spate of emails leading up to Christmas from conference and workshop organisers sending reminders or announcements about their conferences.  I thought I would assemble the details, along with some other relevant meetings coming up in low-energy nuclear physics here.  It will help me decide which I might attend.  I'll add more 2019 meetings as I hear about them.

25/02–27/02: ENSAR2 NUSPRASEN Workshop, GSI, Germany
Very much a workshop by the sounds of it, with an aim to stimulate cooperation between laboratories working on superheavy element synthesis research.  The blurb says "It is the opportunity to dwell on topics which are not usually treated in regular conferences or collaboration meetings" [website]

25/03–26/03: Workshop AGATA@LNL for stable beams, Padua, Italy
The first of two meetings in Padua on this list.  This one primarily for those interested in undertaking gamma ray spectroscopy experiments in Legnaro.  If I go to any meetings on this date, it'll be the next one in the list.  [website]

25/03–27/03: 54th ASRC International Workshop "Nuclear Fission and Structure of Exotic Nuclei", Tokai, Japan
From the website: "The meeting will mainly be devoted to new experimental and theoretical achievements in fission, super-heavy nuclei, nuclear reaction and structure of exotic nuclei. Especially, our group is driving a dedicated program using the rare target material, einsteinium-254, for which new results and new proposals will be discussed."  I've set some calculations with einsteinium–254 going to see whether I might find anything interesting enough to talk about.  If so, I'll tell the organisers and see if they'd like to hear my talk.  [website]

19/05–24/05: PLATAN 2019, Mainz, Germany
I didn't put the whole title of this one in the bold header line, because its name is "Merger of the Poznan Meeting on Lasers and Trapping Devices in Atomic Nuclei Research and the International Conference on Laser Probing".  I've been tangentially involved in work related to laser trapping and excitation of nuclei in the form of calculations of isotope shifts, but it's not something I've done much of lately, and I don't expect to attend this one.  [website]

27/05–31/05: 7th Workshop on Level Density and Gamma Ray Strength, Oslo, Norway
I've been to one of these before, in 2015.  The lab in Oslo have a technique (named after them) to measure the quantities used to name this workshop.  I can calculate them, or at least closely related things, and it's not crazy to think of going.  And Oslo is lovely.  [website]

20/05–21/05: TNP19 Theoretical Nuclear Physics in Padova, Padua, Italy
The subtitle is "a meeting in honor of Prof. Andrea Vitturi" and the meeting is organised due to his retirement.  I suppose the attendees will be largely drawn from his collaborators, and those whose research overlaps strongly.  Vitturi has done a lot of work on giant resonances (among many other things), which is relevant to me.  [website]

23/06–29/06: International Workshop on Nuclear Theory #38, Rila Mountains, Bulgaria
The annual workshop organised by the theoretical nuclear physics group in Sofia.  I've been to this a few times and always like to come.  I had to stop when I took over running the MPhys Research Year programme at Surrey, as this meeting is always during our exam board meeting and my attendance became more or less compulsory.   [website]

01/07–05/07: ANPC African Nuclear Physics Conference, Kruger National Park, South Africa
I heard about this when attending COMEX6 in Cape Town in October.  It's a broad conference of fundamental and applied nuclear physics which I'm sure I'd enjoy, and it's in a lovely location.  I've used their website photo on this post above.  I can't really justify going, though.  [website]

29/07–02/08: INPC2019, Glasgow, Scotland
As the conference flyer says, "INPC is the biggest conference in the world for fundamental nuclear physics".  And it's in the UK this year, so the chances of me going are very high.  And it's in one of the UK nicest cities, so that helps too.  I like INPC, with its very broad coverage of nuclear physics areas.  I end up going to a combination of sessions which are right up my street, and others which broaden my horizons.  [website]

25/08–30/08: 6th International Conference on the Chemistry and Physics of the Transactinide Elements (TAN 19), Wilhelmshaven, Germany
I haven't been to editions 1-5 in this series.  I don't expect I an add this to my list of conferences to attend, though fusion reactions (leading to superheavy nuclei) is one thing I work on.  [website]

01/09–07/09:  XXXVI Mazurian Lakes Conference, Piaski, Poland
Every year there is a large nuclear physics conference in Poland – either the Zakopane conference or the Mazurian lakes conference.  I've never been to either.  Maybe one year, but not this, since it clashes with the next conference, which I am co-organising.  [website]

02/09–06/09: 24th European conference on few-body problems in physics, Guildford, UK
Well, I'm a local organiser of this, so I will definitely attend, though more for the scientific interest than because I am any kind of expert with few-body systems.  Mostly I deal with nuclei made of many (rather than few) particles which means particular kinds of approximation in theoretical study, while "few-body" implies a different method of solution.  [website]

09/09–13/09: HIAS2019 Heavy Ion Accelerator Symposium, Canberra, Australia
A long way away from me, in Canberra, but this annual meeting all about heavy-ion reactions of the sort that can be performed at the Canberra accelerator is very relevant to me through my time-dependent Hartree-Fock work.  This year, I (as coordinator of the Surrey MPhys Research Year) have placed two students for research work in Canberra, and I will have to visit them roughly at that time of year, so it wouldn't be crazy to make my visit coincide with the symposium.

15/09–20/09: Nuclear Physics in Astrophysics IX, Frankfurt, Germany
I've been involved with work on nuclear physics for neutron stars, actually going back to my PhD a long time ago which included calculating properties of predicted neutron stars from a particular form of the nuclear interaction.  While I've also done follow-up things more recently, I don't think I will be able to present anything sufficiently interesting and on-topic here.  Of course, attending conferences is more about learning new things than telling everyone else your latest results, but without the latter, it's harder to justify attending.  [website]

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Pictures and Slides from COMEX6

The organisers of the COMEX6 conference which I attended earlier this year have just sent me an email with a link to the slides of presentations, and the photo gallery from the official conference photographer

I pass on a direct link to my slides if you should want them, and I post the nicest picture of me (on the right, with my colleague Bastian Schuetrumpf from GSI on the left)

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Blogger and Google+ comments

Back when I started this blog the main two choices of platform were Blogger or WordPress.  I probably chose the wrong option in going for Blogger, but okay.  

Then Blogger, owned by google, had the option of having its comments managed by Google+.  I'd had a few issues with comments so I thought "why not?".  Again, probably the wrong choice.  Now Google+ is about to be retired, and I am wondering about turning off the "manage comments with google+" option on the blog.  Presumably this will be turned off by force in a few months.  That means all the comments made in the last 6 years or so will be lost, which would be a bit of a disaster.  

Do any readers know of plans to migrate Google+ comments to Blogger comments?  I haven't been able to find anything out by searching with any well-known search engines.

edit: Having tried to search for more information about this, I realise that the way I'd had it set up meant that only users of Google+ were able to leave comments on the blog.  Oh.  That's not what I wanted these last 6 years.  I've just switched off the Google+ link.  Comment away, non-Google+ folk.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Look at the number two in figure number one

In case any readers of this blog missed it (as I did) from when it did the rounds on twitter, I point you at this post in the retraction watch blog.  It points out a figure in a Nature group journal article published in January  which features a piece of shit.  If one zooms in on the aforementioned piece of shit, you see that it bears a likeness of Donald Trump.  Fancy!

From Chiou & Bergey, Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 1975 (2018)
doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20427-9

Monday, 3 December 2018

Google vs ISI

Following occasional posts in the past (here, here, here) about the functioning of different publication citation databases,  I thought I'd look at the latest state of play by comparing Google Scholar with ISI.  I didn't want to be overwhelmed with a unwieldy data set, so I restricted my analysis to set of papers with a modest citation profile (i.e. those co-authored by me).  The graph below shows my papers, indexed in order according to decreasing number of citations as judged by ISI:
Looking at the most cited papers, it doesn't look like there's a terribly strong correlation between the two databases, though the general trend across the whole slew of publications looks more reasonable with a few notable inconsistencies.  

As researchers and Universities get ready for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (sic), they will be forced to play a game in which citation databases will party inform the panels.  Two possible database options seem to disagree with each other quite radically.  I don't know if the Physics sub-panel will count citations.  The published draft guidelines say:

and that 
which is quite soon.  Still, despite (probably) making use of citation data in deciding what universities' research to fund, they add, for clarity:
hmm.

update: I can't help playing around a bit with the data.  If I group the publications by journal, then it looks like PRC (Physical Review C) is measured most erratically between the two databases, with data from JPG (Journal of Physics G) also showing quite a few difference of opposite sign. In the plot, the thick black bars show the difference between the two databases for each paper.  Journal name abbreviations are shown where there are at least two papers in that journal.



update 2: I see from the REF website that ISI is to be the chosen database of REF2021