Tuesday, 10 January 2023

How to pronounce "Nuclear"

 I'm at the Institute of Physics building in London attending a community meeting on nuclear physics.   Among all the interesting and/or useful information I've picked up from the talks, I've noticed that the word "nuclear" is being pronounced 'nucular' by some members of the community.  It's something of a joke in The Simpsons that Homer Simpson is so uncouth that even though he is an operator at a nuclear power plant, he thinks the word should be pronounced "nucular" and not "nuclear".  I don't wince like I once did when I hear it pronounced that way.  It seems that it is simply how some people hear it / are able to say it.  Neither OED or Chambers dictionaries have caught up with this yet, but I suppose they will.  The American Merriam-Webster dictionary has it, and lists it as non-standard.

It still stands out to me when I hear nucular.  Perhaps I need to start using it myself, until I am completely at one with it.

Friday, 6 January 2023

Welcome Abhishek


We have a new postdoc who started this week in the nuclear theory group at Surrey.  His name is Abhishek, and that's him in the picture.  It is his given name, and he has no surname, a practice I did not realise was common in India. He says that there are possible neutral surnames (like Kumar) that sometimes get used by people with no surname for the purposes of filling out forms, but in India it is not usually necessary as e.g. one can have an Indian passport with a single given name as one's full name. 

That he has a single name is no problem in publishing scientific papers, where you can call youself what you like (see his latest preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/2210.08757).  It can make it hard to search for his papers, though, with Abhishek being a reasonably common Indian name.

It is more problematic with University systems which require a first name and surname to exist.  It seems that the University has made up an initial for him and used Abhishek as a surname.  What a shame the system cannot cope with other cultural norms. 

Sunday, 25 December 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

 It's Christmas Day!  Merry Christmas, people spending this morning catching up on blogs.  As part of a Christmas message from my colleague Aru in India, he sent some old pictures of me, and my Surrey co-workers Paddy Regan and Phil Walker, which I copy here.  How much younger we all looked!









Friday, 16 December 2022

Conferences in 2023

In the days before the pandemic I wasin the habit of keeping track of conferences coming up that I would potentially think about attending (or perhaps thought readers might).   Since there are such things happening in the world again, then I figured I'd resume the tradition.  I'll edit the post throughout the year as new things come up.  

Since I now work on a combination of nuclear physics and quantum computing, I'm likelt to post conferences about either of those areas, especially if I or a member of my group are actually going.

06/02/2023–11/02/2023: VI Topical Workshop on Modern Aspects in Nuclear Structure: "The Many Facets of Nuclear Structure", Bormio, Italy
A regular workshop organised by the nuclear physics group in Milan.  A general conference where I am sure to find a welcome and some interesting topics.  As I understand, the venue is also a ski resort, and there is ample time in the programme for skiing.  This is not something that particularly attracts me, though I dare say I could get into it.  In any case, no matter any other thoughts about it, the registration deadline has passed. [website]

04/04/2023–06/04/2023: IoP Nuclear Physics Conference, York, UK
This is the annual national conference organised by the IoP Nuclear Physics Group and the designated host University.  We (Surrey) did it last year, and this year, the honour has fallen to York.  As I rule I try to go to the IoP conference to meet up with the community, and support my students who are attending, and to get the latest news in nuclear physics research done in the UK, and the political news coming out of the STFC session that is usually included.  This year, though, I've already booked a family holiday for these dates in the kids' Easter holidays. [website]

22/05/2023–26/05/2023: Information and Statistics in Nuclear Experiment and Theory (ISNET-9), St Louis, USA
Part of series whose mission is to bring more sophisticated statistical analysis to nuclear physics, both in experiment and theory.  I was involved in co-organising an earlier incarnation of the workshop, and have attended a few of them, though my actual research work on the topic is embarrasingly light.  I'd like to attend, and feel a moral obligation to do so as part of the ISNET advisory board, but I am a little uncertain that I can justify the trip [website]

11/06/2023–16/06/2023: Collective Motion in Nuclei under Extreme Conditions (COMEX7), Catania, Italy
This is very on-topic for me, through my interest in different kind of collective state explored using time-dependent calculations.  I've been working on such stuff recently, which is poised for acceptence in a journal, judging by the latest (final, surely) referee report, and I think there's a good chance I will try to get to COMEX7 to present the work, if they accept my abstract.  I've been at other COMEXes, most recently COMEX6 in 2018. [website]

19/11/2023–24/11/2023: FUSION23, Shizuoka, Japan
A delayed conference which was supposed to be called FUSION20 before it got cancelled in the Covid-19 pandemic.  I had submitted an abstract for FUSION20 on work I had done looking at the effect of the surface energy on fusion properties [here].  I'll have to decide if I want to pick back up on that and finish the work to present it at the conference and then write up as a longer paper.  As with COMEX, mentioned above, I've been to a few conferences in this series already, as it's a core part of my traditional nuclear physics research. [website]


Friday, 9 December 2022

Frosty, the campus

 With a cold clear frosty start to the day yesterday, the campus was looking quite pretty.  I took a picture from one of the covered bridges between buildings (by dangerously holding my brand new phone outside the window with restricted opening) and here it is:

Lots of other people posted nice pictures on social media.  Here's our Vice Chancellor with a view of some frosty wolves:


and another from my colleague in virology


Friday, 18 November 2022

Congratulations Kieran Flanagan - 2022 Ernest Rutherford Medal Winner

 The 2022 Institute of Physics Ernest Rutherford Medal recipient has been announced, and it is Prof Kieran Flanagan from the University of Manchester.  Prof Flanagan is a leader in the world of laser spectroscopy for understanding exotic (short-lived) nuclei through the hyperfine interaction in their atomic spectra.  The experiments give among the most detailed precise values we have for nuclear properties - particularly the charge radii.  Though the method is indirect, in that it is atomic electron spectra that are being measured to deduce what is happening to the nucleus, the theory linkning the measurement to the nuclear properties is reasonably free of model dependence and the method has become a standard one peformed at severeal labs across the world.  

There is a longer citation on the IoP announcement.  Well done Kieran!



Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Bdrmm in the Boileroom

 Last night's cultural activity was a visit to the Boileroom venue in Guildford for a gig by Bdrmm (pronounced Bedroom).  They are a band that I didn't know particularly well when I bought the tickets but I'd come across them from emails from their record label, and had a listen on Bandcamp.  They fall into the shoegaze genre - one that came into prominence in the late 1980s by bands like Slowdive, Pale Saints, Moose, and My Bloody Valentine.  The popularity of the sub-genre appears to have waned since that initial heyday, though it may be just that my finger is not on the (slow) pulse, and indeed Wikipedia points out that there is, since the late 2010s, a renewed interest in the form of the "nu gaze" and "blackgaze" scenes.  

Anyway, I enjoyed the gig a lot.  They built up a beautiful droning wall of effects-pedal-enhanced guitar sound, managing to weave some catchy songs into the noise.  They seemed like a lovely group of people whose delight and surprise that a packed-out venue of people actually wanted to come and hear them.

Here's a picture from my ageing phone, which struggles to focus in low light.  I eyed, slightly enviously, all those people in front of me who were holding their phones up and getting nice clear shots