Monday, 21 October 2019

Prize-winning 288 Bar and Wok

I often buy the Observer on Sundays and usually don't read the Food Monthly magazine on those weeks when it appears.  Yesterday, however, I did open it to enjoy reading about the prize given to 288 Bar and Wok in Cheltenham in Observer Food Monthly's awards, in the category "Best Cheap Eats".  The owners, Jody and Pak Wai Hung are friends of mine, dating back to school days, where I first met Jody.  We haven't been brilliant at keeping in touch (story of my life) but we stayed with them a couple of years ago when we were in Cheltenham and had a lovely couple of days with them and their family.  And lots of great food.

One of the other winners of an award (in the category of Best Food Personality) is Jamie Oliver.  I half-knew Jamie from school.  He was in the year below me, and I certainly knew who he was, but I can't claim that we were friends.  I knew his wife Jools a bit better, as she came to my school in the sixth form (like Jody did - it was a boys school up to sixth form) and was then in the same year as me.  

It's a funny coincidence for a so-so state comprehensive school in Essex that I doubt very many people have picked up on, that it produced two winners in this years Observer Food Monthly awards.  Anyway, congratulations to Jody, Pak Wai, and Jamie.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Fission in York

Just had a busy and productive three days in York, attending a workshop in which we (the attendees) boldly have been trying to hash out the remaining problems in the theory of nuclear fission.  It's one of the most complicated processes that nuclei undergo, so the remaining problems in terms of a fully microscopic quantum theory are more or less "everything".

We will be producing a white paper as a statement of where we see the future of the field in due course, with a deadline for producing something in just a couple of weeks away to make sure we don't let the discussions be forgotten.  I excused myself from leading the coordiantion of part I am most involved in as I will be on paternity leave at an unspecified (but soon) future date.

York is a lovely city, and I didn't get to see much of it this time.  The meeting was in the King's Manor, an old mansion in the centre of town that now belongs to the University of York, and I stayed very close, between there and the Minster, so I did get a little bit of vicarious tourism in.  The picture is of King's Manor.  

Friday, 11 October 2019

The lithium-beryllium wars, continued

In May I posted about a public spat playing out on the arXiv between one member of a (former) collaboration, M. Gai of UConn, and other members, led by D Schumann of PSI.

My previous post was prompted by a lengthy note submitted to the arXiv by Gai (1905.06999) in response to a brief note by Schumann et al. (1904.03023v1).  

Earlier this week Schumann et al. superseded their note with version 2 (1904.03023v2), which is a substantially different document, going in to detail with an analysis of the history of the project and where they contend there are scientific errors.  Alongside this is some general statements about scientific research (e.g "It  is  the  dream  of  every  serious  researcher  to  contribute  with something  essential to the progress in  his/her  field  of  science.") as prelude to a continuation of the personal argument against Gai in terms of appropriate scientific and collaborative behaviour – so we may well see a response from Gai in due course. 

I find it tempting to read all this stuff slightly hiding my eyes behind my fingers, to avoid seeing things that make me cringe too much.  In the concluding section, Schumann writes "We have also to admit, that, making the entire quarrel public by posting comments and reply to comments further and further on, is not the way one should handle friction in a collaboration. These problems should have been solved internally before publishing anything."   Well, quite.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Proceedings of the EFB conference - open refereeing is go

I'm enjoying my temporary role as guest editor of the proceedings of the European Few Body Conference that we organised here at Surrey last month.  Because we are publishing the proceedings in SciPostProceedings, using their open refereeing model, the submitted papers are there for anyone to comment on. 

I'm expecting most of the submissions to be made closer to the deadline, but if you want to, feel free to look at the following and make comments online:

Roy Glauber and Asymptotic Diffraction Theory by Per Ostlund, is a mini review of one of Roy Glauber's achievements along with some biographical reminiscences.

Properties of heavy mesons at finite temperature by Gloria MontaƱa, Angels Ramos, and Laura Tolos, describes the authors' effective hadronic theory as applied to heavy (charmed) mesons

Study of deuteron-proton backward elastic scattering at intermediate energies by Nadezhda Ladygina discusses d-p elastic scattering using a relativistic multiple scattering framework, and

A time-dependent Hartree-Fock study of triple-alpha dynamics by P. D. Stevenson and J. L. Willerton uses a mean field dynamic approach to study the fusion of helium to form carbon.

If you feel qualified to comment on any of these, please go ahead.  They are all sent to a nominated referee, too, but open refereeing means that anyone can contribute. 

 The picture attached to this post is from the first paper listed, and shows Roy Glauber (winner of 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics) from the collection of the author of the proceeding article, Per Ostlund, as featured in the article.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Dr Lennard-Jones

I was attending an appointment at the local hospital earlier this week, and one of the doctors present was called Dr Lennard-Jones.  I immediately thought of the Lennard-Jones potential, such a standard part of physics and chemistry that we teach it to our undergraduates, and named after Sir John Lennard-Jones (d.1954), who was a professor of physics at Bristol and Cambridge.

I wasn't sure if it was okay to ask if she (the doctor) was any relation, but during some small talk it came up what I did for a living, which was a way in for me to ask if she was any relation of the famous physicist.  The answer was yes, unsurprisingly (since presumably this particular combination of names has only been double-barrelled once).  If I remember what she said rightly, he was her great-grandfather.   She said it had been a while since anyone had asked and it was always nice when they did.  

I thought it was nice, too, to make that link, and to meet a real-life Lennard-Jones.  The picture is the famous 6-12 Lennard-Jones potential, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

It was 20 years ago today...

More or less twenty years ago today (I can't remember the exact date) I finished writing, and submitted my D.Phil. dissertation.  I was a graduate student at the University of Oxford though I was working on a project co-supervised at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee, and I spent most of the last year of my studies out there.  I had to be back in Oxford to submit the right kind of hard-bound copies in the right place at the right time, which I duly did.  

It was a busy month-long trip back to the UK:  After submitting my D.Phil. I had the viva exam, then I got married, went on honeymoon, and then went back to the US to start a postdoctoral position at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.   It seems like such a long time ago.  I suppose it is a long time ago.  This week is freshers' week on campus here at the University of Surrey.  Most of the arriving students were born after the events described above. My youngest son is a toddler; no longer a baby, and increasing competent with language and reasoning.  He was born after the referendum on leaving the EU, and knows nothing of the halcyon time before the vote.  I wonder how old he will be by the time the situation is resolved.

Last night I came across an old photo of me from when I was a PhD student, and I attach it here.  This is probably about mid-way through, so more like 1997 than 1999, and shows me dressed in a Tennessee T-shirt in proper school colours.