Poetry: Dynamical Variables and Observables

The lines of the following poem are phrases selected from consecutive pages of the second chapter of Paul Dirac’s Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Fourth Edition (Revised), Dynamical Variables and Observables. we may look upon the passage for the triple product We therefore make the general rule in spite of this fundamental difference which conforms with…

Poetry: The Principle of Superposition

The lines of the following poem are phrases selected from consecutive pages of the first chapter of Paul Dirac’s Principles of Quantum Mechanics, Fourth Edition (Revised), The Principle of Superposition. ~ one would be inclined to think There must certainly be some internal motion from general philosophical grounds we cannot expect to find any causal…

Pendulum

I was reading a scholarly thesis about Austria’s history of energy engineering and politics. Our only nuclear power plant was built and ready to go at the end of the 1970s. Only after it was completed a referendum was held, and 50.5% of voters decided against ever putting it into operation. The plant turned into…

Computers, Science, and History Thereof

I am reading three online resources in parallel – on the history and the basics of computing, computer science, software engineering, and the related culture and ‘philosophy’. An accidental combination I find most enjoyable. Joel on Software: Joel Spolsky’s blog – a collection of classic essays. What every developer needs to know about Unicode. New terms…

Ploughing Through Theoretical Physics Textbooks Is Therapeutic

And finally science confirms it, in a sense. Again and again, I’ve harping on this pet theory of mine: At the peak of my immersion in the so-called corporate world, as a super-busy bonus miles-collecting consultant, I turned to the only solace: Getting up (even) earlier, and starting to re-read all my old mathematics and…

Learning General Relativity

Math blogger Joseph Nebus does another A – Z series of posts, explaining technical terms in mathematics. He asked readers for their favorite pick of things to be covered in this series, and I came up with General Covariance. Which he laid out in this post – in his signature style, using neither equations nor…

Social Debt (Tech Professional’s Anecdotes)

I have enjoyed Ben Horowitz’ book The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Farnamstreet’s review is perfect so I will not attempt at writing one. I will focus on one idea I found most intriguing. I read Horowitz’ book as an account of dealing with hard decisions in general, about having to decide alone, about personal accountability,…

Virtual Book Spine Poetry (Edition 2014 + 2015/6)

I am going to merge two overdue posts: 1) the 2014 edition of my yearly book reviews, a tradition I started last year, and 2) my next experimental poem, in a new experimental genre. I owe to the inventors of Book Spine Poetry – and I’d like to challenge this: You can’t do that with ebooks….

We Should Get Lost Sometimes – Nicholas Carr on Automation and Us

The Glass Cage is about automation’s human consequences. It is not intended to be your typical book about robots taking our jobs for better or for worse. Carr gives an intriguing account of the history of automation and robotics nonetheless – from Luddites to Google’s self-driving cars. What we have known intuitively is backed up…

When I Did Social Engineering without Recognizing It

I planned to read something about history this summer. Then I picked the history of hacking. My favorite was Kevin Mitnick’s autobiography – the very definition of a page-turner. The book is free of hardcore technical jargon and written for geeks and lay audience alike. Readers are introduced to the spirit of a hacker in…

5 Years Anniversary: When My Phone Got Hacked

I like to play with phones. 5 years ago my cell phone decided it wanted to play on its own. It did participate in a TV voting – so the provider said and the itemized bill proved. This was for a music show I wouldn’t even watch if somebody paid me for doing so. The…

Hacking the Biological Clock

I need to rant before I will borrow one hour of my life to some technocrats tomorrow – that will give it back to me in October. So the subtitle is: I hate Daylight Savings Time! Daylight Savings Time was inspired by a whimsical essay by Benjamin Franklin (probably not the first time that politics fell for something…

How to Introduce Special Relativity (Historical Detour)

I am just reading the volume titled Waves in my favorite series of ancient textbooks on Theoretical Physics by German physics professor Wilhelm Macke. I tried to resist the urge to write about seemingly random fields of physics, and probably weird ways of presenting them – but I can’t resist any longer. There are different…

Generation X. (I Resist Adding a More Zeitgeisty Header.)

Yes, this is really about Douglas Coupland’s landmark book. Generation X comprises people born between early 1960s and early 1980s. Thus I am perfectly average Gen X, and I re-read this book once in a while. As for the content I cannot do better than the blurb: Andy, Dag and Claire have been handed a…

Search Term Poetry Sans Google

Times have been rough for search poets since Google has decided to encrypt search results. But you could also argue that search terms should be more non-mainstream, hip, and sophisticated now as submitted by users preferring non-mainstream search engines. So this is Google-less search term poetry, created from terms harvested in Q4 2013. As usual, lines…

My Reading List

This blog has been inspired by books more often than not. When I crafted my first personal website many years ago, a database of my favorite books was one of the first things I added and changed frequently. For better or for worse – I organize my thoughts and my websites in relation to books…

This Year in Books: Biographies, Science, Essays.

I hardly review books on this blog, but I mull upon specific questions – to which books may have answers. This is my pick of books I enjoyed reading in 2013 – and the related questions! Biographies I have a penchant for physicists’ lives in the first half of the 20th century. How did scientists…

“Student Friendly Quantum Field Theory”

As other authors of science blogs have pointed out: Most popular search terms are submitted by students. So I guess it is not the general public who is interested in: the theory of gyroscopes, (theory of) microwaves, (theory of) heat pumps, (theory of) falling slinkies, or the Coriolis force. I believe that these search terms…

Using Social Media in Bursts. Is. Just. Normal.

I have seen lots of turkey pictures last week and this has reminded me of an anniversary: When I saw those last time I have just started using Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. @elkement Little bird has left its egg! #newbie #twitter — Elke Stangl (@elkement) November 22, 2012 So a review is overdue, and I…

Mastering Geometry is a Lost Art

I am trying to learn Quantum Field Theory the hard way: Alone and from textbooks. But there is something harder than the abstract math of advanced quantum physics: You can aim at comprehending ancient texts on physics. If you are an accomplished physicist, chemist or engineer – try to understand Sadi Carnot’s reasoning that was…

Fragile Technology? (Confessions of a Luddite Disguised as Tech Enthusiast)

I warn you – I am in the mood for random long-winded philosophical ramblings. I have graduated recently again, denying cap-and-gown costume as I detest artificial Astroturf traditions such as re-importing academic rituals from the USA to Europe. A Subversive El(k)ement fond of uniforms would not be worth the name. However, other than that I…

I Want to Be Antifragile and Have Skin in the Game

Having read The Black Swan and Antifragile by Nassim Taleb I might have become an orthodox member of the Taleb Cult. The more Taleb’s ideas struck a chord with me intuitively, the more I try to scrutinize them. I jumped to the 1-star reviews amazon.com to challenge my gullibility, and I tried my best to…

Creepy Game of Life

Every undergraduate in a science degree program has to develop some variant of Game of Life – in a programming 101 course. These – not very intelligent – life-forms on a checkerboard evolve by following very simple rules – ‘cell’ live or die, depending on its number of neighbors. The pattern is determined by the…

So-Called Zen Capitalism and Random Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

In this blog and in the comments’ section of other blogs I have repeatedly ridiculed: management consultants, new age-y self help literature and simple-minded soft skills trainers. Let alone all other life-forms in the lower left quadrant of the verbal skills vs. quant skills diagram. Now it is time that I give you a chance…

Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup!

Having blogged for more than a year I have finally reached the status of renowned, serious blogger. I have carved out my niche, and I have been asked for providing feedback on a book in that particular category. Of course, it is a book of spam poems.  Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup ……

Why Fat Particles Radiate Less

I am just reading Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall which has a chapter on the impressive machinery of Large Hadron Collider. The LHC has been built to smash proton beams against each other: Protons, not electrons. Why protons? I stumbled upon the following statement: “But accelerated particles radiate, and the lighter they are, the more they do…