May 17th, 2006

Hi!

Looks like it's been a week since I posted last. Well, let me just take a second to let you know I'm still alive and well. Thank you, f-listers, for your updates! I'll pay you individual visits soon, I promise.

It's been a busy week, but in a good way. I've got some new, potential dating prospects (yay!) so I don't have an excuse to sit home and feel sorry for myself. Also I've got a full-time temp gig for a month, starting tomorrow. It's a classic cubicle routine, regular 8-to-5 hours sitting at a desk and literally shuffling papers. I don't absolutely need the income right now, but I think it's prudent to stay in the workforce and keep the paychecks coming in. Also it'll get me out of the apartment, which maybe I need to do.

Story followers, fear not. Even now, I am working out the details of future developments. A very special public thank-you to silverseabear for her continuing interest and enthusiasm! It really keeps me going. Also thanks to enigmania for taking the time (in the middle of wedding preparations, no less) to help me with some questions on black holes.

(And in the previous line, I almost typed "weeding preparations". Well, that part comes later. And the very best wishes to Jocelyn on the upcoming wedded bliss and domesticity. May you make the trees jealous.)

That's all for now. I'll be back soon.

BSG

Oh yeah, and the other thing I almost forgot to mention in my previous post. I just got some DVDs from Amazon, including "Battlestar Galactica", and I believe I'm about to become a serious BSG junkie. Yeah, I know, I'm about the last person on Planet Earth to catch on. But for the record: Is the show really as good as everybody says it is? No. It's BETTER. I watched the entire first season yesterday. Going to put the second season on this afternoon, and then I know I'll be dead to the world for the rest of the day.

That is some seriously amazing television.

Reading List

Marc L. Kutner - Astronomy: A physical perspective. Oooh, this is fun. I've been reading the chapters on continuous radiation, spectral lines, and binary stars; and worked out a few of the simpler problems. Unfortunately the answers to the exercises aren't provided so it's hard to check my work. But I did manage to feed the Planck blackbody radiation formula into Mathematica and Maple, and was able to check my results against existing tables - and they matched perfectly. So I know I'm on the right track.

Tristam Needham - Complex visual analysis. Lots of fun stuff about complex numbers. I love the way you can get the sine, cosine, and exponential functions from Euler's formula.

Roger Penrose - The road to reality. This is definitely a long-term project, so I'm taking small bites. But well worth it. Lots of stuff on complex numbers and it goes nicely with the Tristam Needham book.

Robert Zubrin - Entering space. Aerospace engineer and space-travel advocate explains the how, why, and how-much-is-it-gonna-cost of space travel.

Vladimir Chobotov - Orbital mechanics; and Howard D. Curtis - Orbital mechanics for engineers. I got these from Powell's Technical Books. An ambitious (and spendy) choice but proving well worth it. I've already worked out two simple problems (involving rocket fuel and orbit altitudes) and I'm SOOO excited! (For the orbit altitude problems you have to remember to convert from "apogee/perigee radius" to "apogee/perigee altitude" by factoring in the radius of Earth. Which I remembered to do.) The math isn't that difficult, and there are solutions given in both books, so I can do a lot of work in these without getting discouraged.

Hawking and Penrose - The nature of space and time. This one was a little too ambitious. The math and language are too technical and advanced for me; I can read a paragraph here and there for information, but I'll have to put this one off until I'm in grad school or something.

Roger Penrose - The large, the small, and the human mind. Much more accessible than the previous title, and (as far as I can tell) covering much of the same territory. What I love about Penrose is that he explains things in layperson's terms WITHOUT dumbing-down the discussion. Great discussion on probability amplitudes, plus a forum at the end with three scientists debating conceptual questions of physics.

Richard P. Feynman - Lectures on physics (CD). Yay! Richard Feynman has a new album out! Or rather, volumes 7 and 8 in the CD edition of his recorded lectures from the early 1960s. The new release covers light and mechanics. Great for audio-learning (even though you may grow weary of RPF's Brooklyn twang). I don't know whether RPF ever imagined he would achieve immortality in quite this form!
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