Weekly Digest – October 4, 2020

Long hours at work this past week trying to meet a deadline so not much new reading.   That stated, here are a few links worth checking out:

  • We’ve been having a hell of a time with cabbage moths/worms in the garden:  Epic Gardening, How to Get Rid of Cabbage Worms Organically
  • I’ve been learning a little about celestial navigation for work.  That led me to fun website for amateur astronomers, AstroBackyard.  He’s got a great YouTube channel too.
  • On the theme of astronomy, great views of Jupiter and Saturn in the evening.  I haven’t looked for Mars yet but it’s the brightest it will be until 2028:  Sky and Telescope’s Sky at a Glance.
  • I’m coming to the conclusion that if we ever buy a telescope Celestron’s 5 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain will be one.  (Yes, it’s expensive but when I spec out one with  comparable capability which could “grow with us” the price is at least double.  No, we’re not planning on buying one anytime soon.)

So what DO you do?

So this morning in my LinkedIn feed there’s someone, a VC, going on about a company that just went public, Nutanix.  I don’t really get what the company does from his piece but I’m curious so I go to the “What We Do” section Nutanix’s of website.  It reads:

Nutanix delivers solutions that elevate IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform natively converges compute, virtualization and storage into a resilient, software-defined solution with rich machine intelligence. The world’s most advanced enterprise datacenters rely on Nutanix technology and solutions to power their most demanding workloads at any scale.

The last sentence seems straightforward enough and first is vague but I think I get the gist of it.  The middle though?  What the @#$% is that?   “Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Enterprise Datacenters” is what exactly?  How do I use it?  (Whatever it is, somebody thinks it’s worth a lot of money.)

Contrast Nutanix’s statement with Heilmeier’s Catechism for evaluating a research project:

  1. What are you trying to do? (Articulate your objectives quantitatively, using absolutely no jargon)
  2. How is it done today and what are the limits of current practice?
  3. What is new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  4. Who cares? If it is successful, what difference will it make?
  5. How will you commercialize or transition the technology to the users?  What resources or strategic partners will you need?
  6. What are the risks in implementing your approach and how will you address them in your project?
  7. How much will it cost to reach your ultimate objective? How long will it take?
  8. What are the intermediate and final milestones that will demonstrate success?

If you’ve already got a product, as Nutanix does, then just speak to the first four.   Never mind research, the eight questions above are a good frame for just about anything you set out to do.

Weekly Digest – June 5, 2016

Good Government

Science and Public Policy

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Science Links – May 22, 2016

Worthwhile reads from the past week:

AMO physics

Last week Mike the Mad Biologist linked to an essay by Union College physics professor Chad Orzel, “Particle And Astro Aren’t The Only Kinds Of Physics“.  Orzel’s field is Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) Physics.  For my Ph.D. research I worked a problem in molecular physics.  It was an experimental test of a very old theoretical problem:  Imagine a hydrogen atom with a huge point electric dipole moment at its nucleus.  What happens to the hydrogenic orbitals and the energy levels as a result of the dipole?  That was one aspect of the problem.  The other was that there is no such thing as an atomic ion with an huge electric dipole moment at its nucleus.  The Rydberg states I was studying had a molecular ion core rather than an atomic one.  The other question I addressed was how an the oscillating dipole affects the exchange of energy and angular momentum between the Ryberg electron and the molecular ion core.  Anyhow, with our backgrounds in AMO physics, Orzel and I share some common experience and common knowledge.  His article resonated with me.  He starts out:

I sometimes get asked why I’m not a particle physicist. This is a question that can have a bit of an edge, particularly when coming from high-energy theorists, a number of whom feel that only second-rate physicists do experimental particle physics, and anyone who studies things larger than the nucleus of an atom might as well be a chemist.

I sympathize.  My lab was the Chemistry Dept.  I’d often get asked why I wasn’t an organic chemist.  Orzel provides a really nice explanation for why he chose the field he did:

I’m in AMO physics by choice, because I find it a particularly congenial field for a number of reasons, some of which I’ll try to explain here…  It’s not too big… [In contrast to particle physics, the] community as a whole is also much smaller… This means you have an excellent chance of getting to see and interact with even the biggest names in the field, who are mostly very down-to-Earth folks…  It’s not too small… The subject matter of AMO physics, as it says right there in the name, involves atoms and molecules, generally very simple molecules by the standards of chemistry. These hit a sort of Goldilocks point, at least for me– they’re small enough to show interesting quantum effects, but not so small that you can’t see them directly… The physics is amazing… It has applications all over… You can even attack the same fundamental physics studied with giant particle colliders using small-scale AMO physics labs….  (As a bonus, [AMO is] also an unusually collegial subfield– even research groups that are in direct competition tend to be on friendly terms with one another…)

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