Mike Beversluis

Monday, September 27, 2004

Funny ha ha

Yes, it appears that I have nothing better to do than make stupid blog posts, but this is not true. It's just that I have very, very poor priorities.

Anyway, here is a funny picture from Bob Morris (via Vodkapundit). Take that, Florida, continental antipode of my home state. Actually, does Boeing shitting all over you count as punishment from God? How about suffering through a 100-loss baseball season despite having shelled out $500+ million for a new ballpark. In that case, Washington is getting punished by God too, even though they voted for Al Gore. Just watch, when Kerry wins Washington's pointless electoral votes, Mt Rainier is going to blow up.

And speaking of getting punished by God, despite my miserable workaholic bachelor existance, http://www.thingsmygirlfriendandihavearguedabout.com/, never fails to make me feel better about being single. Yet when I think about this, it's yet another lose-lose situation. Ah, there's the tenuous and pointless theme I'm hanging on this post.

UPDATE: I knew it!

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Still life at the Institute of Optics 6

"I was going to give you a homework set, but... who stole my computer?" - Professor Ian Walmsley


Friday, September 24, 2004


Ichiro! is better than you think he is, which should be pretty damn good to begin with...

Thank God for Ichiro! in a season where the Mariners give you nothing else to watch. For those living under a rock: At this moment, he is nine hits away from breaking the all-time record for hits in a season.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Astronomy picture of the day

Have we seen the first image of an extrasolar planet?

Rather cool if so, and just for fun:

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Some guy just got arrested for speeding - 140 mph over the posted 65 mph limit. If accurate, what can you say, that's sorta impressive.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tax reform

Ha ha, those wacky French; This is definitely not the tax reform I had in mind. I like the way Chirac supports the idea, but wants to exempt the French military-industrial complex from it. Nice. Even better, he suggests that personal weapons be taxed. Gee, I totally wonder who he has in mind.

advice update

Of course, if you are in the optics Masters program, then your grades do count. However, since you were smart enough to figure out that paying for one year of tuition and graduating into a wide-open market is generally a better deal than a taking a miniscule stipend during a 7+ year open ended "apprenticeship" that leads into a low pay, narrow, and extremely competitive market, well, you probably already knew that. However, in other schools the physics masters degree is the booby prize given to PhD flameouts, so while this doesn't apply directly, since you obviously didn't get the grades you needed in the first place, getting something and getting out earlier is better than being a mediocre PhD slogging through the wilderness for forty years.


God is Beautiful

The fire marshal came through our building recently and gave us the thumbs-up, which is good since we hardly ever have fires. Well, at least not on purpose. The most memorable to me was the time I came in on a Saturday morning and the hallway was filled with smoke. It turns out that there was an electrical fire in one of the maintenance closets. It further turns out that the fire alarm system had caught on fire, and somewhat ironically, had not gone off. Ha ha, good one God.

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Yet more free advice to science graduate students who didn't ask for it

Do not worry about grades in graduate school. Relax jackass, you've already been admitted. Of course, you need to pass, which means a B average (ah, the "gentleman's B"). But unless you can pull a straight 4.0 and graduate mongoose come loud, it's a waste of time. The true metric is first-author quality publications. Realize this before your loser classmates, and you are a step ahead of the game. With papers, the more the better, but quality is paramount. This means publishing in the right journals, a criterion given by their citation index. Nature and Science are at the top, but these are highly politicized journals. A lot of quality work is rejected and a lot of garbage gets in, based largely on who you know and who knows you. Something like 30% of the results presented in these journals turn out to be erroneous or were miscontrued, yet a paper in one of them is estimated to be worth several hundred thousand dollars a year in potential grants.

Despite the hurdles presented by this journal hierarchy, the main problem is less getting yourself published than writing something in the first place. Kinda like this stupid blog. The choice of field can greatly ease or exacerbate this problem. Kinda like picking "bitching about my job" as a topic. Compounding this is that being the second to publish is essentially worthless. (Less well known is that being first to publish is also useless) You should never choose to work in a dead field, like physics or chemistry. But avoiding the well-trod path doesn't guarantee anything either, like biology. Essentially, it comes down to dumb luck - you want to be working on something obscure when it suddenly blows up into major result, and how exactly should you do this? Well, not beating a dead horse is a start.

Frankly, many people enter graduate school with a fixed thesis topic and fail to realize that their desired topic is long since dead and buried. This goes back to one of my central tenets: Smart people are dumb. You should be pragmatic, and realize that unless you are truly cursed, you can probably work on just about any topic and find something to like. The quality of your advisor and the amount of meat left on the bone are more important than fulfilling some preconceived notion of what it was you thought you wanted to do.

If fame and glory are unlikely, and they are, at least try to line up a reasonable thesis project as early as possible. Be forewarned, this is unlikely to be anything your advisor suggests.

Earlier "wisdom" here and here.

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Still life at the Institute of Optics 5

"So now this equation is linear, except for the nonlinear term." – John Heebner


Saturday, September 18, 2004

100 Suns

My friend Nathaniel first showed me Michael Light's 100 Suns, a collection of one hundred archival photos of nuclear test explosions. To say I'm a fan of nuclear explosions understates things, by, oh... a hundred kilotons?

So, I immediately ordered my own copy. There's a variety of shots, including fetching wide angle photographs of the mushroom clouds. I'm more of an intimate close-up sort of guy, and two images in particular stand out; The first is an ultrafast shot taken by Edgerton of the expanding fireball a very short time after detonation. The fireball is frozen in place at a diameter of 10 m or so, and the aluminum tower is still visible beneath the fireball. The protruding tower struts glowing white hot for a few feet as thermal conductance beats the tortoise like explosion. The fireball itself resembles a jellyfish at this point and is simply fascinating. The second picture that made an impression is a radiation damaged picture of troops sitting in a trench several kilometers from the explosion. At that point the predictions for the yield were imprecise, and this explosion was several times larger than they anticipated. The soldiers were much too close, as the film damage hauntingly records.

In short, highly recommended, especially for ~$20 on the gray market.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Grad student pastimes

The new student directory came out, and guess what you can do with that...

Self-selecting jobs

Now you are only three links away from getting your dream job at google.

In related news, the website address formed by the first ten consecutive words that make sense in Finnegans Wake was found to lead here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Still life at the Institute of Optics 4

"An electron orbiting an atom is alot like a kid on a swing. If you kick it hard enough, it'll fly off." – Jake Bromage


In case I was unclear

Re Eric Hoffer, I interpret #61, #209, and #241, thus, thus and thusly. Does that clear things up?

Monday, September 13, 2004

A few quotes from Eric Hoffer

From The Passionate State of Mind:

61 - The weakness of a soul is proportionate to the number of truths that must be kept from it.

209 - Stupidity is not always a mere want of intelligence. It can be a sort of corruption. It is doubtful whether the good of heart can be really stupid.

241 - Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.


Why football?

"Stanley, is football the greatest game in the world?" [1.8MB]

Still life at the Institute of Optics 3

"A professor is one who talks in someone else's sleep." - Robert Boyd, professor of non-linear optics


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Funny ha ha


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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Still life at the Institute of Optics 2

"The log of infinity is like... 75." - Brian Soller


Tomato-Watermelon appetizer

  • 20-30 cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 20-30 1 cm (1/2 inch) seeded/seedless watermelon cubes
  • 20-30 mint leafs, rinsed and plucked from their stems
  • 1/2 c vinaigrette
  • 1-2 tblspn chopped cilantro
Mix the cilantro in with the vinaigrette. Take a toothpick, and spear a tomato and a leaf of mint on top of a watermelon cube. Dip in the cilantro vinaigrette, and set aside to drain. Repeat until you run out of something, hopefully everything at once. Arrange on a serving dish/platter, and prepare to defend your sexuality, or not. Note, I used raspberrry vinaigrette with reasonable success.

I first ran into this recipe at a tapas restaurant in DC, but instead of the cherry tomatoes, they used the heart of the tomato. Your milage may vary.

Correction - I originally wrote basil instead of mint. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Still life at the Institute of Optics 1

"When the lens was tilted roughly twenty degrees, the aberration `tilt' was introduced into the image." – From an anonymous lab report


Funny ha ha

Note to Filipp - This is a picture of missile-shaped ballons tied to the back of a truck.

Taken from Engadget.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hello World

printf("Hello World") \% That is all