Updates (April 2016)


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  • CERN LHC is waking up after the winter shutdown. I follow the progress of accelerator physicists, engineers and technicians from here. These log entries take me back to my Fermilab days (1988-1992) where I was doing similar work in the Fermilab control room. I am still amazed how human beings can to this – collide tiny protons with other protons head-on. It is not just the design, engineering and physics. It is also timing and reliability of the components. You have to make thousands of components work in unison. That’s amazing.
  • Construction began on a major upgrade to the X-ray laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The project will add a second X-ray laser beam that’s 10,000 times brighter, on average, than the first one and fires 8,000 times faster, up to a million pulses per second. The project is  known as LCLS-II
  • Leonard Susskind published his recent IAS lectures at arXiv. This paper is worth reading. My focus was not on the ER=EPR argument which is over my head but I was very interested in reading his thoughts on Quantum Mechanics. He also quotes from Bohr, Feynman and Dirac. It is worth repeating those quotes here:

“If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet” – Niels Bohr

“We have always had a great deal of difficulty understanding the world view that quantum mechanics represents. At least I do, because I’m an old enough man that I haven’t got to the point that this stuff is obvious to me. Okay, I still get nervous with it…. You know how it always is, every new idea, it takes a generation or two until it becomes obvious that there’s no real problem. I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no real problem.” – Richard Feynman

“There is hope that quantum mechanics will gradually lose its baffling quality…… I have observed in teaching quantum mechanics, and also in learning it, that students go through an experience…. The student begins by learning the tricks of the trade. He learns how to make calculations in quantum mechanics and get the right answers…..it is comparatively painless. The second stage comes when the student begins to worry because he does not understand what he has been doing. He worries because he has no clear physical picture in his head….. Then, unexpectedly, the third stage begins. The student suddenly says to himself, I understand quantum mechanics, or rather he says, I understand now that there isn’t anything to be understood….. The duration and severity of the second stage are decreasing as the years go by. Each new generation of students learns quantum mechanics more easily than their teachers learned it…..” – Paul Dirac

  • I enjoyed reading these 2 part interviews (here and here) with John Baez.

About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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