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Physics

Paul Dirac’s PhD Thesis

Posted in Physics, Science on July 29th, 2013 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Recently my grandfather’s PhD thesis has found its way onto the Internet.  You can view a PDF of it here, courtesy of Florida State University: http://www.lib.fsu.edu/files/pdfs/dirac_1926_dissertation.pdf This fascinating document is significant in the history of science.  Its two-word title, “Quantum Mechanics” demonstrates how fundamental it was in opening up a new branch of science.  For […]

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The ironic challenge of nuclear power safety

Posted in Analysis, Geek, Physics, Societal Values, Technology on March 15th, 2011 by leodirac – 15 Comments

In studying the history of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the ongoing events at Fukushima, a subtle but important connection appears.  The problems at Fukushima today share a fundamental similarity with the cause of Chernobyl’s disaster. Moreover, within that similarity lies a path to making nuclear power safer. Obviously there are huge differences.  Chernobyl was a massive […]

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How training in Physics is relevant to work at Google

Posted in Ego, Google, Physics, Science, Tech Industry on April 17th, 2010 by leodirac – Comments Off on How training in Physics is relevant to work at Google

As promised, I gave a talk at the Pacific Northwest Association of College Physicists conference today.  The topic was Physics at Google, or more specifically, “How a background in physics helps to solve Google’s engineering challenges.  Real-world examples of how making the world’s information accessible and useful leans on the principals of physics.”  My slides […]

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Space Weather

Posted in Geek, Physics, Science on April 16th, 2010 by leodirac – Comments Off on Space Weather

Recently some of my friends were discussing solar activity, and I learned that there’s a system for rating geomagnetic storms.  This recent one was a G3, which is fairly common and not that serious.  But about once per month on average there will be a G4 storm which can interfere with GPS navigation and even […]

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Speaking at PNACP Spring Conference

Posted in Education, Ego, Google, Physics on March 29th, 2010 by leodirac – 1 Comment

I’ve been invited to give a talk at the Spring meeting of the Pacific Northwest Association for College Physics.  The theme of the conference is “The Unknown Physicist.”  Along those lines I will be giving a talk about Physics at Google, and how a background in physics helps to solve Google’s engineering challenges.  I’ll give […]

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The Paradoxes of Color Temperature

Posted in Physics, Science, Seattle, Sustainability on February 22nd, 2009 by leodirac – Comments Off on The Paradoxes of Color Temperature

Last week I went to the Indoor Sun Shoppe in Fremont and got a couple new CF bulbs for the house. I love their selection — they have everything from tiny 7W candelabra bulbs to these massive 150W bulbs that look like death-rays. A giant 105W bulb (pictured) is now trying to make my monstera deliciosa’s home in the living room a little more like tropical mexico and less like winter-in-seattle. In addition to a huge range of powers, they also clearly show you the color temperature of each bulb. Some of my friends have avoided CF bulbs because of…

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The Strangest Man in my family

Posted in Ego, Physics on February 8th, 2009 by leodirac – Comments Off on The Strangest Man in my family

A new biography of my grandfather has just been published called “The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius .” I’m quite excited about it for a number of reasons I’ll describe below. The summary of the book on the publisher’s site is great: The first full biography of Paul Dirac, the greatest British physicist since Newton – and one of the strangest geniuses of the twentieth century, who may have suffered from autism. Paul Dirac was a pioneer of quantum mechanics and was regarded as an equal by Albert Einstein. He predicted, purely from what he…

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LHC blue-screens the world

Posted in Ego, Humor, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Transhumanism on September 9th, 2008 by leodirac – 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while, and I figured tonight might be my last chance. Plenty of people have been worrying about how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could destroy the planet by creating small black-holes that might suck in the entire earth. As the good folks at CERN re-assure us, everything is fine. I pretty much believe this. That is to say, I’m pretty sure LHC will not destroy all life as we know it. Pretty sure. Otherwise, we’ve all got a few more hours to live. So long as my buddy Stephen Hawking’s…

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Two Big Questions Physics Isn’t Addressing

Posted in Chemistry, Philosophy, Physics, Science on January 3rd, 2008 by leodirac – 1 Comment

One of the reasons I chose not to pursue a career in science was a feeling that all the interesting problems of physics have been solved. In a sense I still believe this — I don’t see the current line of pursuit bearing much fruit. But I do see two really important questions that physics hasn’t answered. What makes them especially interesting is that most of the scientific establishment doesn’t even recognize them as valid questions. Ever since Maxwell unified the theories of electricity and magnetism in 1864, physicists have been working towards a single model that can explain all…

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Do We Live in a Simulation? Implications for Morality and the Beauty of Physics.

Posted in Analysis, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Transhuman Morality, Transhumanism, Uploading on August 24th, 2007 by leodirac – 3 Comments

There’s been a lot of fuss lately about Nick Bostrom’s ideas that we live in a simulation as a result of an article in the New York Times. Here I’ll provide some analysis of Bostrom’s bold claim, including a proposed mechanism to explain my grandfather’s assertion that mathematical simplicity and beauty were indicators of underlying truth. I’ll also explore the implications of this possibility to our daily lives, and show why this is another reason to follow Transhuman Morality. Simplified Simulation or Complete, Accurate Model? The simulations Bostrom describes would not be precise to the subatomic level, but rather use…

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