wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
Mojo is mojo, but this is getting ridiculous.

Read more... )
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
In my previous post, I mentioned that I was working on a talk about the history of Nevis. I presented that talk yesterday.

I'd been worried about how the talk would be received. I focused more on the history of the Nevis estate and on the construction of the Nevis synchrocyclotron than the research we've done in the past 35 years. Anyone who came to the talk expecting to hear their work or name mentioned would be disappointed.

My stomach was doing flip-flops in the two hours just before the talk.

I needn't have worried. Everyone loved the talk. They were more interested in learning something new than having their egos stroked. I made the talk non-technical, so the family and friends of the physicists at the holiday party had no problems following it.

The mojo lives!
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
I recently picked up Playing at the World by Jon Peterson. This book is a history of the game Dungeon & Dragons.

Since many of my readers are Wiccan, I'll use an analogy that will make sense to them: Playing at the World does for D&D what Ronald Hutton's Triumph of the Moon did for Wicca. It explores the different elements and influences that resulted in D&D, and follows the chain of influence forward as D&D affected the world around it. [1] [2]

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wgseligman: (Ren Faire)
Two additional items about my previous post:

- It looks like power will probably not be restored at work until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. Keep those cards and letters going to my g-mail address.

- It was not a woodchuck that got into the transformer. It was a raccoon. Mrs. Bucktooth is relieved and overjoyed, but Mrs. Ringtail is inconsolable.
wgseligman: (Ren Faire)
My work e-mail address isn't working. Please use one of my g-mail addresses (William, then a dot, then Seligman) or the Acorn Garden one (again, with a dot).

The reason why the work e-mail address is down is that power is out at the lab. There was a serious transformer breakdown because a woodchuck crawled inside. Funeral services for Mr. Bucktooth will be scheduled as soon as we can contact Simplicity Memorial.
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
Once every two years, the Particle Data Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories publishes their Review of Particle Physics. This is both a web site and thick magazine, about the size of the New York telephone directory. The production issues associated with such a volume are so complex that, even though it's only published biennially, publication is distributed among several physics journal publishers; in 2010 it was published by Journal of Physics; this year it was published by Physical Review D.

In other words, it's a big deal.

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wgseligman: (Default)
Did you understand my earlier post about neutrinos? No? Then maybe this will help:

wgseligman: (tuxedo)
My subtitle for this blog is "Musings of a physicist, a witch, and a gamer." I've posted on wicca and gaming, but I've never said much about physics until now.

I have been reticent to talk about physics because what I physically do is sit in front of a computer terminal and type (and occasionally think) all day. But evidently someone thinks that the work I do is interesting:

Read more... )

Ancestry

Sep. 10th, 2011 03:25 pm
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
There's a database of high-energy physics papers called SPIRES. If you click on the HEPNAMES section and type "find seligman, william" you'll see my entry; it can lead you to the physics papers with my name on it (only one of which I wrote).

What's interesting is that you'll also see my thesis advisor. Click on his name, and you'll see his advisor. If you keep clicking, you'll go through my "genealogy" of advisors all the way back to Otto Mencke (1644 –1707), the founder of the first scientific journal in Germany: Acta Eruditorum (the acts/reports of the scholars). The SPIRES database has copies of all published physics-related papers from then until now.

So here's to Great^15-grandpa Otto, founder of a line that includes me and almost everyone I've worked with at Nevis Labs
wgseligman: (Default)
I was asked to repost this Facebook status as a blog post, so that others could share it.

When someone asks what good the space program ever did, I have to point out: The sky is blue and the sun is shining, yet we know that a potentially devastating hurricane is coming due to weather satellites. Thousands of lives are being saved because we spent less than 0.5% of our national budget on space exploration and research.

The benefits of scientific research aren't always obvious. Ben Franklin flew a kite in a storm... and so we had electric power 150 years later.
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
Occasionally I'm asked how I reconcile being both a physicist and a Wiccan. My answer is long and I think most people find it tedious. But in today's Writer's Almanac, I learned that William Blake expressed it much more succinctly:

You don’t believe

by William Blake


You don't believe — I won't attempt to make ye.
You are asleep — I won't attempt to wake ye.
Sleep on, sleep on, while in your pleasant dreams
Of reason you may drink of life's clear streams
Reason and Newton, they are quite two things,
For so the swallow and the sparrow sings.
Reason says 'Miracle', Newton says 'Doubt'.
Aye, that's the way to make all Nature out:
Doubt, doubt, and don't believe without experiment.
That is the very thing that Jesus meant
When he said: 'Only believe." Believe and try,
Try, try, and never mind the reason why.
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
In my last two posts, I talked about significant events in my life, and about cleaning out my closets.

There's something I found while cleaning out my closets of old clothing.  I should get rid of it.  I know that will never fit into it again for the rest of my life.  But I find it hard to let them go.

It's the jacket and pants that I wore during my university defense.  They're a size 40 or something like that; I'm presently a size 48-50 and I have little hope of seeing that waistline again.

Aside from that, they're a pale beige in color. Even if I could fit into them, there wouldn't be an occasion to do so.  I wear my tux to weddings; I have some dark clothing for funerals.  I wear a blue jacket at Passover; I'd never wear something light-colored at an occasion where I might spill food on it.

They're taking up useless space in my closet.  If I were to donate them (it turns out that the bins outside the supermarket belong to the Police Youth department), they might serve to keep someone warm.  They could have a purpose.

Sigh. I suppose this is how many women regard their wedding dresses.

wgseligman: (tuxedo)
Today I had the chance to go over some slides from a presentation that a colleague was going to make the Physics Advisory Committee at Fermilab.  It was an important presentation, and it was vital to make a good impression.  (I should mention that i was not the only one to look over these slides; everyone from the collaboration did so, in order to help her out.)

At one point in her talk, she describes a relatively new technique for detecting particles.  She shows some results, and then had written on the slide, "This is not black magic"; the implication being that the detector worked and was practical for use in physics analysis.

However, she had spelled the word "magic" incorrectly.  I, with 17 years of experience in paganism and ritual, immediately picked up on the error.

Wicca rules!  At least for finding spelling mistakes...
wgseligman: (Default)
The following observation was brought to my attention:

www.cyriak.co.uk/lhc/lhc-webcams.html

I want to assure everyone that the experiment shown, CMS ("Compact Muon Solenoid") is not the experiment on which I worked.  I worked for a while on ATLAS  ("A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS").  I can assure you that the experiment on which I worked would be first to make any such observation!  Of course!

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William Seligman

March 2014

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