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Berkeley – Not What I Thought November 15, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in computers, physics.

CIMG9102I’ve never been to Berkeley before. I attended a small ATLAS workshop (which was fantastic) and stayed in a hotel just outside the university. We took everyone in our group, pretty much, and had a good time. And learned a lot (I’d forgotten how complex the ALTAS software was — especially to beginners).

Two of our students knew a lot about the area. One of their first statements was “Careful how far down Telegraph Ave you walk at night!” Apparently twits drive up and mug students for their iPods. This pretty much sums up my experience there. I admit to not getting out much, but it wasn’t exactly a place I’d want to hang out and drink (as I did a little of when I was an undergraduate). In fact, the surrounding area sounded a little depressing. I’m sure if I’m wrong I’ll see it in the comments here.๐Ÿ™‚

CIMG9063The other thing that surprised me was the smog. I’ve been to San Francisco many times and I’ve never noticed the smog. But there it was, hovering over the city. Heck, it reminds me of India!

Thanks to SLAC and LBNL for arranging the workshop! It was a lot of fun and I think we learned quite a bit.

You know — on software complexity… I have this fear that new students will look at the software and say “Hey – this is really getting in the way of me doing physics, I’m going to do another type of physics, like condensed matter.” There has to be an easier way to get people into it.๐Ÿ™‚


1. rob johnson - November 15, 2006

Many of the good bars in Berkeley are up on College Ave, a few blocks north of Telegraph, or on San Pablo Ave, a lot further west. Then there’s Oakland, San Francisco, etc… I’ve never found anything quite like the College Inn, though.

Also, I think the area around Telegraph exhibits a bit of an oscillatory behavior with regards to “scumminess,” depending on how much attention the city council / UC and Berkeley police are paying. i recall it being ok when I was in high school, kind of scummy at the beginning of my undergrad, and then becoming progressively nicer over the next few years. and now it seems to be back on a downard trend. sigh.

2. Bill Karr - November 16, 2006


I’m a 17 year old kid who’s really starting to get into physics. I’m reading a lot of books right now and am super motivated. I plan on going to college to major in physics. I kind of need a physicist to talk to either through email or whatever. Just to talk about things…

I’d like you to look at an idea of mine and tell me what you think. I’m not sure if it’s original or not. I’m guessing not. It’s regarding the idea of an oscillating universe. I know that, as of recently, they think the universe is accelerating expansion, but I still like thinking about it… so, if it’s no trouble, I’d appreciate if you told me what you think of my idea.

In Einstein’s special theory of relativity, he explains that as one object is in movement relative to another object, the clocks tick slower relatively to the object that is relatively at rest. In his general theory, he adds acceleration and gravity into the picture. Acceleration is movement, therefore this slower ticking phenomenon exists in this general case, too. Experiencing gravity is the same as experiencing acceleration in a “gravity-less” envorionment. He proved that this slower ticking phenomenon exists also in gravitational fields. The heavier the gravity, the longer earth-seconds are to the observer.

So when we consider the “beginning” and the “end” of the big bang, we imagine a singularity. A point of zero volume and infinite density. This doesn’t make much sense. The idea I’ve come up with after reading into the subject is the following…

Speed of light is virtually unachievable by an object of matter. Light is energy going at this “maximum” velocity. This velocity is constant and never changing. Light is just as old as it was at the beginning of the universe because time doesn’t tick for it. Time is stopped for light. Going faster than this speed would be breaking the light barrier. Hypothetically, this means that your earth seconds would be more than infinitely long after you broke the light barrier. Time would go past stopping. The same applies for gravity. When there is gravitational force within a unit of volume of space, time slows down.

My idea derived from this information is this… what if going faster than the speed of light is time reversed? As gravitational force approaches infinite and volume of the universe approches zero, earth-time slows down. In order to explain an “end” in time from an observer outside of the finite space and time of our universe, outside of our perspective, one could say that time reverses, to restart expansion backwards in time. This property of the universe couldn’t be experienced because humans exist inside of time, not outside and we only experience foward movement in time. This information would mean that singularities don’t exist but are just limits or asymptotes. When the density gets down to a certain point, time literally freezes and we are at a standstill. We no longer could experience foward motion through the dimension of time. It would seem like forever for an observer inside of this.

This could explain the oscillating universe with a beginning and end in time, but having an everlasting cycle without having to explain what happens before the big bang and after the big crunch. It also eliminates the impossibilities of a singularity.

If it’s no trouble, throw me back a line on it…

3. Dave Bacon - November 16, 2006

Berkeley around Telegraph does wax and wain. I never felt unsafe there, but then again, I’m a rather large guy! When I first showed up I used to see drug deals out in the open on Telegraph, but there was a crackdown after my first few years, so that ruined that bit of entertainment for me on my walk in to work.

BTW, the best places to grab a drink aren’t near campus (which tends to fill up with too many undergrads) but are a bit farther afar. I highly recommend the Alabtros down on San Pablo next time you’re in Bezerkely.

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