The Einstein Approximation

It is often told that the best way to solve a problem, especially ones based on logic or rational thinking, is to put it to the back of your mind and let your subconscious deal with it.

It’s mostly mentioned when referring to Einstein who famously developed his theory of relativity while supposedly wokring at a patent office, which is apparently mind numbing enough to allow some highly complex physics to be derived instead. It was also popularised with Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory who famously tried many tricks to get his brain to work out the problem he was having, and one of which included working at the Cheesecake Factory.

I had the exact event occur to me this morning as I dragged myself out of bed after telling my alarm to snooze just that little bit longer. We were given a Mechanics sheet last week that I did completely, except for the last question. I was sure I could do it as I could see the answer, I just couldn’t derive it. It was to be handed in today and it had been driving me insane. Somehow my minimal amount of sleep had put my brain into a heightened sense and the problem was cracked, as obvious as day.

For those curious, the problem (which has a link here) actually needed me to recall the product rule of differentiation across the dot and cross product. Simple when you know how it is meant to be done.

Imagination in Physics

When I mention that I am studying physics people generally have the same reaction which follows one of the three responces: ‘How interesting,’ ‘That must be hard’ or ‘Isn’t that a bit dull.’ The first one is not an issue but the other two always spark me to confront them on that opinion, and the argument I use is both the same. Imagination.

To me, Physics has never been to hard as I am good at understanding the abstract concept. The maths is not quite so simple, but if you mentally manipulate the situation you can get the maths to fit the situation. Makes it so much easier.

It’s the same reason why it isn’t dull. Physics is, to me, one of the most creative subjects out there. The whole subject relies on thinking outside the box to manipulate situations so that you can work out the problem. It is about thinking about the monstrously massive Universe and turning it to a few points of mass that are manipulable. It is all about imagining the situation and working out what to do from it.

But why have I chose to write about this subject? It was due to an event in my physics class yesterday. We were looking at vectors with certain forces and moving to practical applications and we moved onto frictional forces. The situation was that we were moving a box of beer across a rough surface, and we were asked whether it took more effort to move it straight from A to B or whether we did a massively wiggly and indirect route. The answer is obviously to go straight from A to B.

If the answer isn’t obvious then I’ll very quickly explain it. Dragging the box uses energy, and for simplicity we’ll say that for every metre dragging the box you use J energy. So, to move the box 10m you use 10J of energy. Any route that isn’t exactly a straight line will use more than 10J energy. Very simple.

However, one guy in our class could not understand this. His logic was that as it is a vector, it must balance out as you subtract and attract so therefore you get the energy back somehow. While his maths was firstly wrong, as friction always opposes the direction motion so when you go to a negative direction the friction switches direction as well so two negatives make a positive, the fact that if you even think about it for a second you work out that dragging a box 400 metres takes more effort than dragging it four metres.

Think people, it’s infuriating.

Day Trip to Cardiff

On Saturday night, after a chat on Skype, I decided to head off to Cardiff the next morning. There was a reason however, as I went to visit my friend from school Dan.

It was a good little adventure that broke what would have otherwise been a very lazy Sunday. A £6 return ticket got me to Cardiff and back (though I could have got back without a ticket as there was no one checking for tickets and the barriers were offline) where a spent the day catching up and playing video games.

Though it may seem like a little thing, because I didn’t bring my PS3 down to Swansea with me, just an hour or two of gaming is incredibly relaxing and fills you with old memories of all the simpler times.

The whole of yesterday was just really nice as all the stresses and worries of University. While it is still relatively slow paced, the work is beginning to amass and become more frequent, and consuming more of my time.

So, all in all, the thing I can conclude from yesterdays adventure was that the old saying ‘It’s the little victories in life’ is true.

Work-Reward Contstants

I’m rocking this blog up in an half hour gap between work. I don’t even have that much work to do right now but I like to stick to this internal schedule ensure I keep working.

My current efforts mainly involve 45 minutes of work and 20-30 minutes break (depending on what I need to do during that break. For example, watching YouTube or checking Facebook only gets 20 minutes while cooking tea or lunch deserves the full 30 minutes) The breaks themselves always contain some kind of reward because, in the most basic of psychologies. Reward for hard work is basically positive conditioning.

This writing malarkey may not seem like a reward but it’s a relaxing way to turn the unorganised mess that is my inner monologue and turning it into a vaguely coherent series of words, it’s quite theraputic.

The work to reward ratio I have at the moment is proving mighty productive but I may have to switch it up during exams to get more work out of myself. Either way, I’ll update you as go.

Humanist?

Most of you that know me will know that my religious persuasion lies about as far into atheist as you can get. I find the concept of a god absurd, I see the need for one as unnecessary, I find religion oppressive and damaging and see faith in higher beings as merely an evolutionary throwback.

So I’m an atheist, but many avoid the term atheist for reasons that I quite determine. Atheist apparently has negative connotations or other preconceptions that means people prefer the term ‘humanist.’

I however, do not.

There are two main reasons why I generally oppose the term humanist. The first reason is that I have a general opposition to organised religion, and humanist the term has no association to a group, all the major groups refer to themselves as the ‘[Insert Country] Humanist Association.’

And why do I oppose the groups? Because they tie views to all its members which may not be shared by others. I’ll get to the points in a second, but I do not wish to have the views of every other atheist automatically expected to be the same as mine.

The second is the almost militant approach of these humanist societies. I obviously expect not to be discriminated against because of my religious views but I don’t ever notice any real discrimination. I know there is an issue with an awkward sub-part of the marriage licenses that seem to give some ‘higher’ ranking to marriages certified in a civil way. This is stupid, and I will bring it up in debates to educate the point, but beyond that I know of no other discrimination.

The organisation also trains people to offer ‘humanist’ naming ceremonies, marriages and funerals. In my opinion this is just profiteering and not at all my style.

I’ll stop ranting for I become completely incoherent but I hope this has explained my view on the humanist movement.

Four Hour Labs

Mondays are a long day for me at University, despite only having one lecture. I instead suffer a four hour lab session. Grim.

It’s not that I mind having four hours of lectures in a row, I could even take more. It is just that four hours in one place, without moving, aimlessly trecking through a pretty monotonous experiment having to be recockulously pedantic with the layout and presentation of the results.

I’m hoping the experiments get a little more interesting because todays was just dull. I understand that the point of today’s experiment was not to uncover anything amazing but instead to learn about errors and the like, but that didn’t stop it being boring, broken and rubbish.

It was the experiment to find the acceleration of gravity using a pendulum. The equipment they gave us to hold the pendulum allowed periodic motion within the clamp, so we couldn’t measure the length of the string properly and it was dampening it in odd ways.

My lab session for tomorrow for Astronomy and Cosmology has been moved to Week 6 so I have tomorrow afternoon free so it should give me enough time to do my summation homework and visit Tesco and the market to pick up some more food.

I’ve gone nearly two weeks without out doing a proper shop so I need to pick some more food up so I can eat again.

Fresher’s Ball

Last night was Fresher’s ball which highlights the end of Freshers Fortnight here in Swansea and means the lessons are about to properly start (which reminds, I have a maths problem to deal with this afternoon).

To culminate a fortnight of events (which our house didn’t turn up to) there was the Freshers ball. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it but I felt I had to turn up to at least one other event, and seeing as this was the big one it was probably the best one to turn up to. It did however mean I had to rush out to Primark and buy a suit but that’s a discussion for another time.

The Ball started at 8PM but our houses amazing promptness meant we rocked up not much after 9PM. The start wasn’t too bad with Radio 1’s Aled Jones attempt to excite the crowd but I don’t have much love for Aled (not that I have particular hate for him either, mind) and the only thing he was telling us was that Diane Vickers was coming on, which didn’t really thrill me.

A grime artist call Scorcher later came on and he wasn’t too bad. As far as MC’s go he was pretty at what he did, but one of my house mates wanted to get some cash so I accompanied him to the hole-in-the-wall to be a good friend. By the time we got back Diana Vickers was on stage and I couldn’t even hide my disappointment.

The music up to that had been pop, club or Top 40, basically something with a defined beat that people were bopping along to. Her style is more West End and Ballads which didn’t really fit with the night. Plus, she had come in what looked like her pyjamas, and considering she was the highest paid act there she should have least tried.

After she finished Aled came back on to tell us there was one more act, a DJ called Beat-ä-Maxx. I wasn’t expecting much because the night had been pretty average. Beat-ä-Maxx rocked up on to stage and set up his deck, I was going to issue the 3 songs rule about the quality of the DJ (if within the first three songs you are not impressed they are not going to get better) but something completely unexpected happened.

The voice over guy (from shows like X-Factor) reared his bold head on the two massive TV’s and informed us that everything we heard and saw was being sampled and mixed live. That instantly interested me because I had never heard of live video DJ’ing, and my interest did not fade for the whole hour and a half show.

He seamlessly mashed songs, video, TV, film, comedian’s stand up (this included Chris Rock and Micheal McIntyre who was talking about Swansea) and even adverts. It was seamless and incredibly impressive to watch and even had time half way through his show to break out moves like this.

All in all, the night was worthwhile just due to the last act. I recommend you check out his YouTube channel and website to see the stuff he does.