About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2nd day of school

I'm preparing to go to school --- it's pretty early. I woke up around 4:30 am so that I'll get to school before 7:30 am. In fact, I should probably have gotten up around 3 am so that I could fully enjoy my morning ritual of brewed coffee and preparing for teaching.

Last semester was very hard on me because the class was at 7 am-- the 30 minute difference was enough to put the rest of the day out of kilter for me, especially since I sleep around 10 pm. I did sleep earlier last night so that I could at least have 7 hours of sleep, and I'll probably try to maintain a schedule of getting to bed around 8:30 pm.

I finished reading Audrey Niffenegger's book, The Time Traveler's Wife, two days ago. Some parts were pretty good-- but on whole it's probably like one of the cloying desserts that are good for three or so spoons worth and no more. I did like the allusion to Odysseus, and the hook that pulled me in (while reading the book in the bookstore-- which caused me to buy it) was the prologue. Clare waiting, reminding me of one of Neruda's poems. Another thing that I liked was the way the author worked on making the time-travelling self-consistent, which seems to be good physics (see Novikov's self-consistency condition for time travel).

Time travel is among the things I think about scientifically because it turns a lot of the paradigms we use around, The usual way of posing the laws of physics is as an initial value problem: If I know the state of the universe now, the laws of physics dictate how the universe changes from now to tomorrow. This kind of statement-- known as the Cauchy statement-- doesn't work when dealing with a (for now hypothetical) universe that allows time travel.

There is another book that I read on the physics of time travel (by J. Richard Gott III) that tries to discuss the issues involved as seen from the theoretical physicists end. I favor the self-consistent histories approach, but have no basis for belief except a feeling that time travel ought to be doable so long as it's self-consistent.

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