Friday, August 31, 2007


Thursday, August 30, 2007


This article came up on the preprint server just yesterday:

I have studied a sample of 200,000 elliptical galaxies with redshifts below 0.20 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to investigate whether they tend to have their ellipticities aligned along a particular axis. The data show a 13 standard deviation signal for such an alignment. The axis is close to the spiral spin axis found previously and to that of the quadrupole and octopole moments in the WMAP microwave sky survey.

This is actually really exciting because it is the first solid evidence of an anisotropy in the galaxies which could potentially point to cosmic-scale asymmetries acting in the birth of our universe. The paper boils down to the existence of an axis running through the universe along which observed elliptical galaxies seem to be oriented. This sounds a lot like the orientation of dipoles in a ferromagnet, a good example being the alignment of atoms' dipole moments in a bar magnet: The atoms left to their own devices would usually prefer to be aligned randomly, as it usually costs more energy to align with the atom next to you than to align opposite. One thing that can cause a large scale alignment is the presence of a strong magnetic field, especially when temperatures are high. In the birth of the universe, temperatures were definitely high (in the range of 10^6-10^12 Kelvin during formative processes) and so a large magnetic anisotropy might cause an alignment like this in the formation of the galaxies. I don't understand very well where a magnetic field like this could originate and at what point in time it would be effective in causing an elliptical galaxy to align with it, but the possibility of such a large magnetic field is the interesting part: From what would such a phenomenon originate?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is that so?

Really? Are you sure?

It never fails to surprise me and I forget every time: I <3 quantum mechanics.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Will Try And Know Whatever I Try

I will be gone, but not forever.

I think the Dear Diary theory is correct: The more correct things in your life are going, the less you write in a blog/diary/journal. <3.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Judge Your Audience

The Dance Party tonight was extremely successful, thanks to Hunter. Tons of people showed up and I've definitely never been that sweaty. Lots of great people made it out and that always makes the night.

Today's theme is: Misjudging your audience when you make a joke.
I'll give an example.

Say your friend is walking out of the shower wrapped in a towel.
Your friend makes a joke about how dirty he was, pantomiming with towel to skin action.
Naturally -- since you're well read and all that -- the obvious joke that comes to mind is "Out Damn Spot!"

This is incorrect.

After much discussion, the proper response is decidedly:
"What's up dude? Still smell like shit?"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hero Regime Change

I think I have a new hero/man-crush: Sudhir Venkatesh.

My first experience regarding his work was with Freakonomics, where he contributed on the chapter analyzing similarities between drug-dealing gangs and corporate structure. Apart from making some really brilliant points about the structure itself, he sheds a lot of light on possible sociological causes in re gang formation. But the brilliance aside, the sheer hang-low it took to approach and spend years with an inner city Chicago gang is just insanity. It would be rad if quarks talked -- or dealt crack to less elementary particles.

Anyhow, you can find his research online and here's his bio:
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