The mad ramblings of a scientist
July 2006
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Inspector Lewis

A great show, that is appearing on PBS as part of their Mystery series. If you are a fan of the Inspector Morse series (or the Colin Dexter books, which are very good themselves), this is a show you do not want to miss.

Posted at: 10:45 PM
Categories: Diary
A new trumpet

Now that I have a bit more disposable income, I am thinking of buying a new trumpet to replace an old professional 1974 model I have owned for most of my life. The interesting question is do I buy (a modern version) of the same model (a Bach Stradivarius) or something still nice but a little different (like a Yamaha Xeno). Both will cost around $1800.

The quality of a trumpet is subjective, and there are always trade offs. A brass instrument can be constructed to produce a richer sound but require more skill or endurance to play. Some designs sound better at lower registers than higher ones. So, the choice could be hard to make. You can find some opinions online, along with a list of even higher-end custom trumpets you can buy.

I am by no means a professional player, but I am still pretty good. I suppose I will just have to find a local store and ask to try some out and see how they sound.

Posted at: 12:35 PM
Categories: Diary

Friday, July 28, 2006

The ideal job, no more?

Having just changed careers myself, I found this slashdot discussion very revealing. The question posed: is there is a place for a young person who just graduated with a technical higher degree (in this case, mechanical engineering) to do basic research without "the pressure of money and immediate results"?

The answer is basically no, of course. How can you ask for someone in the private sector to pay your salary without a good chance for a return on their investment? Basic research in the public domain is hopelessly underfunded. Basic research with military applications is well funded, but many of us don't want to work on better ways of killing people.

The best choice for most job searchers is to find a good company working on something worthwhile and challenging.

Posted at: 10:58 PM
Categories: Diary

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sell out

Here is the story from the Associated Press.

It just goes to show you. Nevermind if a so-called "expert" has credentials like a faculty position at a major University, you still need to follow the money if you want to judge credibility. Most scientists are honest, but all it takes is a couple loud and greedy jerks to sway opinions.

Posted at: 11:24 PM
Categories: Physics in the news

Friday, July 21, 2006

Administration's research priorities for 2008

Here is an interesting tidbit, reported by FYI: the administration's research and development priorities for the 2008 fiscal year. Emphasis is placed on six broad subjects: homeland security, energy security, advanced networking and high-end computing, nano-technology, complex biological systems, and the environment.

Posted at: 10:05 PM
Categories: Biotechnology, Physics in the news