As it is now two weeks that I didn’t write anything here, I guess that I am due for some explanations. First, let me clarify that I won’t disappear without warnings for 18 months like I did a couple of years ago (as a reminder, I didn’t plan this; it just happened). This time the situation is indeed a bit different and with calmer boundary conditions.
The last two weeks were in fact very intense in terms of university duties and travels (yeah, traveling is now an option again ;) ). Consequently, I found neither the time nor the energy for the extra miles related to an online presence. My body is not what it used to be anymore (I guess this is just what getting older means…).
As I have an upcoming long flight across the pond, I can probably safely say that a next physics post should be released tomorrow, shortly followed by the fourth episode of our citizen science particle physics project on Hive.
In the meantime, here is a short write-up about what I have done during these two weeks, and some details about the plans for the upcoming days. If by any chance you want to guess where I am, you can find a clue in the picture below (I agree this is not very secret and hidden). If you don’t want to guess, it is sufficient to read this short post further.
Finally, feel free to use the comment section of this blog to ask me anything, especially concerning the topics you want me to address in the next couple of months. I will be especially pleased to deal with those requests (if they lie within my domain of expertise).
The last week of the semester!
Two weeks ago started the last week of the semester. This resulted in an intense increase of my university duties. Unlike in many other countries, professors in the French system do not have teaching assistants to deal with the creation of exam subjects, marking, exercise classes, etc. This is all done by ourselves, and it does take time.
As a side note, this is fine and by no means a complaint. Somewhat, I live in France for so many years and there are advantages and disadvantages of the local academic system (as usual, there is no free lunch). I am definitely happy with the bright and the dark side of the system. Otherwise it is clear that I won’t be living in France anymore.
To come back to describe how busy my week was, I had first to deal with 10-15 oral presentations of first-year students discussing topics in relativity (@yaziris: the Pound-Rebka talks were great), cold atom physics, high-energy physics, mechanics, etc. This was the final evaluation of their one-month-long project that needed to include an explicit computation and some bibliographical research. At the end, the full exercise was super interesting, and I am proud to say all students did amazingly well. It was just very exhausting as the presentations lasted for 7-8 consecutive hours!
In addition, I had to deal with my usual teaching duties, that were reduced to 4 hours in class this week. This included some live experiments with magnets (two weeks later, one of my fingers is still suffering from a stupid accident), and the supervision of student teamworks on the topic of electromagnetic induction. I like very much this way of illustrating lectures through real-time experiments and ‘forcing’ students to work together and collaborate.
Active learning is in my opinion the way to go with the current generation of students. This however requires some preparation, and for weird reason I am always pushed for time for these… (as for mostly anything else). Consequently, I ended the semester exhausted and almost burned out… again… I never learn apparently :D
Finally, I could also ‘celebrate’ the end of the week ended with a mid-term exam, whose 43 transcripts were marked during my flight to the US. Marking is always a good way to spend a 6-7 hours long flight…
Machine learning in Boston (USA)
The current week, that is about to end in a few hours, was dedicated to a trip to Boston. The aim of this trip was to meet MIT researchers working on machine learning techniques and methods. For many years, I have some ideas about how to explore theories beyond the Standard Model of particle physics more efficiently with the help of such methods.
The cornerstone of the approach I have in mind is to account in a novel manner for the results of the numerous analyses on-going at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. We cannot ignore these analyses and associated data. However, including them in a model exploration process often consists of the bottleneck in terms of computing time.
I know for some time already that another researcher currently at MIT shares this idea too. I took the opportunity to fly there to meet him (I could do that as teaching was over). This meeting was a good opportunity to sit down and start investigating what we could do in a not too far future. During the trip, I unexpectedly met another colleague, so that the visit gave a boost to one of my dark matter projects as a bonus.
I may discuss these subjects one of these days, in my posts. We will see when. :)
[Credits: geralt (Pixabay)]
And now what’s next (on chain)?
I am about to fly back to Paris in a couple of hours, and I thus slowly prepare the next blogs I will post here.
First of all, my last blog was about composite models and how to find them. This was not a matter of randomness, and I definitely plan to further discuss composite models for the next few weeks.
I will focus on recent publications of mine discussing composite dark matter (I may write this one while I will be above the pond in a few hours) and options to track down light new composite particles at future colliders.
In addition, the third episode of my citizen science project on Hive is now over for like a week, and we are thus due for the fourth episode. It will concern the analysis of top-antitop production and decay at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and will be dedicated to physics (and not to the necessary technical and painful installation of any software).
I hope that @agreste, @eniolw, @gentleshaid, @isnochys, @mengene (is everything all right? I didn’t see your third report), @metabs, @servelle and @travelingmercies are ready! By the way, anyone interested in joining this project can still do it. There is no deadline of what so ever. More information is available from all blogs posted with the #citizenscience tag (mine and the reports of the participants to the project).
That’s all for today! Before leaving, here is a picture I took from the plane while landing in Virginia (I didn’t book a direct flight to Paris).
See you very soon for some physics, and feel free to suggest anything for the next topic you would like to see me addressing.