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Posts Tagged ‘Angles and Demons’

Italy visit in March

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Quantum Diaries starts again. At its first start in 2005, my friend Zhizhong Xing, a neutrino theorist, contributed a lot of interesting articles. After the Quantum Diaries paused, Zhizhong moves to a Chinese scientists’ blog site, http://www.sciencenet.cn/u/xingzz, keep spreading all kinds of fancy news.

It is said that this restart is more or less motivated by the upcoming release of the movie “Angels and Demons”. I am very impressed by this novel. “Angles and Demons” is written by Dan Brown. A physicist at CERN created anti-matter, which could be used as a MDW (Mass Destruction Weapon), which we failed to search out in Iraq. The anti-matter was stolen and hidden in Vatican to threaten the on-going Pope election. When I heard the news that Quantum Diaries will be restarted, I am preparing for a workshop in Venice, Italy, Neutrino Telescope 2009. Last time I visited Italy was in 2005, soon after I read this novel. I went to Frascatti in suburb of Roma for the Neutrino Factory Workshop. I have been in Roma once in 2000, as a tourist. But I haven’t any impression on the metaphor of the buildings described in Dan’s novel. After the meeting, I came to Roma in the early morning by train. My flight was in the evening. I had one day to investigate these great buildings. The left-baggage office at the train station was crowded incredibly with a 2-hour long queue. Thus I had a very special experience, with a backpack and a luggage, walking along the route in Dan’s novel, up to the Castle Santa Angelo.

Back to the Venice meeting. Venice in March is very beautiful. Italian food and wine are excellent. Of course, the talks and discussions are identically interesting. For example, Prof. Minakata from Tokyo Metropolitan University gave a talk titled “Neutrino non-standard Interactions: Another eel under a willow?”. Actually he means “another loach under a willow”, a Japanese proverb. Loaches like to live under willow trees. This proverb means that just because you caught a loach under the willow tree once, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will always be a loach there. He asked the audience if they know loach. I am surprised that nobody responded yes. Probably that’s why Minakata San changed the loach to eel. I am no longer a theorist for long time, thus have difficulties to catch point from a bunch of formula in this talk. But I know loach very well. It is common in rice-planting area. Well, there is a famous Chinese dish, called loach in Tofu.

量子日记又重新跟大家见面了。2005年量子日记启动的时候,我的朋友、中微子理论家邢志忠教授曾为大家贡献了不少有趣的文章。量子日记暂停后,志忠又转战科学网博客,坚持不懈,孜孜不倦地提供各种小道消息。

据说这次重新启动与《天使与魔鬼》电影5月15日公映活动有关。《天使与魔鬼》是丹•布朗写的小说,《达•芬奇密码》的姊妹篇。小说的背景是欧洲核子研究中心的科学家维特勒研制出了蕴含着极其强大能量的反物质,结果被人杀害,反物质被人窃取,藏到了梵帝冈,用以要挟即将进行的教皇选举。接到量子日记重新启动的消息的时候,我正在准备去意大利参加“中微子望远镜2009”研讨会。上一次去意大利是2005年,我刚看完《天使与魔鬼》不久,到罗马郊区的Frascatti参加“中微子工厂”研讨会。2000年时候,我曾经到罗马走马观花地旅游过一次,但对书中建筑的种种隐喻完全没有印象。开完会后,第二天清晨坐火车来到罗马。飞机要很晚才起飞,我有将近一天的时间重新看一看。罗马火车站行李寄存处生意兴隆,排了至少两小时的长龙。于是我背着包,拖着行李箱,沿着丹•布朗的路线,一直走到天使堡。

威尼斯的三月非常漂亮,意大利饭和红酒非常好,当然,会议报告也同样有意思。例如,来自东京都立大学的Minakata教授做了一个报告叫“中微子非标准相互作用:柳树下的又一条鳗鱼?”。出处来自日本的一条谚语“柳树下的又一条泥鳅”。泥鳅据说喜欢呆在柳树下,你曾经在柳树下找到了一条泥鳅,但并不意味着在同一个地方还能抓到一条。他问“你们知道泥鳅吗?”,与会的大部分西方人没有反应。我想这也是他题目中把泥鳅改成鳗鱼的原因。我已长久不关心理论物理,因此无法在报告内容的一大堆符号中抓住关键。不过我很熟悉泥鳅,它在适宜种植水稻的水乡是非常常见的。还有一道名菜叫“泥鳅豆腐”。

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