A Less-Seen View of Complex Numbers

This post is a little different from the last one, only because it's more about mathematics than physics. It's based on thoughts I have been having about complex numbers and how they relate to 2-dimensional vectors. Follow the jump to see more.


An Ode to Johnson Noise

This idea for a post has been percolating for a while. I feel like now I am finally ready to share it.
Last semester, in the class 8.13 — Experimental Physics I, one of the experiments that I did was investigating the phenomena of Johnson noise and shot noise and using thes to find, respectively, the Boltzmann constant and electron charge. The other experiments that I did were investigating properties of hydrogen-like atoms through spectroscopy, and determining the speed and decay times of cosmic-ray muons. By far the best and worst experience was with Johnson noise. Follow the jump to read on.


Featured Comments: Week of 2013 February 10

There was one post this past week that got a handful of comments, so I will repost all of those.

Review: Chakra 2013.02 "Benz"

Reader Mechatotoro had this to say: "Very useful review, thanks. I am also tempted to install Chakra..."
Commenter crabdog shared, "Had a bit of a play with it on a virtual machine. It looks pretty cool but would take something even better to make me change from my Netrunner KDE installation which I am still loving."
An anonymous reader said, "Looks like this is the best release the chakra team ever had".
Another anonymous commenter had this bit of support: "Thank you, great rewiev, keep tracking Chakra :)"

Thanks to all those people for commenting on that post. This coming week, I intend to start a long-term review of Chakra, though that of course won't finish for a few weeks. Until then, I may or may not have other distribution reviews out. However, I do intend to post a bit more about physics- and school-related stuff, and that will pick up this week. Anyway, if you like what I write, please continue subscribing and commenting!


Review: Chakra 2013.02 "Benz"

Main Screen + KDE Kickoff
It's been a while since I looked at Chakra, so I was thinking now might be a good time to do that. Plus, KDE 4.10 just came out with a whole bunch of new features and fixes, so I wanted to check that out too. So this is the subject of today's review.

I've tried Chakra a number of times before. It was originally derived from Arch, but since a couple years ago it has been developed in a fully independent manner. It uses a "semi-rolling" release model, in which applications like Mozilla Firefox and other front-end features like KDE are updated on a rolling basis, while core system components are held to be more stable.

I tried this (64-bit version, as there is no 32-bit edition anymore) on a live USB system made through the "dd" command; due to Chakra now using the GFXBoot tool for booting, neither MultiSystem nor UnetBootin worked, and I didn't have any other data on this USB drive, so I was OK with using that tool. This review almost didn't happen because right after the boot menu, the message "invalid or corrupt kernel image" would come up. I decided to give this one last shot by downloading the ISO file again and trying again, and it worked! Follow the jump to see what it's like.


Sixth Semester at College

Today is the first day of my sixth semester at college. I'll be taking 8.06 — Quantum Physics III, 8.14 — Experimental Physics II (also known colloquially as "J-Lab"), and 14.03 — Microeconomic Theory & Public Policy. I feel like taking three classes apart from J-Lab was too much last semester, so taking two this semester should make my schedule feel a lot more sane and manageable. Plus, now I have a handle on what J-Lab expects, so striving to meet that should be easier now. Finally, I did this because my UROP sort of fell to the wayside last semester, and I don't want that to happen this semester, so now I should be able to spend more time on both classes and that. Hopefully this semester will be a good one; good luck to all my fellow classmates out there!


Reflection: 2013 IAP

This IAP was a ton of fun, and I was also able to get quite a bit done. The highlight was in my UROP, which is a continuation of what I was doing in the past semester. In late November, there was a power outage that reintroduced a previously-fixed bug into the computing cluster that I used, which caused various issues for my photonic crystal calculations. After trying several different workarounds, it wasn't until two weeks ago that I figured out how to properly route around the issue; when that happened, I was quite happy to have sensible, working flux spectrum calculations. Some people from the main UROP office also came to chat with me about what I am doing for my UROP, which was cool. At the same time, I was able to start wrapping up my project from the 2011 fall semester by creating more proper figures for the work I did then.
On the side, I worked on a video for the MIT-K12 initiative, which is a partnership between MIT and the Khan Academy. I was able to create a video about friction aimed at middle school students, and I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out. It should become official in a few weeks, at which point I will have either an update to this post or a separate follow-up post to include links to that and the result of the UROP chat (whenever that gets finalized).
I was also able to start typesetting lecture notes for 8.04 — Quantum Physics I for use by MIT OCW. I'm working with two other friends on that as well to get it done more efficiently.
The last week of IAP was particularly hectic. Along with the UROP chat, I was able to participate at the Diversity Summit as part of a panel of students with disabilities. Also, I helped to organize the SPS and UWIP joint Physics Lightning Lectures event.
There were a few things I was not able to do, but those can be done later, and I am glad that I gave myself enough time to rest and take life at a more relaxed pace compared to that of the semester. That said, this blog will likely reenter a sort of hibernation once the semester starts next Tuesday (and another post on that will likely occur on Monday or Tuesday of this coming week). Anyway, for this weekend, I am just going to relax and enjoy the large televised football game tomorrow!