DIARY 2002















Tue, Apr 30

<02:35> Yo! the Cap, the obligatory Wappu accessory of the Talos Statue made by L2 and me, waiting for tonight's ceremonies. :-)

Mon, Apr 29

<12:29> Weirdest of things happened early this morning (about 7am) when Willow spontaneously woke up from the sleep mode. I hadn't set up the auto-wakeup because it doesn't seem to work with 2.4.18-rc4.. so perhaps another bug, or an attempted message from The White Rabbit. After that I couldn't sleep properly as Sun was shining, and I went to this state I too often have, where I can neither wake up nor deep-sleep as I'm mentally struggling with a nonsensical challenge or something. This time my mind was split into three Anime warriors (I think) and because of this division, it sort of added up so that I should wake up just before 10am. It's all nonsense now, but I particularly don't get it why one should add the three times together if the warriors were working simultaneously.

It all started last night when I went to Queens' to see David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. It was a genuine Lynch film. While at the end I could piece some things nicely together, there was much going on that left me with a piece of CERN-Finnish joking: "Nngghh?? Is it OK if I play a question mark for a while? *bows to form a '?'*" I keep wondering whether Betty/Diane and Rita/Camilla were supposed to be the same persons, since they were played by the same actresses. In fact Camilla could well be Rita but that doesn't make things any simpler. There's also the box and dwarf mystery which we know fron Lynch's previous works like Twin Peaks.

It was cold when I went to Queens'. I was cold during the film, except of course during the lesboerotic scenes :-P. I was freezing as I got back home. I'm not sure if this means anything, but it was at times a very disturbing piece, though without any hint of gory horror.

Even if you don't know the Lynch style before, or don't happen to like it, there is much to enjoy in this film. One of the main characters is an actress and the scenes where she is rehearsing and being auditioned, are so vivid as to be thought as another level of reality. There isn't an obvious division of realities a'la The Matrix, but a more disturbing sense of uncertainty. Perhaps one part of the film portrays reality and the other a dream, but you cannot know which is which.

And that's how I woke up today, asking myself the Fight Club question: Could you wake up as a different person?

Sat, Apr 27

<00:15> Nnggh. Was enjoying revision work in the afternoon, 2nd year dynamics. Coming back from Cavendish, Rudi's invitation to sauna was awaiting @inbox and I couldn't resist. So here I am in a slightly addled mood after 2 hours of sauna followed by a great Chinese dinner and a couple of pints. Not the best state for resuming work, but what the hack, this is student life :-)

Wed, Apr 24

<23:20> Good news everyone! Around noon today, someone delivered the clouds away from Cambridge and it was a blazingly scorching afternoon. Even Kavoi from Kenya said it was hot. After spending a sesqui-hour outdoors I felt like I needed some Slurm. Someone's been watching too much Futurama apparently! It's quite cool now even in my Scottish style woollen outfit but it was still nice to enjoy the spring over a pint in the park with L2.

Tue, Apr 23

<23:04> Last night no good sleep. Had to wake up inhumanely early for the 9am exam. It felt like I had prepared all the wrong points, the major themes that had been running through previous years. Somehow the questions were full of bits that I'd managed to miss. And there was too much essay writing in QInfo. So I had time only for 3 of 4 questions and felt generally bad.

But it's not the end of the work. Final exam coming up in early June, and there's also the project which.. well, isn't quite finished yet. Fortunately Wappu is on its way even to Britain to conquer the city with white caps and fizzy drinks!

Sat, Apr 20

<18:39> Back to the Finnish Sauna scene @cam last night. Participation level was impressive (4) for the short notice. To our great despair, Standard Tandoori was closed with a note from the landlord, so it may be we won't see them again for a while. The place near the bridge on Mill Road was a good Indian alternative, though perhaps slightly behind Standard's standards.

Thu, Apr 18

<21:05> Finished the book on the planet Vulcan by Baum & Sheehan, the Finnish edition in Art House's Pop Sci series. The book caught my eyes at a discount store in Kuopio, because of the many Vulcan references in The Illuminatus, and the general history/philosophy of science wouldn't hurt.

The style could be a little more absorbing, as the beginning descriptions of finding new celestial objects can be slightly mind-numbing. However, they do explain the adventures (not procedures :-) involved in the more interesting parts: How Neptune is predicted from its gravitational effect on Uranus, and the same with Vulcan/Mercury.

There wasn't much of grand conspiracy around, but there were disturbingly many points where I realized: This is the stuff that Illuminatus is made of. Shea and Wilson had done their homework. While this book is some 20 years newer than The Illuminatus, of course the historical events were around to explore. I suspect part of the '23' mysticism comes from the dates connected with Vulcan. In fact the magical date in this book is 23 September :-), the date when the main character Le Verrier discovered Neptune, and years later, passed away. So my mystical fate arises again...

We know now that the anomalous motion of Mercury is fully explained by Einstein's General Relativity. Interestingly, it does sound like explaining faith away with science. Le Verrier et al. had a kind of religion in Vulcan which they maintained, despite the evidence sometimes speaking against it.

Wed, Apr 17

<00:42> Long time, no films. The blanks of horror and thriller were more than filled by Nightwatch (Nattevagten, Denmark 1994). The Danish environment brings tons of familiarity and credibility as a diametrical opposite of America's big shite (Watch out for the Hollywood 1998 remake). The story is nearly as good as it can be and offers enough surprises and plenty of suspense. Even as it is shown that the most horrible things lie inside people's heads, it was the morgue environment that hit me where it counts. Of course it is a perfect setting for a horror piece like this, but I'm quite carried away by the related thoughts: we are, after all, ugly pieces of meat that by sheer miracles are walking around this globe alive. Ah, the futility of human existence, here we go again: Vanitas Vanitatum. A remark about bodily remains in the film, "It makes you appreciate being alive", while true, has the flip side of making me feel quite sad. Life is an amazing feat and utter futility at the same time, so why am I tilted towards the futile at every encounter like this? Guess it answers a different question: There are some moments when I wonder whether I'm the most confident optimist or the most pathetic pessimist on the local cluster. I'm sad because this is not one of those ambiguous moments, where the thinking itself might make me happy. Which is where you should see a slight contradiction ;-l

Mon, Apr 15

<00:09> The brutalities of jogging and workout have brought about physical serenity. Of course the exercise kills off anxiety and releases endorphins, but the mind is virtually unaffected: restless and uncertain.

<15:01> As I told Lauri, I had to reboot Willow once during the 2-week holiday. The machine crashed when removing the flash memory card, which I use to transfer images from my camera. As much as I suspected a kernel problem, it turned out that pcmcia-cs was buggy and the new release works fine. Yay!

Sun, Apr 14

<01:57> Post-holiday life@cam (not quite Term yet) has kicked off nicely, meeting up with Lauri & Lotta. The Almighty Pizzas of Eraina were sampled on Friday night. Been working on QInfo's old exam questions which don't seem too hard. Saturday I felt like a walk with the G1 and there are several nice new photos resulting. This one I feel is particularly interesting and shows that photography is more about art than exact recording.

Thu, Apr 11

<00:08> The pessimist is amazed to notice the world go round smoothly for once. My trip from Varkaus started like hell but I got through Heathrow in about 20 min which was probably my personal record.

What do trees do in August? You might read the anthology by Leena Krohn for that and more answers, and even more open questions. These short stories have the nice feeling of down-to-Earth SciFi I've previously encountered in Maarit Verronen's stories. Someone said it's like giving a nudge to this unstable structure we call reality, and that the experiment can be very satisfying. It's also the kind of SF which I like to write, because SF is not really about future or technology, and it will be more credible==effective when presented in a familiar environment.

This collection by Krohn is the first I've come across, but I'm expecting a bit more to come. Many of the stories are like first sketches of amazing ideas for further, bigger stories. Which of course doesn't mean they are bad at all.

Another book which I started reading (from the library so I couldn't take it here) was Mirrorshades in its Finnish translation. The first story by William Gibson, a notably psychedelic one, I read on Friday night just before bedtime, after the day of masochistic winter sports and a slight concussion. You wouldn't believe the dreams I had.. too bad I can't remember much of them. However I must say the translation doesn't really cut the chrome. I do believe you could write credible cyberpunk in Finnish (hoping so for my future plans :-). The problem might be that CP is so much about style and less about content, thereby being harder to translate.

Mon, Apr 8

<00:57> Requiem for a Pipe Dream

The weekend at Tahko is behind and there are lasting memories all over my body. I by now had decent confidence with the snowboard in slopes and deep snow, but my piping experience was next to zilch. So there was a new U-shaped challenge waiting for me. After Friday I felt quite beaten and light of head, but it got better as the weekend progressed. Strangely, despite my boarding experience I started to rethink the theoretical dynamics involved, and even discovered a deep connection between snowboarding and martial arts. It's the stance.

Thu, Apr 4

<22:02> Happiness! Not me though. The movie. It's fscking irritating. A bit disturbing, which I think should be the point. I LOLed at the end only, and it probably was only funny because of what was behind. Absorbing in its obscurity and too honest a reality, but I keep losing its message. If a society (The USA I guess) is so fucked up it needs a film like this to wake up, it's probably too dumb to get the hint.

A lot more positive was Marc Levy's first novel which I guess is translated as 'Once upon a time in San Francisco' or something. It will certainly make a grreat movie, Steven Spielberg already working on it, but there was something amateurish about the novel. The style was something I could have written myself. Which translates to: I could write something better. Might be a poor Finnish translation though. Now some notes about the plot: it's a romantic 'almost realistic' story involving the astral plane. The ending is pretty cool as you have to figure out yourself what really happened.

I mostly read that during the bus ride to/from Kuopio where I went to meet Antti the Rigorist. There I also met Antti the Physics Teacher, and did some shopping. After that it was seven hours discussing mostly social philosophy with AtR. Not sure if we got very far because we had discussed a lot of it before. More importantly we could update each others' future plans. Trokari was quiet and nice enough to spend the whole evening after a Chinese meal of hot tofu.

This morning will be a takeoff to Tahko for a sloping weekend. A good way to keep snowboarding from getting boring, is to only do it one weekend a year. It will also be nice to spend time outdoors with such lovely spring around. It's a fine balance between the nightly freeze and the daily sunshine.

Mon, Apr 1

<02:14> "Them" must be the best film I've so far seen during the holiday. This neat piece of SF works very differently from a Hollywood pic, in many ways giving the impression of an episode of The Outer Limits or X-files. The cherry on that cake is a disturbing, open ending that normally would be crying for the next episode (not a sequel!), but is quite acceptable in its style. I'm positively surprised they show something like this on TV. I love the way this starts, in seemingly disconnected events that gradually weave themselves together. Things happen naturally and spontaneously, unlike the strict 'guided' way of too many films. There's also the physicist hero. So it's somewhat naive and generic within TOL/XF style but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some of us do prefer these over the mainstream pentastellar Oscar winners.

<19:56> Pretty good PopSci reading experience by Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe. Probably the best introduction to string/M theory I've encountered. Some analogues and examples of relativity, quantum mechanics (QM) and the like, are amazing in their simple and tangible ways. There are also intriguing anecdotes from physicists' lives. Interesting stuff, even if I feel I don't intend to become a deep theorist.

I'm not sure if Quantum Information is the best thing for me, but it seems like a nice combination of theory, experiments, computing -- and fundamental questions of QM philosophy. I happen to like theoretical stuff and maths, which is reflected in my choices for Physics courses, but I've also tried to keep my feet on the real world, lately notably at Pulp Expert and CERN, which also satisfies the engineer within.

There was a muffled impression in the book about the futility of any deep theory, including The M. One way I see the problem is: what are the strings made of? So far they are 'classical strings', quantized via the usual maths to fulfil quantum relations. Just like the quark theory, this might bring about a more unified and simple picture of elementary particles, without solving the really fundamental problems.

Apart from the problems, it seems there many brilliant people working on the string/M theory (S/M :) and I'd be better off working in a newer field with more open possibilities.

For some time I've felt there could be a unified theory like GR which describes all forces and particles as vibrations in the fabric of spacetime. The book briefly mentions the problem: what is the fabric made of -- weaved of particular strings perhaps? That way, this idea is not much different from S/M.

Don't get me wrong; I want to address some deep questions in physics. Specifically, these are the fundamentals of QM that have been left unnoticed, because QM has been simply a useful calculation tool that brought us things like microchips. However, the meanings of non-local (faster than light) correlations and measurement, among others, lie at the heart of QInfo. Therefore the utility and engineering involved in qubits and quantum computation should not be overemphasized. In a way I'm a philosopher who happens to be interested in maths and hacking.

Risto A. Paju