Warped ideas

I was in Rome airport not long ago, and noticed that the reflection of the striped ceiling looked warped and bent due to the non-flatness of the reflecting surface:

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What else to do when waiting in the departures lounge?

As I’m sure will be familiar to any traveller, the excruciating boredom of an airport drives the mind to wander, so here is my derivation of the underlying mirror surface structure from this image.

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The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason

Intriguing title, no? These are the first eleven words of Neal Stephenson’s novel Seveneves, which set up the remaining 600 pages as an extended treatise on the future of humanity as it copes with certain annihilation. I thoroughly recommend it, as long as you can deal with hundreds of pages of orbital mechanics. In this post I will numerically explore this post-lunar age, to verify for myself if it would be as deadly as described.

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The Travelling Artist Problem

This is the second in a series of posts involving the travelling salesman problem, somehow even more frivolous than the first. This is no coincidence, as I have recently been reading the excellent book ‘In Pursuit of the Travelling Salesman‘, which goes into great detail on the history of the problem and algorithmic techniques for tackling it. The topic which caught my eye was decidedly less technical, as we shall see below.

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Synchrotron Radiation

I was recently at CERN for one of their accelerator schools, learning about new and potentially disruptive plasma-based particle accelerator technology (disclaimer alert – the subject of my PhD). In honour of such a famous institution, I though I’d write about the worst enemy of CERN (and the friend of plasma accelerators) – synchrotron radiation.

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