"La belle Hélène" is a beautiful operetta by Jacques Offenbach. Now for the first time it has been translated and performed in Greek in Athens, by a group of very talented singers under the artistic direction of Panagiotis Adam. I saw "Η Ωράια Ελένη" yesterday at the Olvio theatre in Athens, and I enjoyed it a whole lot. 

The story unfolds as Eleni, the wife of Sparta's king Menelaos, lives in a world where men only concern with warfare and neglect love. As Paris, the prince of Troy, arrives disguised as a sheperd, and catches her attention. Eleni's flirt with Paris is discovered by Menelaos, but the two manage to escape together.

When a feather or a plastic bag or almost anything light is placed in water, these items will generally float.  This is easy to understand if you think of water being more dense than the other item.  If you put something heavier in water, it tends to sink like a rock or a piece of metal but this doesn't fully explain how an iron ship can float.  All of these effects are accounted for due to a property all materials have known as buoyancy.

I received from Ravi Kuchimanchi, the author of a paper to be published in Phys. Rev. D, the following summary, and am happy to share it here. The paper is available in the arxiv.
Are laws of nature left-right symmetric? 


On today's "Dr. Oz" television show, Dr. Mehmet Oz finally addressed what has worried some and infuriated others about his media career; the show addressed the possibility that a gifted medical professional with too many awards to count had gone off the alternative medicine deep end. 

On Oct. 12, 2017, the asteroid 2012 TC4 is slated to whizz by Earth dangerously close.

The exact distance of its closest approach is uncertain, as well as its size.

Based on observations in October 2012 when the space rock missed our planet, astronomers estimate that its size could vary from 12 to 40 meters. The meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, injuring 1,500 people and damaging over 7,000 buildings, was about 20 meters wide.
I used to post on this blog very abstruse graphs from time to time, asking readers to guess what they represented. I don't know why I stopped it - it is fun. So here is a very colourful graph for you today. You are asked to guess what it represents. 



I am reluctant to provide any hints, as I do not want to cripple your fantasy. But if you really want to try and guess something close to the truth, this graph represents a slice of a multi-dimensional space, and the information in the lines and in the coloured map is not directly related. Have a shot in the comments thread! (One further hint: you stand no chance of figuring this out).

The Need to Update the Article

The purpose of trying to assess the understanding of my students on alcoholic beverages, unexpectedly led to the need to update the article they read.

The Process


Although I have done my share of writing on Dr. Oz (much of it humorous, and some just in poor taste), the following has nothing to do with me.
I used to work with a programming language called Business Basic.  It was descended through several generations from the original Dartmouth BASIC.  Like all primitive 3rd generation languages early Business Basic languished in the era of line numbered source code, shared data spaces, and loose typing.  Modern Business Basic languages now offer object-oriented programming features.  And after much grousing and arguing among the aging user base we finally got rid of the line numbers in the late 1990s or early 2000s, although I joined the early adopters who simply coded outside the interpreter without line numbers.

On April 11th 2015 I delivered a presentation on the subject of Quantum Gravity in which I questioned the basic assumption that quantum is more fundamental than relativity.  Relativization is the name for the approach I propose.  In a nutshell let us try treating relativity as the more fundamental set of principles and make quantum field theory obey those.  The talk was well received.    There is still lots of work do on this and a lifetime to do it in, but the approach is now firmly not "crackpot".  Indeed as the money plot from my presentation shows this approach gets a very nice result for the behavior of black holes. 

The talk: