I'm Jamie; an incurably-curious, hopelessly-idealistic, vegetarian, polyglot-ish plant scientist at Cambridge. I spend too much time listening to music, wandering around the countryside, and eating apples.
penchants: forest walks, benjamin britten, mediaeval history & literature, eastern philosophy, obscure tea blends, copperplate, twilight by the sea, quantum mechanics, thunderstorms, fruit trees, early music, dragonflies, postcards, underground railways, gardening, vapour trails, tiny art galleries, volcanic islands, moths, Virginia Woolf, gin cocktails, travel journals, mountain air, handwriting, continental cinema, bow ties, Lebanese food, historical linguistics, archery, all things Icelandic, & bitter-sweet lemonade.
Thank you for stopping by; do say hello.
The classic photo of the ATLAS detector at CERN before its completion in 2008. This evening I went to a talk at Trinity by Andy Parker, Professor of High Energy Physics and Fellow of Peterhouse. He has worked at CERN for a number of years, having been one of the founders of the ATLAS experiment. Professor Parker spoke about the structure and function of the detectors, their operational history, and their contribution to the 5-sigma confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs boson. He then went on to discuss more recent/current work on hunting for sparticles predicted by supersymmetry theory- initially sleptons and gauginos, but now focussing on squarks (in particular the stop squark). Being slightly wary of SUSY (if only because of its overwhelming popularity), Parker was also keen to discuss alternative theories, especially those string-based strong gravity models that attempt to invoke compactified/curled dimensions to generate a unified framework for strong and weak forces. Scaled up to an intuitive level of organisation, these essentially state that there are additional dimensions to the fabric of spacetime beyond the four that we consciously perceive, and that there may therefore in effect be parallel universes in existence only microns away from our eyes, but along dimensions that we can’t see. Parker concluded by briefly mentioning his research on micro black hole production and analysis. Hopefully when the LHC is back online and generating 14 TeV collisions later this year, we’ll start to get lots of lovely micro black holes to study as well as billions more decay events and showers of exotic particles.
Edit, in response to the comment: To clarify what I meant by ‘parallel universes’, as far as I can- I was referring to the possible (or necessary, depending on how strongly you subscribe to strong gravity) existence of proximate matter in a dimensional plane that is not accessible to our perception but that could conceivably reflect the state of matter in our observable 4D universe. There are other types of ‘parallel universe’, of course- most notable being the idea of the multiverse. As many physicists have themselves stated, the multiverse question may well be more of an issue for philosophers than cosmologists- and I do think that there needs to be more dialogue between those two groups of people if we are to achieve a more complete and nuanced interpretation of the cosmos. I’m much too tired to get into many-worlds, etc, now, but maybe I’ll write more about it another time! Oh, and as for what I found most compelling about the talk… the hunt for sparticles is something that I’ve been following with interest for a while now, so there was that. Any behind-the-scenes details from CERN are always fascinating to me too, I having visited and got some sense of how the place operates a few years back, and having family connexions with it.
Had a phone call from my grandma this evening to tell me that today she felt well enough to spend a whole day out in Cambridge- the first time she’s left her house for three-and-a-half months. So happy :)
A cousin just sent me this picture from where she’s staying at Sandbanks in Dorset. The English south coast can match the Mediterranean any day.
Anonymous asked: Is everything nothing but hydrogen? I'm not stoned I promise. Where are the electrons. Scientist, please inform the layman. Please.
Ha, umm, I’m not sure I understand quite what you’re getting at. There is certainly more than just hydrogen… and even hydrogen has an electron. Unless you’re asking where the electrons are with respect to the nucleus in different atoms-? In which case, they’re basically in a fuzzy probabilistic cloud around it rather than in a fixed-position orbit. I don’t have time to get into quantum mechanics right now, but if you’re interested in it, then ask me about it again and I can give a brief overview.
Anonymous asked: Okay I am new on your blog and I love it :) This is not really a question though still as random as it may sound I am not a big fan if botany but yes i do feel they are the most amazing manifestos( plants) of surreal beauty. Though still I love your blog, the pictures are exquisite. :) and yeah I wanna go to Oxford for Undergraduate as well :)
I’m very pleased to hear I’ve been able to provide you with some foci for your interest in the beauty of plants. And good luck with your efforts towards applying to Oxford! :)
Just got back from college. I went to formal with my supervisor and all the undergrad plant scientists at Clare, as well as Professor Asaph Cousins of Washington State University (and his daughter). Ended up having very lengthy political discussions in the JCR bar afterwards with some Part III NatSci students. Now the dessert wine has caught up with me.
Anonymous asked: So you're a scientist, huh? Well, do you believe in our one true saviour Jesus Christ tho?
No. My one true saviour is Camellia sinensis.
Anonymous asked: gaeilge?
Not yet! One day, hopefully. :)
(The same goes for gàidhlig ;) )
Anonymous asked: What languages can you speak?
A few. Not enough.