© Fernando Caracena, 2015
Here on my personal website, I keep a blog—a sort of open-source stream of consciousness. I write usually about physics, sometimes about computers, about philosophy, and perhaps, about social-technical issues. Perhaps it is all just a beau geste. I think mostly outside of the box, as many physicists do who are willing to discuss other things besides physics, for example as in The Reference Frame.
About The Author
In 2012, I decided to set up a web page. A friend of mine had one for his own business, which he designed and wrote himself using PHP. I wanted a faster approach that would get me up quickly. My son suggested that I use WordPress, which is a blogging software package that happened to be installed on my server. With this software, I could maintain more than a web page. I could write an indefinite number of posts. I did not have a business in mind. There would be no advertising. The theme was not a paid theme and I would do all the design and writing myself. Some details about the posts are available at the web page, About this Blog and FAQs.
I am a theoretical physicist who received a PhD from Case Western Reserve University for work on the theory of the intermediate vector Boson of weak interactions. A web page, "About the Author", describes some of my professional background, which the post, "The PhD Glut in Physics" further elaborates. The post, "Fernando's Open Journal--The computer as the physicist's pencil" describes some of my philosophy about the use of computers in science. Perhaps that post overemphasises the use of computers in physics, but the pencil analogy tames the role of computers to that of a convenient tool used by humans, like a pencil. The computer is not an auricle, really no substitute for the human imagination. It is a tool, somewhat sophisticated in the right hands, but just a tool.
Modern physicists use computers extensively. They often face a huge load of data processing, such as in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The post, "Particle Manifestation of Quantum States Part 1", describes the big data handling problem of the LHC. Automation solves a lot of big-science data collecting problems and its processing. In both these activities, computers and networks of computers are powerful tools. The science itself remains a very human activity. In trying to study every possible corner of physical reality, physicists have motivated a great deal of innovation and development of technology, often forming the cutting edge of technology.
Physics, a fascinating study, aims to discover the basic patterns behind the operations and structures of nature. It uses mathematics as a language; pursues that mathematical logic to its limits; explores the nature of physical reality; and tries to reach the highest understanding of it all. This adventure could absorb my entire attention; but I also like to share some of the excitement and results of physics with interested people outside the field.
Presently, I work on my own and research focusing on whatever interests me at the time. I rely principally on my library and the Web for information to broaden my knowledge and understanding, and to maintain an edge in my skills; but there are also other technical libraries in the Boulder area that I can access. I program on my own computer, using a variety of languages, both of the compiled and scripted/interpreted type. Using a scripted language, such as IDL or python, lets me develop ideas faster than a compiled language. Scripting is therefore my preference for discovering relationships and patterns in data.
Even though I can work with a lot of data, I do not call myself a data scientist. My emphasis is on ideas and concepts; but the computer furnishes a means of connecting ideas with data. Currently, I program mostly in IDL script, which is very nice because of its power, scope, and support. My interest in python stems from my interest in using the parallel processing power of the modern Graphics Processing Units (GPU)s on a PC graphics card to gain supercomputer power on the desktop. Through python one has a means of accessing the automated solution of partial differentialequations using finite elements on GPUs (see FEniCS Project).
I would be interested in collaborating with some group, perhaps in industry, on a challenging problem involving physics. My eclectic interests have taken me in a variety of research directions. My extensive physics background puts me in a good position to help someone define and solve a difficult problem. At my stage of development, however, I am more interested in a semi autonomous, collaborative venture. Perhaps, I could work as a new kind of consultant. I am interested in developing new ways of interacting with industrial enterprises.
Fernando's Open Journal--The computer as the physicist's pencil.