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No response till the last day!


Please do write a comment if you'd like to attend and whether you'd like to discuss a particular topic or just want the first one to be social, suitability of time and place, etc.


ok. That's a bit of a problem since University Town is so spanking new that it isn't on google maps yet! I'll approximate it.


"All right," you say, "that just seems weird." You pause. "So it's probably something quantum."

Indeed it is.

Don't oriented oscillating E,B fields explain this adequately at the macroscopic level? If you orient a polarizer at an angle theta to the orientation of the E field of the electromagnetic wave (i.e. light), the field gets projected as Ecos(theta) (the component perpendicular to the polarizer gets absorbed) and so the intensity goes as E^2cos^2(theta). That obeys the same mathematics without invoking the quantum magic wand.


I haven't seen meditative practices described much here and I've known first hand how they can help with this level of introspection. So, for those who might wish to try, I'll briefly describe the plain instruction given to zen students. If you want to read in a bit more detail, the thin book "zen in plain English" is an excellent intro.

Sit in a quiet place, with lights dimmed, facing a wall, with your back straight (ex: use a cushion for lower back support). Half-close your eye lids. Adjust your breathing by taking a few deep breaths and then fall back to natural effortless breathing. Count your exhalations. Inhale-1-inhale-2-inhale-3...10 and cycle back to 1. If you lose count in the middle (yes you will) just start again at 1. Try this for at least 5mins. You can go up to 30 mins. That's all!

You can stop reading and try it.

When I began (don't laugh) I barely could count to 3. Here's how it went -

Inhale-1-inhale-2 ... what am I doing? What is this supposed to get me? Never stared at a wall before. Oh drats, back to 1.

Inhale-1-inhale-2... the plaster on the wall looks like a gorgon's face ... wonder what the others are thinking about .... Where was I? .. ok focus. 1..

Inhale-1-inhale-2... Damn is this what the famous sages did day in and day out? ... Oh shit lost it again. Am I that incapable of focusing? .. Ok back to 1

Inhale-1-inhale-2... Wait did I just chastise myself for something so trivial as counting my breath? .. (sigh) back to 1.

(Slowly the noise comes down and you get more real noise.)

Inhale-1-inhale-2 ... should I be taking deep breaths? Was the previous one long enough? ... Ok ok just sit and breathe ... Back to 1 ...

..... and so it goes. Just try it. The "back to 1" breakpoint works like a lens into your thought stream.

PS: apologies for the rough post. Just thought of writing this while on the bus.


Thanks for validating what I do :)

What tipped off my original question was lukeprog's phrase "... now consumes whole fields of knowledge in mere weeks". I don't think I can manage that kind of speed with technical material! Months (without multiplexing) is more like it for me.

My question stands for anybody who has any tips for optimizing the "solve the exercises" method.

lukeprog: Your Anki tip is not in vain though. Still useful. Thanks.


Universities subscribe to these databases. There is a kind of redirection via a proxy that happens when I'm logged in via my univ's network which allows me to download articles as you mention. I do have to agree to a "I declare I won't violate copyrights" button before proceeding.

Its cool to be in school :)


Question to lukeprog: Do you have any efficiency recommendations for more technical subjects? Stuff on the lines of Eliezer's quantum physics sequence (aiming more than that, but at least that much). The thing that weighs on my mind most when dealing with such subjects is testing my own competence ... and so it takes me a considerable about of time.


I must add that I kept both volumes with me under continuous reborrowal from the univ library for an entire year during my undergrad! Sad and glad that nobody else wanted it :)


Subject: Basic mathematical physics

Recommendation: Bamberg and Sternberg's A Course in Mathematics for Students of Physics. (two volumes)

Reason: It is difficult to compare this book with other text books since it is extremely accessible, going all the way from 2D linear algebra to exterior calculus/differential geometry, covering electrodynamics, topology and thermodynamics. There is potential for insights into electrodynamics even compared to Feynman's lectures (which I've slurped) or Griffith's. For ex: treating circuit theory and Maxwell's equations as the same mathematical thing. The treatment of exterior calculus is more accessible than the only other treatment I've read which is in Misner Thorne Wheeler's Gravitation.

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