The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Catching Up

It’s been a while since I last put pen to paper and placed some thoughts in this blog. As is typical with most things at the bottom of the list, this gets shelved when I have more important things to do. These past few weeks have been full of such things, among them a new path for my research and a visit by family.

I’ve started working most of my time now on the study of the B meson using the rare decay B → Xsgamma. The photon spectrum tells us about the rattling of the bottom quark inside the meson, and in turn this teaches us about the laws governing its motion. My former project, to search for invisible decays of the Upsilon, is on hold again until BaBar’s data is reprocessed with new tools that will make that search more sensible. I expect that to turn around by Christmas.

That said, I’ve been spending my days on this rare decay. I’m working with two students, which is nice (working alone on the invisible decays was taking its toll). We’re gearing up to do a “toy” analysis on purely simulated data, as a means to benchmarking not only the tools we’ve developed but also to teach us how to do this analysis once, all the way through, in a controlled environment.

This past weekend, my wife’s sister and her sister’s husband joined us here in California for a week visit. We’ve already hit Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, and wine country. In addition, we walked over the “Golden Gate Bridge”: and visited the Winchester Mansion in San Jose. This mansion, constructed by Sarah Winchester after the death of her first and only child and the loss of her husband to tuberculosis, is a confusing maze of finished and half-finished rooms, staircases that go nowhere, doors that open onto sheer drops, and other oddities. She built this legendary house over the course of 38 years, allegedly to confuse the spirits of those men killed by her husbands Winchester guns. It’s a remarkable structure, with beautiful artwork scattered in a million architectural details (all of Mrs. Winchester’s own devising), but also a lesson in how to lose your guests by sending them to the bathroom.

I’ve been keeping a lazy eye on Dover. The NCSE has been doing a great job of posting briefs on the trial, along with transcripts. There has also been a “tremendously thorough legal brief put together”: which explains the history and the Constitutional failures of “intelligent design”. I would hope that among these, the most prominent is the simple violation of terminology when forcing non-scientific metaphysics into the science classroom.