Category: Faculty Life

  • Last Lectures at SMU: Alien Life and the Probability of Life

    Last Lectures at SMU: Alien Life and the Probability of Life

    When I delivered Parts 1 and 2 of the last lecture of Physics 1303 (Introduction to Mechanics) on May 2 and 3, 2022, I had an inkling that these might be my last ever lectures to SMU undergraduates. I prepared them with joy and love and care. It was emotionally wrenching for me to deliver […]

  • Getting back into the swing …

    Getting back into the swing …

    It’s been a week of “getting back into the swing” before the spring semester. Most of my effort is focused on mapping my Tuesday/Thursday introductory physics course into a 3-day model (Monday/Wednesday/Friday). The mapping of lecture material (reading and lecture videos) into Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) “assignments” is complete. My course completely follows the […]

  • First work day of 2022

    First work day of 2022

    Today was the first day “back at work” for 2022. I put “back at work” in quotes because I was working, but I did not go into the office. There is no need. Right now, we are still between terms. It’s not like the hallways of my building are teeming with colleagues, and those who […]

  • Muon Weather and Seasons

    Muon Weather and Seasons

    Over the winter break, I have picked up my little muon detector data side project that started in the spring term of 2020. A few days ago, I remarked on how I wanted to take account of “weather” in the data – variations around a daily expectation given seasonal conditions – and “seasons” – long-term […]

  • Muon Weather: Fun with a Muon Detector, Analysis Code, and Physics

    Muon Weather: Fun with a Muon Detector, Analysis Code, and Physics

    I am spending some time playing around with the cosmic ray muon data from an instrument in the SMU Physics Department. That instrument is located in the basement hallway of Fondren Science Building. I already setup a “dashboard” of information derived from the instrument, available here: If you want to learn more about the […]

  • The Equation

    The Equation

    Colleges and universities across the United States are planning to re-open in the fall with large numbers of students on-campus. Some places have done this sensibly, by limiting that number to just first-year students, or just seniors, and only for one term or another. Others have proceeded with full populations on campus, in the same […]

  • A Journey Closer to the Hot Zone (C+66)

    “Don’t forget your mask.” I haven’t been in a place where people are actually expected to gather since March 6. I have so much to remember as I re-enter the world. I have to remember to get all my keys. Where are all my keys? My car keys are on my dresser. One of my […]

  • The spice must flow

    The spice must flow

    As I wrote several days ago, Zoom has become highly unstable on my desktop computer. I’ve tried everything, including switching from the KDE desktop environment to the XFWM one; switching off compositing; using all different versions of the NVIDIA drivers; swapping other NVIDIA cards into the system; different kinds of LINUX kernels. Nothing helps. So […]

  • Fall down, go Vroom

    Like many institutions, I’m using a video conferencing client whose name rhymes with “Vroom” in order to conduct classes. Things were going great for the first 2 weeks. Last Friday, things took a serious turn. It all started with a long-standing problem on my home desktop machine. I run Ubuntu Linux 18.04 on a hand-built […]

  • Virtual Social Anti-Distancing

    Virtual Social Anti-Distancing

    I love surprises. I love them more when I know about them but get to share in surprising someone else. It was a real win when I was asked if it was okay for SMU President, Gerald Turner, to drop in on my digital classroom to chat with students. The SMU President is iconic for […]