Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Celebrating the Canadian Veterans.

For personal reasons I'm late with this post but when it comes to celebrate our veterans it is never too late. The entire Canada celebrated 2 weeks ago its veterans. Part of the Year of the Veteran events and 60th anniversary of VE Day, the celebrations culminated with Remembrance Day festivities on Friday November the 11th.

The Ottawa celebrations were special. More than 25 thousands proud Canadians (wearing their Remembrance poppy) gathered in Ottawa to celebrate and meet our veterans. For the first time no First World War veteran was present. There are only 5 around the country and none of them could make it. Most of the young Canadians wanted to meet the veterans and learn from their experience while they are still around us.

Most of veterans came on the Via Rail Remembrance Train similar with troop trains that brought to Halifax Canadian troops from all over Canada. The celebration was the biggest since the end of Second World War proving one more time that Canadians are quite proud of their veterans. For other testimonials check my previous posts on Nov 11 2004 on this page and August 10 on this page.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The EinsteinFest Grand Finale.

Even if EinsteinFest ended 4 weeks ago I remember its grand finale as if it was yesterday. I remember more people pouring into the PI’s Atrium to see the EinsteinFest exhibition. I remember the physicists at work ready to answer in common language any novice question. I remember people curious to learn and experience how and where the jazz music came to life.

I remember the Physica Phantastica tent so full with children that getting a ticket was a challenge. I remember children’s curiosity to explore the world through Einstein’s eyes.

I remember the unsatiable thirst for knowledge of the people eager to embark on the wonderful ship (proven to be not big enough) of ideas exploration.

I remember how I learned where PI researchers are standing compared with their peers: they are indeed at the forefront research that is challenging the current understanding of the universe, the limit of light’s speed, the nature of gravity and time and the fundamentals of quantum computing. I remember the funny informal debates in search for the Next Miracle in physics.

I remember the minutes long, standing ovations of an entire audience grateful for such a well organized festival.

For all these reasons I named the last weekend of Einstenfest the way I felt it, as The EinsteinFest Grand Finale. EinsteinFest continues to reverberate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New York City soundscape.

For different reasons I didn't have the opportunity to visit the center of the world, the fascinating City of New York, even if New York State is Ontario's neighbor. Thanks to Perimeter Institute (PI) I'll have the chance to experience an acoustic taste of the Big Apple. On the evening of Friday November 18th the PI's Atrium will become the quantum teleportation site to experience the soundscape of New York city.

If you were thinking that PI is just a top notch scientific research institution, think again. PI is a place where science, art, music and culture go hand in hand all year around. EinsteinFest was just a snapshot of this harmony. The Event Horizons cultural events are another testimony. I must to confess that PI exceeded my expectations in regards with its involvement into Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) community cultural life.

The City Life opening event of Pushing the Perimeter cultural series will demonstrate how everyday street life sounds become music. I'm quite excited to hear how Steve Reich's pulsating City Life soundscape, Ana Sokolovic’s Géometrie Sentimental and Gavin Briar’s Les Fiançailles will be enhanced in the amazing acoustical environment of PI's 4 storeys glass Atrium.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Waterloo’s Grand Quantum Valley.

It was a month ago, during the EinsteinFest, when the local newspaper The Record published its Annual Technology Spotlight. I was so impacted by EinsteinFest's Big Bang in our community that I missed to write about it. We learn that Waterloo is not only at the forefront research that is part of the end of century effect (as Mike Lazaridis characterized it) but it position itself to be ready to commercialize the breakthroughs in the field.

I learned more about some of the research efforts that are made in Waterloo in the exciting field of quantum computing, during EinsteinFest grand finale. Raymond Laflamme the head of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing (about which I talked in some of my previous posts) was available to anybody for questions (one more proof that Waterloo's academia descends from its ivory tower to illuminate the rest of us). I had the opportunity to talk with him about the Waterloo’s quantum computer. It looks like quantum computing is in a similar state as classical computing was 50 years ago. Big equipment is needed to keep the quantum particles in quantum state during the quantum computation. Breakthroughs are needed to scale down this equipment and keep more particles in quantum states for longer time.

During its EinsteinFest lecture Mike Lazaridis actually charted the philosophy behind the current quantum technology shift. The Waterloo Grand Quantum Valley (as University of Waterloo president David Johnston named it) is ready for the quantum revolution.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Big Bang Entertainment.

Wow…what a lecture! I’m under the weather for the last week with almost no energy and mood for bloging. Simon Singh’s Perimeter Institute (PI) public event lecture on Big Bang woke me up. I have to write about it while it is fresh in my memory.

I enjoy PI public events since I always learn something new and interesting. If you think though that you need intellectual energy to attend these lectures, think again. The Big Bang lecture will prove you wrong. Besides being interesting and informative Simon Singh presentation was fun, invigorating and energizing. It is the most entertaining lecture I’ve ever seen. Almost every 5 minutes Simon Singh made you laugh. He proved that science could be presented in an entertaining way.

For example the Doppler effect, used in explaining the expansion of the universe, was demonstrated live with 2 experiments and the video clip of the Cosmic Doppler Song was shown. Then to demonstrate the role of prejudice in interpreting scientific theories, the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven was played 3 times, but only the first play was the usual one. The second play was in reverse order and the audience was questioned if any lyrics could be understood. The last play was also in reverse order but this time the audience became biased since clues were given on how to interpret the song. Then Simon Singh explained how the subject of a horror movie could give birth to a new theory of the universe, the steady state universe.

Simon Singh spiced his presentation with comments on how Hubble got married, to comments about a grumpy astrophysicist or how a pair of pigeons interfered with cosmic microwaves detection, etc. Considering the scientific evidence of the existence of cosmic microwaves it looks like it was a Big Bang. I’m waiting to see again this funny lecture when it will be broadcasted on the local TV channel by Rogers Television.

Well after such a Big Bang presentation I became healthier and more refreshed than ever.