Greetings from Palmia Observatory,
Well here we are hoping for some clear weather to make more of our Saturn-Titan orbit measurements, but the clouds are everywhere wo we can report on some latest findings about COVID-19 at home, rapid testing, some upcoming astronomy and physics meetings and some discussion about infinities in classical electromagnetism.
So, in keeping with my friend, Tom's image of Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, as seen in Wisconsin, here is my amazing image of Saturn on December 28. The forecast for the 29th is a bit better.
|Amazing image of (possibly) Saturn, DSLR, 150mm, 1/2 second (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
In response to a question from Science Nerd and onetime Theatre Impresario, Scott, I looked up the possibility of getting one of the low cost, at home, rapid COVID-19 tests that we discussed in the last post of Dec 27, 2020. Well, it just happens that the Abbott at home test received emergency use authorization on Dec 20, so I had to look up the details. The test kit costs $25 and you can do the test at home, but only under the supervision and inspection of a proctor, who will be witnessing and guiding the test on your webcam. Hmm, it sounds more like Big Brother watching than the low cost version we were hoping for. There are competing interests between the individual just wanting to evaluate their own health and the public control of the pandemic. Anyway, here is the screenshot from my iPhone that describes how the test will be conducted after you affirm you are who you say you are and scan your drivers license. The good news about this smartphone app is that if you test negative, you get sort of a "digital passport" that you are not contagious as of the date of the test. Thanks for the question, Scott!
|Requirements for the at home Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test (Source: NAVICA app screenshot)|
So, since the weather is not cooperating for nighttime observing, we will finish off this post with a partial calendar for upcoming AAS and APS meetings in the new year and with some comments about the infinities in classical electromagnetism.
The next meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is happening, online, from January 10 - 15, 2021. So be sure to check out the details and sign up. The meeting is for professional astronomers, but even astronomer wannabes can find plenty of interesting presentations. The details about the nature of the online meeting can be found at: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237. Remember if you meet the qualifications to be an amateur astronomer, you can get in for a reduced fee.
|Don't miss the AAS 237th (online) meeting, Jan 10-15 (Source: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237)|
There are two upcoming meetings of the American Physical Society that may be of interest to all of the physicist wannabes out there. The first meeting, "The March Meeting" is conducted online on March 15 - 19, 2021. This meeting primarily covers condensed matter physics. You can check out the details and sign up at: https://march.aps.org/
The second main APS Meeting is "The April Meeting" is conducted, online, on April 17 - 20, 2021. This meeting is primary for those interested in astrophysics, general relativity, and cosmology. You can check out the details and sign up at: https://april.aps.org/
|Don't miss the APS April (online) meeting, Apr 17-20 (Source: https://april.aps.org/)|
Ok, finally back to the discussion about infinities that come up in the study of physics. Visionary Physicist, Dr. Don, was reviewing the nature of inertia and asked me to look at chapter 28 of Feynman's "Lectures on Physics." All physicist wannabes will have these volumes at the ready.
|Feynman's classic red book series (Source: R. Feynman, "Lectures on Physics)|
My interest in our discussion was how even in calculations involving classical electromagnetism result in infinity. This is not good because it means that something has broken down. Consider this example for calculating the energy of the electric field around a charged particle. The main point to keep in mind is that the energy goes up as the reciprocal of the radius, which goes to infinity as the radius approaches zero, which is what is assumed for the notion of a point.
|Calculating the energy around a point charge (Source: Feynman, "Lectures on Physics")|
To get around these infinities, one approach is to not include point charges and to consider the electron, for example, as a wave or a field. In quantum field theory this approach has been very fruitful in getting rid of the infinities and make progress with a better way of understanding nature.
This approach going from classical descriptions to quantum field descriptions of nature is covered very well in this textbook. This is one of the first textbooks that I found that explained the original problem and then went into how the introduction of fields and other concepts led to a solution of the problem.
|Great review of the transition from classical to quantum fields|
But the solution to the initial problem requires us to study more deeply about the quantum path integral approach under the general topic of "the theory of renormalization." Hmm, this sounds like it is going to be hard because the snippet of text below says you have to first of all work through all the material in chapters 4 through 15 just to get up to chapter 16 where the renormalization theory is presented. Ok, ok, the life of the physicist wannabe is just one chapter after another. Thanks for the insight, Don!
|Removing the infinity (Source: Baulieu, Iliopoulos & Seneor "From Classical to Quantum Fields")|
So, that is it for what probably is the last post of 2020, unless the clouds go away. This turns out to be the 471st post on the blogging journey. What a year this has been. Now we end this year with hope of better things to come. Happy new year everyone!
Until next time, here from our burrow, stay safe, as we recover more of our freedom,