Camera Adventures
Back from Spring

Sudden Temporary Architecture of Chaotic Light

I had lots of lovely blogging planned for late last night when the kids were asleep, but our hotel's Wayport internet connection was a bit spotty overnight, so I'm going to rush through a bunch of material that I had planned to address in a more lesiurely fashion.

One fringe benefit of the net connection being down is that since I couldn't keep a good connection, I followed Rudy Rucker's excellent example and went out and did early morning yoga by the pool. I picked my spot next to the whirlpool, since it was a little chilly out. Just as I finished up, the first rays of the rising sun came in through the palm fronds illuminating the rising steam, creating a sudden temporary architecture of chaotic light: vectors of golden light textured by the steam's vortecies. (I couldn't resist using that as a title.) For those at ICFA who would like to try seeing this tomorrow, it happened at about 6:45-6:50 AM.

OK. Quick run through of what I want to cover:

First of all, my dad, John Cramer, has some new physics stuff in the news. I was waiting for a few free moments to carefully write this up so you would think I knew what I was talking about, but this is not to be in the immediate Floridian future, so here is the link:

American Institute of Physics: A Puzzling Signal in RHIC Experiments:

A puzzling signal in RHIC experiments has now been explained by two researchers as evidence for a primordial state of nuclear matter believed to have accompanied a quark-gluon plasma or similarly exotic matter in the early universe. Colliding two beams of gold nuclei at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, physicists have been striving to make the quark-gluon plasma, a primordial soup of matter in which quarks and gluons circulate freely.

However, the collision fireball has been smaller and shorter-lived than expected, according to two RHIC collaborations (STAR and PHENIX) of pions (the lightest form of quark-antiquark pairs) coming out of the fireball. The collaborations employ the Hanbury-Brown-Twiss method, originally used in astronomy to measure the size of stars. In the subatomic equivalent, spatially separated detectors record pairs of pions emerging from the collision to estimate the size of the fireball.

Now an experimentalist and a theorist, both from the University of Washington, John G. Cramer (206-543-9194, and Gerald A. Miller (206-543-2995,, have teamed up for the first time to propose a solution to this puzzle. Reporting independently of the RHIC collaborations, they take into account the fact that the low-energy pions produced inside the fireball act more like waves than classical, billiard-ball-like particles; the pions' relatively long wavelengths tend to overlap with other particles in the crowded fireball environment.

This new quantum-mechanical analysis leads the researchers to conclude that a primordial phenomenon has taken place inside the hot, dense RHIC fireballs. According to Miller and Cramer, the strong force is so powerful that the pions are overcome by the attractive forces exerted by neighboring quarks and anti-quarks. As a result, the pions act as nearly massless particles inside the medium.

Secondly, ICFA Guest of Honor Rudy Rucker has much of the material he's been presenting here up on his web site: His speech from lunch, "Seek the Gnarl" and the PowerPoint slides from his his science talk.

I didn't get to see the luncheon speech, but really enjoyed the science talk. The PowerPoint slides don't give you the full sense of the experience, since they don't include such things as Rudy projecting fractal patterns onto his skin or using a gnarly stick as a pointer. A good time was had by all.

Also, Rudy's blog has great stuff about his recent trip trip to Palau including an interesting discussion of his experiences swimming with jelly fish.

Finally, we have more pictures to put up in my ICFA photo album, but they'll have to wait until later today.