Stefans Abenteuer im Land der fehlenden Berge und in der Physik
Über mich
StefanIch bin seit Juni 2007 Doktorand an der TU Delft, Niederlande. Neben (theoretischer) Physik interessiere ich mich für Politik, Bücher aller Art und Radfahren. Für weiteres, siehe meine Homepage.

Montag, 8. September 2008

Das Jahrbuch, eine unendliche Geschichte

Vor einigen Wochen ist bei uns eine E-Mail eingetrudelt, dass die Leute von der Fachschaft Physik einen Beitrag für ihr Jahrbuch von uns Theoretikern wollen. Und das alles bitte zum Thema "Einheiten" und irgendwie sollte es auch noch einen Bezug zu unserer Arbeitsgruppe haben. WTF, ich und Einheiten? Was haben die mit mir zu tun? Streng genommen gar nix. So machte sich dann Ratlosigkeit breit und wir beschlossen, die E-Mail einfach zu ignorieren. Dummerweise hat das nicht wirklich funktioniert, denn die Leute von der Fachschaft haben uns weiterhin mit Emails bombardiert. Nun, schlussendlich blieb die Sache durch das Eliminationsprinzip (Urlaub, Ausreden...) an mir und an Chris hängen. Nun, um eine lange Geschichte kurz zu machen, das ist unser Ergebnis:


Writing something linking the theme for this yearbook of ``eenheid," which is to say unit (or tongue-in-cheek: unity), with the theory group is quite a task, as we found out on doing some brainstorming. The reason being that we theorists typically can't really agree on a common standpoint on questions arising from units. For example, some prefer to use a unit system where both hbar and k_B, i.e. Planck's and Boltzmann's constant, are both equal to one, as it makes formulas less cluttered. Others, in turn, prefer to retain these constants, as it makes their thinking clearer, while still others can't really decide and sometimes set hbar, k_B to one and sometimes not. But essentially, let's be honest: it's all a matter of taste, and so one finds among the twenty--or--so members of the theory group at least twenty--or--so opinions on the pro's and con's of using some system of units or other.

So are we then just a bunch of people who can't agree on anything? The answer is of course: No. We agree, first and foremost, that exploring new fields and uncovering the fundamental laws of nature is a deeply interesting thing to spend time doing. Now for the non--physicist visiting us this might not seem so exciting, as all he will see is people staring at screens or scribbling formulas on scrap paper. Perhaps sadly, no interesting or confusing--looking experimental setups or the like can be found in our offices. Yet, the most exciting thing for us is happening constantly: seeing that all the assumptions and calculations we've made add up to an explanation of an effect observed in experiments, or better yet, one not--yet--observed, but certain to be.

Now, apart from this work, we all enjoy the daily coffee breaks, where the latest news, trivia or the peculiarities of our home countries are discussed in as much detail as a good derivation... But diverse as the group is, with people coming from a half a dozen or so countries and backgrounds, we often find that the only conclusion we can agree on, is that we certainly do not agree. And that of course, brings us full circle back to whether it is better to set $\hbar$ equal to one or not.