Dec. 5, 2006: Prefer funeral to wedding

An email written on Dec. 5, 2006:

I’ll be back to HK on Dec. 30 until Jan. 10, 2007.  I guess you’ll be
back to US by then ??  I’m typing this email
so that I could delay driving to a small accelerator room to test
something …. 😉


I’ve managed to avoid going to any wedding/wedding banquet all my life.  But I’ve been to my 3rd funeral this morning.  It’s for the son-in-law of our Division Head.  I didn’t think  I’d go (!) but somehow a passionate colleague has persuaded all the physicists in our Division to go …  My last funeral was my Dad’s ~almost 3 years ago and I was the only one who had smile (occassionally) in the funeral.

In fact, I think, if one has to pick between a funeral and a wedding banquet, "funeral"is the better bargain, assuming the person(s) in question is (are) not immediately close to you.  Why ?

(1) One doesn’t really need to pay anything to go to attend a funeral;
(2) The time required is typically shorter ( ~1 hour );
(3) One doesn’t even need to talk to strangers if one doesn’t want to
(~probably the least demanding of any ceremonies).

At least my next door colleague agrees with me 🙂 As remote as my Div. Head’s son-in-law, I have had no feeling at all …
At least a small part of me tells me that perhaps death is the end of one’s suffering or having to find way to waste one’s time; wedding/marriage on the other hand is the beginning of suffering and the bride and groom may not be even aware of it 😉


I’ve gone to see "Deja Vu" in the weekend … At first, you thought it’s a "terrorist killing hundreds of people" story. Denzel Washington would be the smart ATF detective to solve this case …  but after a while, though the US govt. tried to hide (again giving too much credit to the capability of US govt. and their experts — scientists this time !), the "extra dimension" (ie. > 4 in space-time) was involved and the
invisible wormhole connected then and 4.5 days ago.

After one walked out of the theater, attacking the logics of this film didn’t seem to be the thing that one wanted to do.
I’ve found this film to be quite satisfying. It mixed emotion with science/technology.  The process that Denzel discovered
the ability to look into the past was quite interesting.  At the end, it’s emotion which decided the outcome and the
technology was just there handy to help.

One interesting aspect that made me think quite a bit afterwards was that, if the present "you" walked into the past, the
only way to prevent 2 of you from finally appearing at present is to have one of you killed before the present.   So,
perhaps, travelling into the past has to obey certain rules … Just like EM interaction governing the motion of electron or
the gravitational field governing how a satellite rotates around the earth, time travel may have a lot of restrictions/rules.

In the past, when I thought that one day, we’re all "free" to travel to the past, then everybody would just go back to change
whatever they like to maximize their present happiness.  And the present "state" (or the "state" at any time) would keep
changing as everybody is going to the past to change the present ….. But probably, because of those rules, one can’t really
do whatever one wants even if travelling to the past is possible. 

And perhaps, just like, every process is the sum of all Feynman diagrams (which are ~ infinite for any process but just
the higher order terms are all too small to be significant); the present is probably just the sum/integration of everybody’s
effort (travelling to the past or not) in maxizing their present happiness.  Doesn’t it sound like "path integral ?  Because of all
the rules/restrictions (which we don’t know yet), this sum may actually converge/remain finite, rather than diverge to infinity ….
just like QCD and any other (non-abelian) Yang-Mill field theories are all renormalizable ( I like this idea 🙂

In any case, whether the present "you" could go back to the past to alter things, the present is  the outcome of everybody’s effort to
maximize their happiness even though everybody’s maximal happiness is defined differently for everybody and the efforts are often
is ill-fated.

I’m not sure whether you’ll think so much after you watch this film, but I’d recommend which is NOT a sci-fi film.


PS:  By the  way, particle physics is probably the only place (that I know of) that is actively searching for "extra-dimension".  The signature
of extra-dimension is missing energy and missing momentum (because particles go into the extra dimension and disappear from our detectors) … its backgrounds are neutrinos.    It’s been done at Tevetron by both expts. but of course, so far, we’ve found nothing but just keep pushing the limits in energy regime for the extra dimension.


About kinyip

An experimental particle physicist ...
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