How English became the language of science

October 13th, 2014
English today is the main language of science across the globe. It has not always been like that, a mixture of English, French and German in about equal proportions was the norm in the 19th century. Before that Latin was the language used across western Europe; from the late medieval period to the mid-17th Century.

It may be no surprise that German was cast out as a common scientific language after the first world war. It is not that English rose to the top of the pile, but rather than German was cut down. Then after the second world war the United States of America became a leading scientific power and that for sure influenced the choice of international language.

Almost of today’s scientific discoveries will be published in English. Moreover, English seems to be the language that scientists who do not share a common mother tongue will use. For example, here in Warsaw international visitors will tend to use English when conversing with Polish researchers.

You can find out more details about the rise on English via the link below.

Nobel Prize: How English beat German as language of science BBC News Magazine

How to avoid writers block

October 11th, 2014
Caravaggio, 1605-1606. I don’t find it at all easy to write papers or lectures notes, even if the hard work of getting all the material together has been done. To help with the procrastination I may try out the ideas of the writers linked to below.

I am not sure exactly how my fellow mathematicians sharing the office will react though…

7 Famous Writers That Worked In The Nude

Polish foods you must try

October 11th, 2014

Here is my list of Polish food that I have enjoyed in Warsaw. In no particular order



Polish blood sausage made with pig’s blood and buckwheat. It is like a cross between a haggis and a black pudding. It can be boiled, grilled or fried. Very delicious, I had one from a BBQ recently.

Biała kiełbasa


The domestic or common white sausage. To be found in every food shop in Poland. Best grilled or fired. The meat filling is more coarse than the typical British banger and contains cubes of fat. May not be the best for your waist, but you will enjoy it.

Ogórek kiszony/kwaszony


There are (at least) two kinds of dill pickles in Poland. Ogórek kiszony are pickles preserved in wooden barrels. They are a little salty and the taste can change as they mature. I like the mature ones that have started to lose their colour. Very very popular in Poland.

The second kind ogórek konserwowy is preserved in vinegar. Also very good and nothing like the British gherkins that are far too sour.



The word mean cabbage, though it commonly will refer to the Polish version of sauerkraut. It has a distinctive sour taste and does very well with any of the above. Generally I would say that it is more palatable that the German versions and that you should seek it out in the Polish section of the supermarket.

Sznycel (Kotlet Mielony)


This is a flattened cutlet of port that is breaded and then fried. Very delicious and goes great with fries for lunch. They do a great sznycel in a restaurant near my flat.

Kaczka Pieczona z Jabłkami


Roast duck with apples, it can also be served with a beetroot mash and a red berry sauce. This is my wife’s favourite. You really have to try this in a restaurant in Warsaw, I insist.

Befsztyk tatarski


Polish style stake tartare, not to everyone’s taste, but here in Warsaw it is popular. It should be served with finely chopped ogórek, chopped preserved mushrooms and onions. Often it will also come with a small piece of fish to mix in and a drop of olive oil. I also like to add a little Maggi seasoning sauce to mine. I recommend it and you can buy packs of the tartare in the supermarkets in Poland to enjoy at home. That said, it is great for a starter in the restaurants here.



Polish hunter’s stew, made with kapusta, various cuts of meat and sausages, mushrooms and dried plums. Very good and should be eaten if you get the chance. However, avoid the ready made versions in jars that you can find today. It is best eaten in a small restaurant in Warsaw.

That is just a flavour of the great food you can get in Poland. Maybe I should look at Polish deserts next week…

I’m blue da ba dee da ba die…

October 7th, 2014
The 2014 Nobel prize in physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for the development of blue LEDs.

This year’s Nobel Laureates are rewarded for having invented a new energy-efficient and environment-friendly light source – the blue light-emitting diode (LED). In the spirit of Alfred Nobel the Prize rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind; using blue LEDs, white light can be created in a new way. With the advent of LED lamps we now have more long-lasting and more efficient alternatives to older light sources.

“The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics – Press Release”. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 7 Oct 2014.

Nobel prize in physics 2014

Maths and Physics school on boating

October 6th, 2014
The Bałtycki Instytut Matematyki is organising a “Math & Physics & Sailing Camp”, where the participants can learn about mathematics, physics and sailing.

The camp will be in near the city of Tricity, Poland, which is situated on Gdańsk Bay. The planned start date is 1st May 2015. Keep an eye on the webpage for further details.

Math & Physics & Sailing Camp

Mathematical Physics IOP booklet

October 4th, 2014
The Institute of Physics (IOP) has written a report that examines the relationship between mathematics and physics.

There is no completely agreed upon definition of mathematical physics, which is closer to mathematics that physics in most respects. The IOP report puts it like this;

Mathematical physics is best described as consisting of two parts: physical research that proceeds primarily through mathematical means and areas of mathematics that work to solve the problems posed by physics.

The Journal of Mathematical Physics define mathematical physics as;

…the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories.

The IOP booklet looks at a wide range of topics in mathematical physics from quantum mechanics, gravity & black holes, random matrix theory, solitons and topological insulators.

Mathematical Physics: What is it and why do we need it?

Ever wondered how to calculate a given number?

October 2nd, 2014
How you ever wondered what is special about your favourite number? As we all know, the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is $latex 42 = 2100/50 \approx sin(\pi 3/26)-sin(\pi 11/39)$ and can also be approximated very well by many other expressions.

By using the The Inverse Symbolic Calculator (ISC) you can take numerology to another level by finding closed expressions that well approximate the number (any truncated decimal) you think has some special meaning. It used a mixture of lookup tables and integer relation algorithms. The tables were first compiled by S. Plouffe.

Whatever you do please have some fun with it.

The Inverse Symbolic Calculator
Simon Plouffe homepage

Weighted algebroids: theory and outlook for applications

September 25th, 2014
I will be giving a talk at the “Seminarium Geometryczne” here in Warsaw on the first of October. The talk will be based my the recent work (arXiv:1409.0439 [math-ph]) with J. Grabowski and K. Grabowska.

In this talk I will outline the theory of the recently discovered weighted Lie algebroids, which should be considered as a higher version of a Lie algebroid. We will then suggest how such structures can be employed in higher order Lagrangian mechanics. This is joint work with K. Grabowska and J. Grabowski.

Anyone who is interested is welcome to come along.

Metody Geometryczne Fizyki

‘Banana skins are slippery’, say Japanese physicists

September 21st, 2014
Banana Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai have won the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize in physics for their paper on measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor [1].

Bananas are my second favourite fruit, just behind Polish apples, so it is nice to see them feature in world-class physics research. More than that, slipping on a banana skip is the pinnacle of slapsick comedy and deserves more scientific attention.

[1] Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin, Tribology Online 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 147-151. (Available online here)

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Nuclear theory research in the UK to be exanded

September 20th, 2014
Flag A new nuclear theory group is going to be set up at the University of York. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will make a special funding award to set up the group and will provide funding to appoint a nuclear physics theory chair and PhD studentships. Furthermore, the university of York will fund a nuclear physics theory lectureship.

The need to expand the UK’s capability in theoretical nuclear physics was part of the Institute of Physics review in October 2012. For sure, although the UK has some good researchers in this field, the numbers of people in theoretical nuclear physics is small. One number that has been suggestion is that there are about seven permanent researchers in the UK working on theoretical nuclear physics.

The establishment of a new group must be welcome news for the UK nuclear physics community.

Gap in nuclear physics research identified by IOP is to be filled.