Monday, November 16, 2009

Physics Groupie Down Under

Remember his name, Mike Hewson. No, he’s probably not a Nobel Laureate, or someone who will find the correct theory of quantum gravity. What is known for certain about Mike is that he’s a Physics Groupie just like yours truly – and there’s not too many of us around!

I found Mike on the Science forum over at Einstein@Home where he is the forum moderator. This is where folks from around the world who are gravitational wave enthusiasts can discuss the science behind the LIGO project. Mike is prolific with his posts on the forum and I greatly look forward to reading all that he has to say.

Mike is from Australia and I don’t know anything else about him other than he does an annual pre-Christmas book buy for physics books before the holiday rush, which is something I can very much identify with. Mike just bought a couple of excellent titles, the MTW classic “Gravitation,” and “Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity,” by Sean Carroll.

I asked Mike to do an interview for this essay, but he did not respond. I can only assume he prefers to keep his interaction with the physics community confined to online forums. I can respect that. Since I don’t have any other information about Mike, I’ll treat this expose as a scientific experiment. I’ll make some hypotheses and see how close they come up to reality after future experimental evidence surfaces.

My hypothesis is that Mike is an educator, probably a high school physics teacher. I think this because of the level of detail he puts into his forum posts, often complete with references, diagrams, formulae, examples, etc. As a teacher myself, I believe I can recognize someone who seeks pedagogical purpose in his life. I’m sure he has a family and does his research and online participation after the kids go to sleep and the night is still with inquiry. And I’ll just bet he’s also an amateur astronomer taking advantage of those wonderful southern hemisphere skies.

Mike continues to be an enigma to me and I look forward to interacting with him in the future about physics in general and LIGO in particular. Mike is a great person to know and he’s a very helpful resource, plus knowing another physics groupie is certainly satisfying. I look forward to learning more about Mike personally so I can post an update here to see how accurate my hypotheses turn out to be. Of course I could be way off base. Experimental evidence can turn theories completely upside down.

5 comments:

  1. Pretty nice, I really liked Mike's notes on the forum. I can learn about this subject that I know nothing about. Thx.

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  2. Hey Daniel, so did you aver find out if Mike is a teacher? I amcurious too. He is a great guy who likes to have others understand scienc.e

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  3. i've been reading Mike's posts on the Einstein site, and u r right, he's great. I learned a lot from him.

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  4. So did you ever find out anything more about Mike? I'm curous if you were right? I'l bet he is an astronomer by trade.

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  5. S'pose I can put your questions to rest. I am a doctor, the medical kind, looking after my local community in the old fashioned traditional way. My physics background relates to a late 1970's science degree prior to entering medical school. The teaching aspect is really how I communicate to my patients over the years - helping them understand where they are at health wise. Einstein @ Home is a hobby for me, a nice distraction from the glummer side of my job actually, and has been an utter pleasure to meet and greet people from all over the world. Not to forget that E@H is a stunning project to be involved in at any level.

    I hadn't been avoiding Dan - it was just real life interrupting my online presence.

    As for Meisner/Thorne/Wheeler it is a cracking good read! :-)

    Cheers, Mike.

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