Welcome to the meta-blog[1]. The blog about the blog (AKA autoblog). It didn’t take as long as I had thought it would, but yesterday I was told “I read your blog. It was interesting.” This, as far as I am concerned, is a (very early) turning point. Up until now I didn’t know for sure if this was a blog, or just some disorganised ramblings not filed properly on the site, thus giving the impression of date-ordering. I don’t even include the dates (visibly at least; hold your cursor over a heading and the date should appear.) But now I’m faced with the meta-blog, the discussion of what I want from the blog, what you expect from a blog, and what, in fact, is a blog?

The thing is, I don’t know the answers to all of those questions. To be honest, I don’t know what I want from this blog. Only you know what you want from it. As for “What is…”, well I’ll leave that to and to answer (There’s also a great history of weblogs which I recommend). I’ll just keep posting until I get disillusioned and quit. What concerns me more is how I might alter the structure and design of the site as a whole, to let the world see my blog, but leave the locally specific downloads available to UCD users. I’m considering separating into two distinct sections, with the navigation sidebar only covering the section you’re currently viewing. I would add a top navigation bar giving the ability to switch from global to local. The top bar would link to the about page aswell, I think. The problem is that the global section (ie. the blog) will probably significantly outgrow the local section (ie. the downloads) quite quickly. It would seem odd to have a relatively large[4] blog-site with two pages of it treated as an entirely distinct section, particularly as their design (ie. colour and position of navigation bar) would differ quite a bit (that’s the plan, at least).

Another alternative is to have totally separate entry-points to the two. I could keep them in the same space, but not link them at all. I’ll do the two-section re-write anyway, to see what I think is best. It’s not a hugely pressing issue at current size.

[1] There are those who would hold that this is, in fact, only an online journal, not a true weblog (blog). To them I say: “I fart in your general direction”. The word ‘blog’ has some connotations that don’t fit with what I have got here, but I don’t think that invalidates its usage.

[2] Eventually. I’m not quite so detached from reality (or even the unreality of the web) that I would think this site is big yet.

Infinity is Not So Big

I intended to write about Linux today. That is, I had intended that, today, I would write about Linux. Nothing to do with That was because I have ordered Debian from the Linux Emporium. But it hasn’t arrived yet (hopefully it’s sitting at home waiting for me), and I was just now struck by an alternative topic: Infinity. More on Linux when it arrives.

This being my third day back at college after the Christmas break, and my first day of Nuclear Physics (Exph3012), we were given somewhat of a broad introduction to the area (obviously not too elementary, having covered the subject in first year). During a discussion of radioactivity and particle lifetimes, the lecturer referred to the life-time of a proton. Now protons are very stable particles. No-one should be surprised by this, there’s no reason to think otherwise. So we[1]‘re used to the idea that a free proton, ignoring outside influence, will last forever. Forever doesn’t seem too long. Now I’m suddenly given a number for its minimum life-time[2], and it’s huge. “Not less than 1039 years.” That’s 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the age of the Universe. One hundred thousand trillion trillion times. It’s quite an unimaginable time-frame, while “forever” seems quite reasonable. It’s as if the mind (mine, at least; YMMV) tries valiantly to stretch around this vast number, fails, and finally collapses in a confused heap (similar to the state in which it began), while it will happily ignore any mention of “forever”, possibly with the assumption that it misheard.

[1] That is, physicists and other interested parties (nerds). My mother, for example, would be quite unfamiliar with this idea.

[2] We know that the life-time isn’t less than this time. It could well be more. It could, indeed, be infinite.