Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hideki Matsui Won MVP

The New York Yankees won the 27th World Series title on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. The designated hitter Hideki Matsui (35 years old), drove in six of the Yankee's seven runs in their series-winning victory. He hit .615 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the series, and became the first Japanese-born World Series Most Valuable player. Matui was reported to have said, "Winning the championship is such a great feeling. I guess you can say that this is the best moment of my life right now."

In the summer of 1992, Matsui, as the fourth batter of Seiryo Senior High School team drew five intentional walks in a game at Koshien Stadium. It was the very uncommon strategy of the opposite team not to make him hit home runs and to win cunningly. I watched that game on TV and impressed by Matsui, who did not show any look of embarrassment or angriness and coolly walked to the first base each time. Such a broad mind of Matsui and his continued effort, I believe, has brought him this best moment of his life. I am especially proud of him because I was born in the same prefecture of Ishikawa as he.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize for Words?

President Barack Obama has been chosen to be the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" [1]. The press release of the Norwegian Nobel Committee says, "The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

In the preface of my book just printed (see the previous article at this blog site), I wrote, "For the realization of this [eternal peace all over the world], we should attach importance to the following words, the sources of which you might guess easily." Then I quoted Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan and Obama's Prague speech on nuclear weapons delivered on April 5, 2009.

On hearing the news of the Peace Prize yesterday evening, however, I wondered if the awarding to Obama was too early because there has been no fruit of his words yet. The New York Times reported the news of the Prize under the title "Surprise Nobel for Obama stirs praise and doubts" [2].

Questions about the earliness of awarding Obama was also raised during the Prize announcement. In answer to them, Norwegian Nobel Committee President Thorbjørn Jagland replied that the Committee wanted to demonstrate its support for the approaches Obama is taking towards global problems [3].

Today I got an e-mail message from the not-for-profit global campaigning organization, which requested signing the petition for pressing Obama to turn hope into action [4]. They write, "Only by following through with courageous, transformative action for peace can Obama fulfill his promise – and only then will history judge that this Nobel Peace Prize is truly deserved." I completely agree with them and signed the petition.

  1. The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009, (October 9, 2009).
  2. Surprise Nobel for Obama stirs praise and doubts, New York Times (October 10, 2009).
  3. Time for Hope, Speed Read page for Nobel Peace Prize 2009 (October 9, 2009).
  4. Obama for peace: Turn hope into action

Friday, October 09, 2009

My First Book

The above image shows the cover of my first nonacademic book made at my own expense. In a small number of academic books included in my list of publications, I made partial contributions only. Therefore, this can also be said to be "my" first book." It is entitled "Passage through Spacetime: Random Writings of a Physicist" (Jupiter Corporation, Tokyo, 2009), and is written in English. A friend of mine from Dalian Reizen Elementary School, Takashi Oshio, coordinated the publication for me.

The contents are as follows:
Part I. Hello Mr. Feynman!
 1. What Little I Know about Feynman
 2. We See Feynman Everywhere
Part II. Book Reviews
 Religion and Philosophy
 Life Science
Part III. Vicky: A Novella
 Sorekara and Sanshiro
 Write to You instead of Sam
 Just a "Good-bye"
 The New Year Card
 Stupid Idea?
All the writings contained have been on my Web site for many years, and polishing has been made on this occasion.

The book is not for sale but will be distributed to my friends and acquaintances. Internet friends of mine are welcomed to request a copy by writing their postal address to my e-mail address, which is shown on the top bar of this site.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Consideration of Balancing

The winners of Nobel Prize in Physics 2009 are as follows [1]: Charles K. Kao, Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in Harlow, England, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, for "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication," and Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, both from Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N. J., USA, for "the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit &#; the CCD sensor."

About ten years ago, I learned that the CCD (charge-coupled device) had become an important tool for astronomical observation and even in my own field of radiation measurement, but knew neither the researchers who contributed to the development of this device nor the fact that it revolutionized personal electronics. Also, I have learned about optical fibers but not about the person who was a pioneer in that field. So it is good that we now learn about those persons owing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize to them.

Last year, three Japanese-born physicists, Yoichiro Nambu of the University of Chicago, Makoto Kobayashi of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, and Toshihide Maskawa of Kyoto Sangyo University and the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics at Kyoto University shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical work in particle physics. It is said that their discoveries were much more obscure to the everyday consumer [2]. By contrast, the discoveries of this year's winners were closely related to practical applications to things around us. Here we see the deep consideration of balancing by the Nobel committee for physics.

  1. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2009, (October 6, 2009).
  2. J. Matson, Nobel Prize in Physics Goes to Pioneer in Fiber Optics and Inventors of Digital Image Sensor, (October 6, 2009).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ichiro's Record Based on Daily Care

Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki reached 200 hits for the ninth consecutive season on Sunday, September 13, 2009, with an infield single. Thus he broke the Major League Baseball (MLB) record owned by Willie Keeler since 1901. You can read more about Ichiro's accomplishment at the Web site of MLB [1].

One of Ichiro's teammates Kenji Jojima told a reporter about the secrets of Ichiro's successful batting as follows [2]:

For example, Ichiro's chair at the clubhouse in our home city is a common one made of pipes, though we have comfortable sofas. Ichiro says, "Sitting on a spongy chair for a long time gives me a stress on my waist." . . . As for the pathway from the clubhouse to the baseball ground, Ichiro has his own choice. There are steps and a slope, and he always uses the latter for going up and down. During the four years of my observing him, he has not changed this behavior. Walking on the steps has the possibility of slipping and causing a sprain when one has spike shoes. . . . On coming back to the bench after hitting a home run, Ichiro says to me, "Jo, did my back look like pleased?" I say, "Yes, it did." Hearing this, he says with a bitter smile, "Then I'm not yet good enough." Such a deed with emotion appearing outside the body as running joyfully is a bad thing for him. . . . (Translated from Japanese by the author.)

Ichro's wonderful record is based on such great daily care of his body and mind. I was much more impressed by Jojima's talk than by the news of Ichiro's breaking of the MLB record after 108 years.

  1. "Chasing History: 9 Consecutive Seasons with 200 Hits,"
  2. K. Jojima, "Let's talk on Ichiro (1)," Asahi-shimbun (September 15, 2009).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bolt's New 200-m Record and the Limiting Value

Fitting an exponential function to the data on men's 200 m world record progression.
On August 20, 2009, the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set again a world record of 19.19 seconds in the 200-m sprint at the World Championships held in Berlin, adding to the gold he won in the 100 m.

I have taken the data on men's 200-m world record from Ref. 1, and have tried the least squares fit of an exponential function to the data. The best-fit curve obtained are shown in the above figure together with the data used. The result shows that the limiting value of the record would be 18.81 seconds.

The computation of the fit has also yielded the probable error of plus or minus 0.52 seconds for this value, though the error larger than plus 0.38 seconds cannot actually happen. This indicates that the accuracy of the prediction of the limiting value by such curve fitting is quite poor.

  1. "Men's 200 metres world record progression," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (24 August 2009 at 01:02)
Last revised: August 26, 2009.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hawking Was Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

A ceremony of handing the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U. S. President, Barack Obama, to its recipients was performed on August 12, 2009. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America's highest medal awarded to civilians in the world. In Japan, they broadcast this news on NHK TV, but highlighted only one of the recipients, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow.

Dr. Crow, 95 years old, is the last living Plains Indian war chief, and author of works on Native American history and culture who has served as an inspiration to young Native Americans across the country [1]. Surely, the choice of him is symbolic of Obama's attitude to value the diversity of society. Regrettably, however, I could not learn from the broadcast that Stephen Hawking was also among 16 recipients. I learned it later from other news sources [2, 3].

Hawking is an internationally-recognized theoretical physicist who has a severe physical disability due to motor neuron disease (for more details, see his Web site [4]). In addition to his pioneering academic research in mathematics and physics, his citation [5] refers to the fact that he penned three popular science books, including the bestselling A Brief History of Time. It also mentions about his publication of a children’s science book with his daughter as well as his unlocking new pathways to discovery and inspiring everyday citizens.
  1. K. Brandon, "2009 Medal of Freedom Recipients," The Briefing Room Blog of the White House (July 30, 2009).
  2. H. Johnston, "Hawking hits the headlines in the US…," blog (August 13, 2009).
  3. G. P. Collins, "Stephen Hawking receives Presidential Medal of Freedom," scientificamerican blog (August 14, 2009).
  4. "Professor Stephen Hawking."
  5. "President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients: 16 Agents of Change to Receive Top Civilian Honor," The Briefing Room of the White House (July 30, 2009).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bolt's World Record Changes Empirical Prediction Again

World record progression for men's 100 m. Data, from Ref. 1; dotted line, least-squares fit of exponential function to data through 2005; red line, fit to data through 2008; and purple line, fit to data through 2009. (You can see the real size image by clicking on the image).
Until the year of 2005, the plot of the world record for men's 100 m sprint as a function of year allowed a good fit by an exponential function with an additive constant, value of which meant the possible limiting value of the record. The data through 2005 gave the limiting value of 9.66 seconds. The data through 2008, however, predicted an improved limiting value of 9.43 seconds owing much to Usain Bolt's record, in the Beijing Olympic Games, of 9.69 seconds, which was one of outliers with respect to the fitted curve (Ref. 2).

Now his record of 9.58 seconds in Berlin on August 16, 2009, again changed the limiting value down to 9.09 seconds (with errors of plus or minus 0.49 seconds). When a single new record affects the possible limiting value this much, it would mean the following two facts: (1) The application of exponential fitting to data on men's 100 m sprint is completely inadequate. (2) Bolt's running ability is extraordinarily and exceptionally wonderful.

Notes added later:

Originally the title of this article was "Bolt's World Record Changes Statistical Prediction Again," but I replaced the word "Statistical" by "Empirical." The reason is this: The method used is often called statistical, but I think it better to be called empirical. Further, I'm not a statistician but a maker of empirical formulas.

A related blog article appeared: Michael Banks, Bolt out of the blue, physicsworld. com (August 17, 2009).

Read also Bolt's New 200-m Record and the Limiting Value.

  1. "World record progression 100 metres men," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (18 August 2009 at 00:44).
  2. "World Records for Men's 100 m Defy Simple Curve Fitting (2)" Femto-Essays (September 14, 2008).

Last revised: August 24, 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cartoon-Like Pictures in Particle Physics

The Web site of American Physical Society has the pages entitled Physical Review Focus, on which selections from the journals Physical Review and Physical Review Letters are explained for students and researchers in all fields of physics. Besides such selections, the pages also carry "Landmarks," which introduce important papers from the archives of Physical Review.

A recent article [1] of Physical Review Focus treated Richard Feynman's paper in 1949 [2]. In this paper Feynman used for the first time cartoon-like pictures (examples can be seen in [1]; explanations are given in [3]) of straight and wiggly lines representing real and virtual particles interacting each other ("virtual particles" appear in intermediate, unobservable, stages of a process, and work as the mediators of the forces of interactions). The pictures enabled him to obtain easy answers to difficult problems in quantum electrodynamics. Then these so-called Feynman diagrams quickly became an essential tool for particle physicists, and Feynman shared the Nobel Prize with Sin'itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger in 1965 (the independent work by the latter two physicists were published in [4] and [5]).

Generally, visualizing the images of new concepts often helps one understand those concepts quickly. Feynman diagrams, which translate the essence of complicated mathematical expressions into simple pictures, are therefore a good and indispensable device in studying the mystery of the deep physics in the microscopic world.

  1. Landmarks: Powerful Pictures, Physical Review Focus Vol. 24, Story 3 (July 20, 2009).
  2. R. P. Feynman, "Space-Time Approach to Quantum Electrodynamics," Phys. Rev. Vol. 76, p. 769 (1949).
  3. Feynman Diagrams Virtual Visitor Center, SLAC, Stanford University.
  4. S. Tomonaga and J. R. Oppenheimer, "On Infinite Field Reactions in Quantum Field Theory," Phys. Rev. Vol. 74, p. 224 (1948).
  5. J. Schwinger, "Quantum Electrodynamics. I. A Covariant Formulation," Phys. Rev. Vol. 74, p. 1439 (1948).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Feynman's Lectures on Microsoft Web Site

An article [1] of has reported that Bill Gates has bought the rights to seven lectures by the late Richard Feynman, which were filmed by the BBC in 1964 — a year before Feynman shared the Nobel Prize in Physics [with Sin'itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger] — and that you can watch them for free at [2]. All we need to do is download and install a bit of software from Microsoft, which takes us a minute or two.

Feynman presented these lectures as the Messenger Lectures at Cornell University in the United States. Titles of them are
  1. The Law of Gravitation, an example of Physical Law
  2. The Relation of Mathematics to Physics
  3. The Great Conservation Principles
  4. Symmetry in Physical Law
  5. The Distinction of Past and Future
  6. Probability and Uncertainty the Quantum Mechanical Law of Nature
  7. Seeking New Laws
Under the movie we can read Feynman's words, so that non-native speakers of English who are unaccustomed to listening lectures in English can well enjoy these lectures. The Messenger Series of lectures is also available as a book [3]. In the foreword of the book, we read, to our astonishment, that Feynman delivered these lectures not from a prepared manuscript but extempore from a few notes.

  1. H. Johnston, Watch Richard Feynman’s lectures for free, blog (July 17, 2009).
  3. R. Feynman, The Character of Physical Law (Penguin, 2007).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Recent Visitors by Country

Each of three blog sites of mine at (two in English and one in Japanese) has a counter provided by At the site of, we can see the country share of the latest 99 visitors to each of our own site. The numbers I saw today for my blog sites written in English are as follows (Japan has been excluded from the list, because a considerable number of my own visits for check and correction purposes are included):

"Surely You're Joking" site (Visitors No. 3254–No. 3352)

1United States34%
2United Kingdom5%
3Costa Rica3%
Countries at the 1% level are Canada, Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

"Femto-Essays" site (Visitors No. 7366–No. 7364)

1United States25%
5United Kingdom3%
Countries at the 1% level are Bangladesh, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Singapore and Ukraine.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Got an E-mail Message about Kazumi

Last Friday I got an e-mail message about Kazumi from one of his ex-student, Lian Chen. I quote it below by his permission.

Dear Prof. Tabata:

Thanks a lot for your writing about Prof. Kazumi Maki. I was a Ph. D student with Prof. Maki in period 1985-1989. During his sabbatical year 1986–-1987 I went to Max-Planck Institute in Stuttgart Germany. I know Prof. Maki won the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt senior scientists award for his stay at that year in Germany. They also bought a grand piano at the end of his sabbatical and shipped back to US. Both Prof. Maki and Masako were very nice to us as a student at the time. I'm sad that Kazumi has past.

Sincerely yours,
Liang Chen
Department of Physics
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1N6N5

I suppose that the grand piano mentioned by Liang must have been a gift from Kazumi to Masako on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of their wedding. I have never sent such a great gift to my wife!