Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Monday, January 24, 2022

Dear Physics Community,

Breaking news – Feds drop charges against Gang Chen!  Letter from LRR and Universal Hub article.

The cold weather is really here, and IAP progresses.  The Globe declares, “Omicorn has peaked in Mass.” Deer Island (Globe article on Biobot founders here) continues to drop, slowing slightly.  The mRNA rate in the wastewater still exceeds that of the peak from a year ago — about double.  More people have COVID-19, but also Omicron generates many more virons per person, one reason for Omicorn’s virulence.  While the numbers seem to improve, I think many of us remain a ways from feeling at all safe.

We all hope the number of cases will ease and allow us more freedom to gather, eat together, and so on.  I make risk trades right now: I won’t go into Simons for a cup of hot chocolate because I want to allocate that risk increment for a trip to the tailor.  For me, this will be the way things remain for a time, and I think I will feel I have more risk to allocate.  I’ll have to recalibrate a lot when the term starts, and we all will spend more time on campus.  I felt different a year ago — the vaccine was on the way, and then everything would be fine.  I’ve learned differently.

After reading this comic (while waiting for Mathematica to do something), I looked up the word charge, as in electrical charge, and I wanted to know the entomology.  The QED defines charge as “A material load; that which can be borne, taken, or received” with the verb form meaning “A material load; that which can be borne, taken, or received,” perhaps related via old French to “cargo.”  Very exciting, making “charge” a gerund.


Above the Fold

  • MIT tries to do a lot more in professional development for students, faculty, and staff.  Human Resources has just announced their classes and trainers for the Spring term.  I try to do one of these a month and find they are generally pretty good. Their Active Listening Workshop is quite helpful.


  • Junior faculty position at Northern Arizona University – here
  • Last call for Alumni Class Funds – proposals due Jan. 28
  • Desphande Grant applications are due Feb. 18.


  • Observation of the X particle at CMS from Yen-Jie Lee and the Heavy Ion Group
  • TESS observes 5,000th exoplanet, all opportunities for new friends