Skip to main content

Cool Science Locales: Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse

In a previous life, you're an electronics engineer who was rushed out to Grenoble, France to visit with ST Microelectronics.  Hopping off the plane in Lyon, you make the quick two hour drive southeast.  Realizing that you smell a bit funky after 8 hours on a plane, you drop into the local H&M, then pop into a pay toilet/changing room and pop out ready to engineer!   Six hours later, you finally emerge and start to look for places to stay, but to your  dismay, everywhere in Grenoble is fully booked.  You pull out your map and notice that there are mountains to the north.  Why not commute to one of the little towns up there?  You pull out the laptop and start calling hotels in each little town up the road until you finally find an available room in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. The room is only $60 a night, the travel folks at the home office should be pleased!  It's dark already when you head out of town on the D512.  You wind your way through narrow mountain roads and finally arrive.  After a small meal at the cafe across the street, you pass out.  You awaken in a darkened room with a sunbeam peaking through closed curtains.  As you pull the curtains back, your greeted by a completely unexpected view.

Unbeknownst to you, you've driven to a gorgeous little town at the northern base of Chamechaude[4], the highest peak in the Chartreuse mountain range north of Grenoble.  Wondering about a bit before breakfast, you find a friendly little hillside town organized around a small square, with a chapel overlooking the whole affair.

Upon returning to ST Micro, you find that you'll have to stay another night, oh, the horror!  After the commute back up the mountain you find that the inn is full.  A short walk up the road nets a new room for a mere $38 at the local construction worker hotel with a clearly labeled attached bar!

Year's later, you'll find an article that helps with your quantum mechanics[1] homework and discover that Grenoble is not only the home ST Microelectronics, but also houses Grenoble Institute of Technology's Institute for Stationery and Graphics home of Dr. Bloch[3] who in addition to working in the latest in touch-screen like paper[2], also writes about fundamental quantum mechanics.

1.  Bloch on quantum wells
Bloch J.F. & Ignatovich V. (2001). A new approach to bound states in potential wells, American Journal of Physics, 69 (11) 1177. DOI:

2.  Bloch on touch-paper
Mazzeo A.D., Kalb W.B., Chan L., Killian M.G., Bloch J.F., Mazzeo B.A. & Whitesides G.M. (2012). Paper-based, capacitive touch pads., Advanced materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), PMID:

3.  More on Dr. Bloch

4.  Chamechaude


Popular posts from this blog

Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

Now available as a Kindle ebook for 99 cents! Get a spiffy ebook, and fund more physics
The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differe…

Division: Distributing the Work

Our unschooling math comes in bits and pieces.  The oldest kid here, seven year-old No. 1 loves math problems, so math moves along pretty fast for her.  Here’s how she arrived at the distributive property recently.  Tldr; it came about only because she needed it.
“Give me a math problem!” No. 1 asked Mom-person.

“OK, what’s 18 divided by 2?  But, you’re going to have to do it as you walk.  You and Dad need to head out.”

And so, No. 1 and I found ourselves headed out on our mini-adventure with a new math problem to discuss.

One looked at the ceiling of the library lost in thought as we walked.  She glanced down at her fingers for a moment.  “Is it six?”

“I don’t know, let’s see,” I hedged.  “What’s two times six?  Is it eighteen?”

One looked at me hopefully heading back into her mental math.

I needed to visit the restroom before we left, so I hurried her calculation along.  “What’s two times five?”

I got a grin, and another look indicating she was thinking about that one.

I flashed eac…

The Javascript Google URL Shortener Client API

I was working with the Google API Javascript Client this week to shorten the URLs of Google static maps generated by my ham radio QSL mapper. The client interface provided by Google is very useful. It took me a while to work through some of the less clear documentation, so I thought I'd add a few notes that would have helped me here. First, you only need to authenticate your application to the url shortener application if you want to track statistics on your shortened urls. If you just want the shortened URL, you don't need to worry about this. The worst part for me was that the smaple code only showed how to get a long url from an already shortened rul. If you follow the doucmentaiotn on the insert method, (the method for getting a shortened url from a long one), there is a reference to a rather nebulous Url resource required argument. It's not at all clear how to create one of these in Javascript. The following example code shows how:
var request = gapi.clie…