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Fred Sansoz's picture

PhD Position in Nanomaterials Science at the University of Vermont

An excellent student with research expertise and interest in molecular dynamics simulation and theory of mechanical and/or thermal transport properties in nanomaterials such as nanowires, bulk nanotwinned metals and graphene, is sought to fill a new PhD opening in my group starting in Fall 2012. Interested students should send me a detailed CV with a description of past research achievements and the names of references to frederic.sansoz@uvm.edu.

Idle thoughts on the role of theory in mechanics

As scientists, we like to think our theories are built on a large body of directly observed phenomena, but we can directly observe only a few, primitive things, like the relative position of two objects -- and even that is called into question by modern physics! Instruments that measure abstract quantities like force and temperature depend on the validity of an underlying theory. For example, a scale provides a useful measurement of weight only if we accept a certain definition of weight. Such definitions are objectively arbitrary, because they can only be ranked in terms of usefulness.

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