Wednesday, 27 April 2022


George Bush's invasion in Iraq is, by many measures, already quite a low starting point. But something that was never on the table was the idea the that the USA was going to annex part of Iraq's territory. No, annexing other people's territory is no longer part of the game plan (as for example Y. N. Harari argues). It's something that hasn't happened since WWII. So, then, what is Putin's goal? Is it about ousting a supposedly Nazi (albeit Jewish) regime or is it about annexing Ukraine's territory? Well, it is a question that we don't even have to ask. Russia has already annexed part of Ukraine's territory.


Every country has its grievances. For example, Austria lost Trentino (= Southern Tyrol) after WWII. German's are probably unhappy about giving Alsace and Lorraine to France. The Ireland conflict is obviously still big. And here we are not even talking about all the African countries with their neatly straight lines drawn in French and British boardrooms, not reflecting any natural borders at all. Ever since recorded history, these kinds of conflicts were resolved by war. But, amazingly, no such territorial war has happened since WWII. So, what is at stake with Russia's invasion and attempted annexation of Ukraine? Our whole world structure assured by territorial integrity, putting peace and prosperity before pride and vanity.


In summary, even if all the pictures of bombed apartment buildings are fakes (which there is no reason to believe), even if Zelensky is an oppressive Nazi (which is even more absurd), even if one is unaware of the growing number of refugees, even then there is no way to compare Russia's invasion in Ukraine with the US invasion in Iraq (which is already quite a low starting point). Much more is at stake here.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Covidiots and Covidians

 The world is divided between Covidiots and Covidians. Covidiots, who think it is all overblown (or never a thing in the first place), that all major governments and global organisations got it wrong (and only they got it right), and who could not be swayed by any amount of evidence. Covidians, who would not leave the house without at least two face masks on and want everyone jabbed at least weekly. Obviously, there is a third route, the person who processes all the evidence without preconceived judgements and adjusts their actions according to the most recent data. Can we all say that we are truly in the third camp?

To a large part the divide aligns with the political spectrum (using some general ideas from Michal J. Sandel). Libertarians on the one hand would  say: "I would not force you to wear a face mask even if not doing so were to put me in danger (and hence I am not wearing one myself)." Community focussed people would say: "I would wear a face mask for you even on the off-chance that it provides any benefit at all (and hence I expect you to do so, too)." Both of those are clearly noble sentiments (if phrased like this). But, critically, neither of them actually needs to look at the data to make this judgement. And I think this is the real problem: We have already made up our minds about what is the right course of action. And then we retrofit the data to match our convictions placing us straight into the Covidiot/Covidian camps.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Academic positions at Loughborough

Loughborough University is planning to fill up to three academic positions in the Chemistry Department.

Short summary:

  • High-quality research
  • Ability to teach Physical Chemistry or Biochemistry
  • Closing date: 3rd April 2022

Full information here

This is a great chance for anyone aiming to take their career to the next level. Hiring is at any level. Anyone between ~3 years postdoc experience and full professor can apply.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022


This is just a small blog, not generally devoted to politics. But maybe in a world, where big outlets can be silenced, we need the small voices.

The conflict in Ukraine has to stop. I don't know who is behind this war. Is it just the mania of one man? Is it a well-organised tightly knit group of power-hungry individuals? Is there popular support?

If anyone reads this who is in favour of these attacks, I would ask you to think about the few facts that no one can deny. Russia's leader has been in power for more than two decades, obtaining an ever tighter grip. As a former KGB officer, Putin does not only provide continuity to the Soviet Union, he represents its most feared part. Ukraine was invaded; and even if the pictures from all the bombed apartment blocks do not make it to Russia, there is no denying that a sovereign country was attacked without provocation.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Chemical shielding tensors

How do you visualise a tensor field? A 3x3 tensor as a function of the 3 spatial coordinates makes a 12-dimensonal object. How do we visualise a 12-dimensional object using a 2-dimensional screen? This is the problem we encountered trying to visualise the chemical shielding tensor, which is a common aromaticity criterion. The solution: we compute the principal axes of the tensor and represent those using little dumb-bells at different points in space providing us at least a coarse-grained description.

 To get the full story, check out our preprint “3D Visualisation of chemical shielding tensors to elucidate aromaticity and antiaromaticity” available on ChemRxiv or this blog post.

Here, I just wanted to show a few more computer graphics. This, for example, are the in-plane shielding tensors shown with our new VIST method in connection with the ACID isosurface as computed via GIMIC.

For comparison, the NICS(1) tensors along with the magnetically induced current densities also computed using GIMIC. Diatropic currents, giving rise to positive shielding are shown in blue; paratropic currents in red. Diatropic currents dominate, hence we see positive (blue) shielding.

The code will be released through TheoDORE once I have the time to make it reasonbly well documented and user friendly.