Built on Facts

Building on ScienceBlogs!

Welcome to the new home of Built on Facts, now happily hosted at ScienceBlogs. For those of you who’ve been readers of this site for a while, I’m honored that you like my scribblings and I hope you enjoy this new location even better!

For those of you who are curious about this new physics site here on ScienceBlogs, you can get a good idea of the flavor of the writing here by perusing the archives at the old site. In short, I usually write about physics in a style that fills the gap between pop-physics writing and actual physics textbooks. In other words, people who know nothing about physics will hopefully enjoy it, and at the same time it won’t bore the physics-knowledgeable.

Why the move? The biggest is that it’s a good opportunity to reach a wider audience than might just come by for a purely physics blog. The second reason is that not only is ScienceBlogs a great community filled with great writers and excellent posts, but Seed Media actually provides us with a modest but nice paycheck depending on our readership. As a grad student, I’m not about to turn that down! And finally, they provide great hosting while their editorial policy allows us to publish as we wish, essentially without censorship or other requirements. I can find absolutely no fault with this fantastic arrangement, and I’m immensely pleased to start writing here.

New posts generally appear every morning, including weekends. I can’t promise the schedule will be absolutely rigidly adhered to, but it’s been a while since I’ve missed a day.

Finally, this site is for you. Feel free to contact me using either of the methods in the contact link at the top of the page, or by using the comments.

Now just so this inaugural post isn’t entirely free of physics content, here’s an awe-inspiring photograph of Werner von Braun in front of the culmination of his legacy: the Saturn V rocket.


UPDATE: The RSS feed now works!


  1. #1 kevin z
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome to the neighborhood!

    I heart big rockets!

  2. #2 Dave Bacon
    August 1, 2008

    Sweet, more physicists!

    “Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.”

  3. #3 Peter
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome, Matt! Go Aggies!

  4. #4 Alex M
    August 1, 2008

    It’s great that you’re at SciBlogs now! Now all of my science is consolidated in one bookmark, hooray.

  5. #5 koszmic
    August 1, 2008

    Wow, I hadn’t seen your blog before, but did check out some of the old posts thanks to the link you provided above. I will definitely be checking in regularly! So far, I find I really enjoy reading evolutioblog, dispatches from the culture wars, good math, bad math, and pharyngula. I have a feeling yours is going add to the list. Thanks!

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    August 1, 2008

    Curse you, Dave Bacon, for stealing my joke!

    Grumble, grumble.

    Anyway, welcome to the party!

  7. #7 Undo
    August 1, 2008

    Hi Matt, and welcome. Nice pic of the Saturn V.

  8. #8 Bob O'H
    August 1, 2008

    I look forward to much cursing of you for interrupting my work with must-read posts.


  9. #9 Chris
    August 1, 2008


    I’m a relatively new reader to this network, but I’m glad to see some physics here (as someone who works mostly in a physics-related area with an EE background).

    I’m looking forward to you writings!

  10. #10 Chris
    August 1, 2008

    Also, the RSS link to your blog points to a nonexistent xml document. http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/index.xml

  11. #11 Brad Feaker
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome Matt..You are hereby added to the daily read!

  12. #12 Qwerty
    August 1, 2008

    I am glad you write for the non-physics reader as I think I got a “D” in high school physics. (Boy, was that a long time ago.)

  13. #13 Peterte
    August 1, 2008

    Pity about the Wernher von Braun picture, he bombed our chip shop. Looking forward to physics though.

  14. #14 Yoo
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome! Your archives seem to indicate that this blog will be a great way to refresh all the physics that I’ve forgotten, and some more! Although the RSS feed isn’t working yet …

  15. #15 Atilio
    August 1, 2008

    “You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.” Borg Drones

    You have been added.

  16. #16 Chris
    August 1, 2008

    Hi, I found you through Phyrangula, read some of your old posts and got really excited. I love your mix of observations and reviews of basic physics topics (and xkcd references).

    Also, your RSS feed isn’t working.

  17. #17 NoAstronomer
    August 1, 2008


    Love the Saturn V booster. The last time I went to Cape Canaveral all I wanted to do was stand under the F-1 engines and just stare at it. Fortunately my kids dragged me around the rest of the exhibit.

  18. #18 Matt
    August 1, 2008

    Thanks for all the kind words! I’ll let the tech guys know about the RSS issue; with a bit of luck it will be corrected later today.

  19. #19 asad
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome. Good to see more physics on scienceblogs rather than all this stamp collecting.

  20. #20 Dahan
    August 1, 2008

    Looking forward to this. Best to ya!

  21. #21 John H.
    August 1, 2008

    They told me to tell you that PZ sent me. I’m with NoAstronomer–the Saturn V is a jaw-dropping piece of hardware.

  22. #22 Ryan
    August 1, 2008

    Looking forward to reading your blog, and BTW, check out mine, “Answers in Genesis BUSTED!”



  23. #23 The Chemist
    August 1, 2008

    I look forward to reading.

  24. #24 nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008


    Pity about the Wernher von Braun picture, he bombed our chip shop. Looking forward to physics though. – Peterte

    ‘”Vuns rockets go up, who cares vere zey come down?
    Zats not my department!”, says Werner von Braun.’

  25. #25 Abby Normal
    August 1, 2008

    You didnt come to science blogs. You actually came back to where you started but were momentarily moving backward in time. .emit ni drawkcab gnivom yliratnemom erew tub detrats uoy erehw pt kcab emac yllautca ouY .sgolb ecneics ot emoc tndid uoY

  26. #26 Claudia
    August 1, 2008

    Abby Normal, you have a typo. But loving the “Young Frankenstein” reference! 😉

    I recently discovered that I quite dig physics, so I shall look forward to some interesting reading.

  27. #27 Chris P
    August 1, 2008

    I don’t think Werner designed the V1. All Werner wanted to do was send a rocket into space. Having read a load of biographies, including “The Rocket Men”, I believe that in general Werner helped Germany lose the war by convincing people to devote too many resources to his project instead of ones that actually delivered explosives at better lb/dollar rate.

    Chris P

  28. #28 Brownian
    August 1, 2008

    Oh noes! A photo of Werner von Braun on the very first post! Proof that science leads to Nazism. Now, if you’ll all join me, let’s pray for a solution to the n-body problem.

    Random Godwins and Poes aside, welcome. Please, help yourself to some crackers.

  29. #29 Wolfgang
    August 1, 2008

    “Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft, and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor”
    –Werner von Braun

  30. #30 cfcasper
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome! Glad to see the physical sciences getting some more attention here. Now, regarding chemistry …

  31. #31 Abby Normal
    August 1, 2008

    Abby Normal, you have a typo.

    Good eye for detail! But I think it’s just a lensing effect from the time reversal that is causing an ‘o’ to be observed as a ‘p’.

  32. #32 Jason Failes
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome aboard!

    Now do a post on the Big Bang theory. The more I study it, the less sense it makes. Your take?

  33. #33 MarkH
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome! I think you are an excellent contribution.

  34. #34 Rarus.vir
    August 1, 2008

    I like that article you posted about the electric car on you old blog, you should repost that here.
    Texas A&M, Is that where David Sosa teaches, (philosophy).

  35. #35 Kobra
    August 1, 2008


    What’s your favorite aspect of physics? Mechanics? Quantum mechanics? etc.

  36. #36 redjellydonut
    August 1, 2008

    Got you bookmarked and look forward to checking in often.

    Hook ’em!

  37. #37 Zuska
    August 1, 2008

    Hah, WvB and physics didn’t build that rocket, engineers did! But I forgive you. Welcome to the Borg, I mean, ScienceBlogs!

  38. #38 Jim Moore
    August 1, 2008

    Good to see another Aggie doing well!! Gig ‘Em !!

  39. #39 RamblinDude
    August 1, 2008

    Good to have you here. I’ve been reading your old posts and having a great time. Looking forward to more.

  40. #40 CCPhysicist
    August 1, 2008


    Before there were aerospace engineers, there were physicists.

  41. #41 Bee
    August 1, 2008


    I will read with interest, gladly adding my tenth of a penny to the empty pockets of a deserving student.

  42. #42 peterte
    August 1, 2008

    Some have harsh words for this man of renown
    But some think our attitude should be one of gratitude
    Like the widows and cripples in old London town
    Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun

    You too may be a big hero
    Once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero
    “In German oder English I know how to count down
    Und I’m learning Chinese,” says Wernher von Braun

  43. #43 Notkieran
    August 1, 2008

    I used that picture while lecturing on gravitation and escape velocity. It’s brilliant.

  44. #44 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 1, 2008

    As the great philosopher Bruce Willis once said, “Welcome to the party, pal!”

  45. #45 WithoutSol
    August 1, 2008


    I look forward to adding your blog to my daily routine. The picture won me over. It reminds me of the indescribable feeling of standing next to the bell of an F-1 engine for the first time.

    Texas A&M … well at least your in Texas (joking, does it really matter anyway?).

  46. #46 Crudely Wrott
    August 1, 2008

    Welcome, Matt! I’ll be stopping by frequently to feed my lust for physics that developed long after I made the fatal error of opting for a chemistry class instead of physics during my senior year in high school. I thought that chemistry would be more “intuitive” and perhaps the math would be simple. I was wrong simply because the chemistry comes out of the physics but I was young and not too bright. If I could only . . .

    @ Abby Normal. You said, “Good eye for detail! But I think it’s just a lensing effect from the time reversal that is causing an ‘o’ to be observed as a ‘p’.”

    Now that is funny! Somewhere, Arthur Dent is nodding his head slowly, in appreciation.

  47. #47 mjfgates
    August 1, 2008

    Possible caption for the photo:

    The first stage of the Saturn V was capable of burning approximately ten thousand times Wernher von Braun’s weight in fuel and oxidizer every minute.

  48. #48 Kendall
    August 1, 2008

    A “Whoop!” for a fellow Aggie physicist. I look forward to what you have to say.

  49. #49 themadlolscientist, FCD
    August 2, 2008

    w000000000t!!!1! One more addition to the ScienceBlogs Collective that’s already close to assimilating my entire life!

    p.s. I noticed several people have said PZ sent them. Chad, his hyperintelligent pooch, and his Bunnies Made of Cheese sent me.

  50. #50 Ian
    August 2, 2008

    You’ve found your niche at last! And thanks for the memory-lane picture of the man who single-handedly freed the Saturn Five…!

  51. #51 Abel Pharmboy
    August 2, 2008

    Welcome, Matt! I don’t know physics but I loved the Saturn V rocket photo.

  52. #52 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    August 2, 2008

    So do we need to be rocket scientists to read the posts?

    [Sorry, you set that up. But welcome to these parts of the blogosphere!]

  53. #53 revere
    August 2, 2008

    Already had a chance to welcome you elsewhere but this is a more public welcome. Always glad to get more physical sciences and math at Sb. Finally decided to teach myself something about Maxwell’s Equations (just for the hell of it). Will you be doing EM?

    I met von Braun when I was a highschool kid and he visited the Science Fair exhibit with my fellow geeks from our “rocket clu.” (I am the geezer at Sb). He was very encouraging (although I later went into medicine). Also worked on a legal case with his daughter, a hydrogeologist — extremely nice person. Anyway, welcome and I look forward to reading you.

  54. #54 ...tom...
    August 3, 2008

    > Abby Normal, you have a typo.

    >> But I think it’s just a lensing effect from the time reversal that is causing an ‘o’ to be observed as a ‘p’.

    I thought it was simply a time-reversal-induced random mutation…

    Welcome Matt. As an ‘outside’ reader I look forward to reading many more posts.


  55. #55 saij
    August 4, 2008

    Good luck on the new site. Science blogging is often found in that middle place between pop-writing and textbook accuracy. It’s a good place to be. Fun, but still true!

  56. #56 Meredith M. Clancy
    August 4, 2008

    Another Aggie on ScienceBlogs! I’m so proud.
    Gig’em and best of luck!

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