News from around the world of physics:
Near and dear to my heart is any clever experiment involving lasers. And via Swans on Tea, this one’s a doozy. It’s paddleball, but instead of a rubber ball you have a single atom. And instead of a paddle you have a beam of laser pulses. No string, so it’s an extra challenge. Of all the esoteric ways people have devised to measure g, I think this one is the best.
Over at Uncertain Principles, Chad discusses science writing. Lots of it isn’t very good, but he gives some excellent examples of the cream of the crop. Very, very far down my list of things to do eventually is write a book. I think Chad’s advice is very good – stick to the science, and don’t get too carried away with narrative. Sure Einstein had an interesting life, but aren’t the amazing things he discovered the reason we care about his life in the first place?
For the mathematically inclined, Arcsecond has a great three part (so far!) series about complex exponentiation without reference to calculus. He’s a brave guy, and he’s approaching it in a number of clever ways. It’s by approaching old problems from new perspectives that a lot of advances are made. They used to say the prime number theorem couldn’t be proved with elementary methods (well, for a professional mathematician’s definition of “elementary”), but lo and behold it was done.
Dirac Sea writes a post I’d love to have written on order of magnitude and unit calculations. It is grade-A+ conceptual material, and gives a lot of insight into one of the most important skills a scientist can have.
Also, any readers out there with a Steam account? It occurs to me that our demographic profile probably plays a decent number of computer games. I myself have a soft spot for games like Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead. If there’s interest, I might create a ScienceBlogs or Built on Facts group. No, this has nothing to do with science. But Seed (who runs SB) is the magazine of science and culture, and I’m pretty sure computer games are culture.
So there’s some very good ways to pass the weekend time. See you tomorrow for Sunday Function!