Physical Science

“There are now dozens of hockey sticks and the all come to the same basic conclusion. The recent warming does appear to be unprecedented as far bas as we can go. But even if we didn’t have that evidence, we would still know that humans are warming the planet, changing the climate and that represents…

“One way or another the first stars must have influenced our own history, beginning with stirring up everything and producing the other chemical elements besides hydrogen and helium. So if we really want to know where our atoms came from, and how the little planet Earth came to be capable of supporting life, we need…

“We have chased away the clouds, the sky is all ‘rose.’” -Francois Hollande When you have a light curve with two different large, periodic dips in it, a binary star system is the likeliest explanation. The stars eclipse, and in the case where they’re so close their envelopes touch, they’re known as contact binaries. That,…

“Speculating and predicting what lies beyond the boundary is fascinating. Finding out is even more fascinating.” -Wallace H. Tucker When two galaxy clusters collide, there are a slew of cosmic certainties you can bet on: all the galaxies will miss one another, the intracluster gases will collide and heat up, and X-rays will be emitted.…

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” -Saint Augustine Well, another week has gone by — the…

“Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection.)” -Neil Gaiman…

Physics Blogging Round-Up: December

This one’s late because I acquired a second class for the Winter term on very short notice. I was scheduled to teach our sophomore-level “Modern Physics” class, plus the lab, but a colleague who was scheduled to teach relativity for non-majors had a medical issue, and I’m the only other one on staff who’s ever…

“The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons.” -Edwin Hubble Over its more than 25 year lifetime, the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us what the Universe truly looks like. It’s done so in a myriad of ways, from planets to stars – dying and forming – to galaxies to gravity’s effects to…

“In the far, far future, essentially all matter will have returned to energy. But because of the enormous expansion of space, this energy will be spread so thinly that it will hardly ever convert back to even the lightest particles of matter. Instead, a faint mist of light will fall for eternity through an ever…

“Through basic science literacy, people can understand the policy choices we need to be making. Scientists are not necessarily the greatest communicators, but science and communication is one of the fundamentals we need to address. People are interested.” -James Murdoch Are you scientifically literate? Do you even know what that means? You’ll periodically see quizzes…