Physical Science

Uncertain Dots 20

In which Rhett and I talk about awful academic computing systems, Worldcon, our Wikipedia pages, and AAPT meeting envy. Some links: – Rhett’s Wikipedia entry – My Wikipedia entry – The 2014 AAPT Summer Meeting – LonCon 3, this year’s Worldcon – My puzzling Worldcon schedule We have some ideas for what to do next…

“In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.”  -John Archibald Wheeler It’s been over a decade, nearly a hundred thousand turns of its wheels and an unprecedented journey that still continues. But finally, after all this time, the Mars Opportunity rover has arrived. Not anyplace that isn’t just like something it’s seen…

“From a little spark may burst a flame.” -Dante Alighieri It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago, we hadn’t even begun Messier Monday, and now there are fewer than 20 objects left! Today represents a great milestone, as we finally take on the last of fifteen galaxies that Messier catalogued as part of the…

“General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to convey my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you…

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” -Albert Einstein It’s been a fabulous, fun-filled week over at the main Starts With A Bang blog, and we’ve taken on a variety of topics that range from the small…

“Ignorance is hardly unusual, Miss Davar. The longer I live, the more I come to realize that it is the natural state of the human mind. There are many who will strive to defend its sanctity and then expect you to be impressed with their efforts.” -Brandon Sanderson At the risk of inflaming everyone who…

I should really know better than to click any tweeted link with a huff.to shortened URL, but for some reason, I actually followed one to an article with the limited-reach clickbait title Curious About Quantum Physics? Read These 10 Articles!. Which is only part one, because Huffington Post, so it’s actually five articles. Three of…

Americans and Math

From the current issue of The New York Times Magazine: One of the most vivid arithmetic failings displayed by Americans occurred in the early 1980s, when the A&W restaurant chain released a new hamburger to rival the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. With a third-pound of beef, the A&W burger had more meat than the Quarter Pounder;…

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” -Alexander Graham Bell The Sun, contrary to what you might normally think about it, isn’t a constant, uniform source of radiation. It has an active surface, replete with temperature variations, sunspots, and occasionally a large…

Is our Universe left-handed? (Synopsis)

“Since the beginning of physics, symmetry considerations have provided us with an extremely powerful and useful tool in our effort to understand nature. Gradually they have become the backbone of our theoretical formulation of physical laws.” -Tsung-Dao Lee We normally think of the Universe as being symmetric, in the sense that no one direction, location…