Physical Science

“It’s a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.” -Neil Armstrong There are many impressive optical phenomena that we can see with our own eyes here on Earth. The…

“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.” -Aleister Crowley As we learn more and more about the Universe, we’d like to describe it…

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” -Theodore Roosevelt Scientists make mistakes. We fail. We have our intuition lead us astray; we synthesize information in ways that lead to catastrophically wrong predictions. Whether we make sloppy, calculational errors, have oversights in what we consider, or whether we…

“Science progresses best when observations force us to alter our preconceptions.” -Vera Rubin When you look at a galaxy in the night sky, it’s easy to imagine that it’s just a system of masses like our Solar System, except on a larger scale. Instead of a single, central mass, you have many stars responsible for…

“It’s the first time the universe has spoken to us through gravitational waves, up to now we’ve been deaf to them.” -Dave Reitze No doubt about it: the greatest science advance of 2016 was the end of the century-long wait for the first direct detection of gravitational waves. Not only were we able to detect…

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” -Edgar Allan Poe No matter where you look in the night sky, a powerful enough telescope appears to reveal points of light. Even if you find a region with no stars in the Milky…

Comments of the Week #141: Christmas edition

“I think that Walter Schirra aboard Mercury 8 was the first of the astronauts to use the code name ‘Santa Claus’ to indicate the presence of flying saucers next to space capsules.” -Maurice Chatelain Well, here we are: December 25th, Christmas day, here at Starts With A Bang! Whether you’re a Santa, a Scrooge or anywhere in…

“The very closest stars would require many years to visit, even traveling at the speed of light, which is impossible according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Today’s fastest spaceships would require 200,000 years to travel to Alpha Centauri, our closest bright star. The energy required to send a hundred colonists to another star, as Frank…

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” –Rabindranath Tagore You can’t answer a hypothetical question for certain, at least in science, without doing the experiment for yourself. Here on Earth, liquid water is plentiful; our planet has the stable temperatures and pressures that water needs to exist in its liquid…

“If antimatter and matter make contact, both are destroyed instantly. Physicists call the process ‘annihilation.” -Dan Brown Antimatter is the counterpart to matter: it exists with the same mass, opposite charge, and if ever the two should touch, they annihilate away into pure energy via Einstein’s E = mc^2. But there are a great many properties…