Physical Science

“Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. That’s something that is almost part of being human, and I’m certain that will continue.” –Sally Ride When you travel some hundred-million kilometers through space to land, softly, on another world, you deserve…

“The specific moral is that within the standard model the [cosmic microwave background] temperature is a key parameter in fixing the thermal and dynamical history of the Universe. The measurement of this parameter made physical cosmology much more definite, and the detection of the radiation made the Big Bang cosmology a good deal more credible.”…

“All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end.” –Tacitus If you want to form a structure like a planet, star or black hole, you need a large amount of mass together in one place. The way to bring…

Seven Years of SteelyKid

Today is SteelyKid’s seventh birthday, which she’s been counting down to for a good while. It’s a little hard to believe it’s seven years since she was substantially smaller than her stuffed Appa toy. She’s become quite a handful in that time, with boundless energy apparently derived from photosynthesis (since she hardly eats anything), and…

There’s a new Science Express paper on interfering clocks today, which is written up in Physics World, with comments from yours truly. The quote is from a much longer message I sent– with no expectation that it would end up as anything other than a pull quote, I might add, but I thought the background…

“The radiation left over from the Big Bang is the same as that in your microwave oven but very much less powerful. It would heat your pizza only to -271.3°C, not much good for defrosting the pizza, let alone cooking it.” –Stephen Hawking Imagine you traveled out into empty space. Away from any and all…

Last weekend was our APS-funded outreach workshop The Schrödinger Sessions: Science for Science Fiction, held at the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland. The workshop offered a three-day “crash course” on quantum physics to 17 science fiction writers from a variety of media– we had novelists, short-story writers, screenwriters, and at least one…

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” –W. Somerset Maugham This past Monday (thanks, PJ), I celebrated the completion of my 37th orbit around the Sun. This is something we all have the opportunity…

When it comes to the definition of “genius,” everything is relative, right? When a particularly bright young person performs an amazing feat of intellect or scores incredibly well on a standardized test like an IQ exam or the SAT, we often herald them with excessive praise, calling them “the next Einstein” or even “smarter than…

“That, then, is loveliness, we said, Children in wonder watching the stars, Is the aim and the end. Being but men, we walked into the trees.” –Dylan Thomas Yet when you look at the night sky, it isn’t watching the stars that reveals all of the Universe’s secrets, nor by looking with what you can…