Physical Science

Secondlawapalooza has broken out over at Uncommon Descent, with a series of posts trying one more time to convince the thinking world that either evolution or abiogenesis violates the second law of thermodynamics. They are unmoved by the fact that the violation exists only in their minds. One recent post, by Eric Anderson, is entitled,…

The Quest for Truth: What Scientists can Learn by Observing Nature

Guest Blog by USA Science & Engineering Festival X-STEM Speaker Louie Schwartzberg Albert Einstein remarked, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” He knew something that many scientists and engineers overlook in their quest for truth: nature holds the answers we’re seeking! We’re simply here to learn nature’s language and laws and…

“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” -Mario Andretti One of the toughest things to wrap your mind around in the natural world is the idea of special relativity: the faster you move, the closer you get to the speed of light, the more difficult it becomes to increase your speed at…

“The sun is a miasma Of incandescent plasma The sun’s not simply made out of gas No, no, no The sun is a quagmire It’s not made of fire Forget what you’ve been told in the past” -They Might Be Giants It’s such a simple fact — that the Sun is made out of hydrogen…

Favorite Quantum Physics in Fiction?

We’ll be accepting applications for The Schrödinger Sessions workshop at JQI through tomorrow. We already have 80-plus applicants for fewer than 20 planned spots, including a couple of authors I really, really like and some folks who have won awards, etc., so we’re going to have our work cut out for us picking the attendees……

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” -Marcus Aurelius Let there be light! You’d think that would be enough: that you form stars in the Universe, you see those stars in the Universe, and that tells you about what’s out there. If only it were that simple.…

Just How Idiotic Are GPAs?

Yesterday’s quick rant had the slightly clickbait-y title “GPAs are Idiotic,” because, well, I’m trying to get people to read the blog, y’know. It’s a little hyperbolic, though, and wasn’t founded in anything but a vague intuition that the crude digitization step involved in going from numerical course averages to letter grades then back to…

“‘You are a different kind of Irishman, Goll,’ was all she said. ‘Every Irishman is a different kind of Irishman,’ said Goll.” -Charles Brady Sure, we’re all a little bit Irish today. We celebrate in a plethora of different ways, the most common of which is to prominently display the color most associated with Ireland: green. But…

Problem Of the Week Returns!

School has started up again, and so has Problem Of the Week! Problem six has now been posted. As I’ve mentioned, in the second half of the semester the problems get a bit harder. But have a go at it anyway, and feel free to leave solutions in the comments.

Imagine that you’ve got that absolutely weightless feeling, the kind you get when you lose your balance and hurtle towards the ground. Are you on a roller coaster? Did you fall out of an airplane? Or are you in an accelerating elevator? According to Einstein’s Equivalence Principle, there’s really no way for you to tell,…