Physical Science

Have you ever thought about what “nothing” truly is? We used to think about it in terms of simply removing all the particles from a given region of space, which is a pretty intuitive definition of nothing. But quantum physics is notorious for defying our intuition. When we take a look at this “empty” space,…

(When I launched the Advent Calendar of Science Stories series back in December, I had a few things in mind, but wasn’t sure I’d get through 24 days. In the end, I had more than enough material, and in fact didn’t end up using a few of my original ideas. So I’ll do a few…

Ice Breaker Card Tricks

Today was the first day of classes for the spring semester. I have a light teaching load this term, which is my reward for having an especially heavy teaching load last term. Just two classes, and they both meet in the afternoon, no less. For a night-owl like me that’s a good deal. One of…

“I think if I had to choose, I would rather have gravity instead of zero gravity. It’s fun for a while, but I’d rather live on Earth.” -Kevin A. Ford By now, you’ve probably had a lot of opportunities to think about what holds our Universe together: the incredible force of gravitation. Although it’s the…

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. The fourteenth…

An Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Tyson: (I find the faux-familiar thing people do with “open letters” really grating, so I’m not going to presume to call you “Neil” through the following…) First of all, I should probably say “Thanks,” because I’m using some of your material in my class this term– I had them read Stick in the Mud…

“He who would search for pearls must dive below.” -John Dryden Sometimes falling can be a painful thing, as Ween might sing you in their ominous composition, Falling Out, but sometimes it can be absolutely wonderful, like when the Hubble space telescope allows you to “fall in” to the closest large galaxy to us: Andromeda. Thanks to…

“Do you know where to find marble conference tables? I’m looking to have a conference… not until I get the table though” -@kanyewest on Twitter If you noticed we had a busier week than normal here at Starts With A Bang, you weren’t alone. But there’s a good reason: the first week in January marks/highlights the annual American…

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” -Kurt Vonnegut The Universe is expanding and cooling, with all but a few of the closest galaxies receding from our view. In fact,…

The Pythagorean theorem made a big impression on me when I first saw it in middle school. It was probably the first genuinely non-trivial theorem that I learned. The theorem is simple to state and to understand, but it is not at all obvious. I have a clear memory of my sixth grade math teacher,…