Physical Science

“Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it.” –Summer of 4 ft. 2; The Simpsons There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a…

How to soar on Venus (Synopsis)

“I remember as a kid having a balloon and accidentally letting the string go and watching it just float off and into the sky until it disappeared. And there’s something about that, even, that feels very much like what life is, you know, that it’s fleeting, and it’s temporal.” –Pete Docter So, you want to…

There’s something puzzling about black holes, if you stop to consider it. On the one hand, they’re objects so massive and dense — compacted into such a small region of space — that nothing can escape from it, not even light. That’s the definition of a black hole, and why “black” is in the name.…

“Now, Venus is an extremely hostile environment, and as such presents a lot of challenges for a science fiction author who wants to create life there. However, as I began to research it more thoroughly, I found myself intrigued by the possibilities the world offers.” –Sarah Zettel Of all the worlds in our Solar System,…

I’ve been doing a bunch of conferencing recently, what with DAMOP a few weeks ago and then Convergence last week. This prompted me to write up a couple of posts about conference-related things, which I posted over at Forbes. These were apparently a pretty bad fit for the folks reading over there, as they’ve gotten…

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” –Bruce Lee One of the greatest tricks that filmmakers use to enhance what can be shown in apparent real-time…

“We are a singularity that makes music out of noise because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.” -Jack Gilbert This past week at Starts With A Bang saw five new stories about the Universe, from our own home planet to topics about the birth of…

I’ve been pretty quiet about educational matters of late, for the simple reason that I was too busy teaching to say much. The dust having settled a bit, though, I thought I would put some notes here about what I did this past term, and what worked. I had two sections of the introductory Newtonian…

“I soon became convinced… that all the theorizing would be empty brain exercise and therefore a waste of time unless one first ascertained what the population of the universe really consists of.” –Fritz Zwicky When we look out at the galaxies in the Universe, watching how they rotate, we find that the starlight we see…

“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor. I told him he was grounded.” –Tim Allen Static electricity is often the first exposure to physics beyond gravity that we encounter in our lives. Simply rub…