Physical Science

“For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.” -Jean Dubuffet It’s been a week unlike any other I’ve seen since I started Starts With A Bang! all those years ago. There are a lot of people looking for a lot of explanations — some are excited, many…

“The whole edifice of modern physics is built up on the fundamental hypothesis of the atomic or molecular constitution of matter.” -C. V. Raman As far as humans have figured out, there are four fundamental forces in the Universe: the three of the Standard Model (electromagnetism, the weak and strong nuclear forces) and General Relativity,…

Reflections on Matter and Interactions

I’m teaching introductory mechanics for the umpteenth time, using the Matter and Interactions curriculum, as we have for a while. This is going to be my last time teaching out of M&I, though, because last year the department decided to switch to a different book. Starting this winter term, we’ll be using Halliday, Resnick and…

Supermoon: Fact Vs. Fiction (Synopsis)

“For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.” -Richard H. Baker This coming Monday, November 14th, 2016, a full Moon will occur extremely close — within 90 minutes — of…

“The evidence at present available points strongly to the conclusion that the spirals are individual galaxies, or island universes, comparable with our own galaxy in dimension and in number of component units.” -Heber Curtis, 1920 In many different areas of life, we settle disagreements by popular vote. But in science, we know better; regardless of…

“Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge.” -Nate Silver When you take a poll, you survey a number of people with an opinion about something in an attempt to predict the behavior of a much larger number of people. If you increase the number of people you poll, your poll…

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” -Albert Einstein When we first began looking for exoplanets, we were expecting that other solar systems would be like ours: with inner, small, rocky worlds and outer, large gas giants. What we…

Quiz: Mars or Earth? (Synopsis)

“This is the plan. Get your ass to Mars, and go to the Hilton Hotel and flash the fake Brubaker I.D. at the front desk, that’s all there is to it.” -Hauser, Total Recall There are many locations on Earth that look like they’d be right at home on another world. While from space, it’s…

“Computers don’t make mistakes. What they do, they do on purpose.” -Dale Gribble, King of the Hill Alright, so I know you’re all impatient with the most burning Starts With A Bang! question of all: what was Ethan for Halloween? Well, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my avatar for the next 12 months:…

“Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.” -Frederick S. Perls, quoting Einstein The Universe we can see and access is certainly a big place. We see that it goes on for 46 billion light years in all directions, full of stars, galaxies, matter…