Physical Science

A Quantum of Parody (Synopsis)

Although physicists are well-known for their quirky personalities, the in-joke among ourselves is our extremely nerdy sense of humor, telling jokes about our field, our equations, and of course, the legends in our field. These range from the subtle (Schrodinger walks into a bar, and also he doesn’t), to the mischievous (Heisenberg gets pulled over…

The Cambrian Explosion

After publishing Among the Creationists back in 2011, I started to lose interest in the evolution/creationism issue. I felt like I said what I wanted to say (at least to the handful of people who read the book) and that it was time to move on to other things. Besides, ten years on ID does…

If we want to understand the Universe at a fundamental level — all the forces on all scales — the biggest obstacle facing us is to come up with a correct, consistent, testable and verifiable theory of quantum gravity. To no one’s great surprise, we’re not quite there yet. In 2001, Lee Smolin — one…

In Praise of AMO Physics

I’m at DAMOP this week, though it took longer to get here than it should’ve– severe storms yesterday canceled the flight I was supposed to take from Baltimore to Columbus, so I had to rebook to the 6am departure this morning, whee. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a flight canceled…

“The wonder is, not that the field of the stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.” –Anatole France Wherever large, dense collections of cool gas gather together under the force of their own gravity, new stars are bound to form. Every galaxy goes through peaks and lulls in star formation, yet at…

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti If you want to learn something — whether it’s abstract or concrete, solving…

“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.” -Heraclitus This past week at Starts With A Bang put on quite a show, and you — as always — didn’t disappoint. If you missed anything, here’s what went on: Learning to chill (a guest post from Paul Halpern), Does a…

“I just think too many nice things have happened in string theory for it to be all wrong. Humans do not understand it very well, but I just don’t believe there is a big cosmic conspiracy that created this incredible thing that has nothing to do with the real world.” –Edward Witten It’s a difficult…

The Birth of BEC

I’m massively short on sleep today, and wasn’t going to blog until I saw somebody on Facebook mention that June 5th 1995 is the date of record for the first Bose-Einstein condensate at JILA in Boulder. I couldn’t let that pass, so I wrote it up for Forbes: Twenty years ago, in the summer of…

They say ‘A flat ocean is an ocean of trouble. And an ocean of waves… can also be trouble.’ So, it’s like, that balance. You know, it’s that great Oriental way of thinking, you know, they think they’ve tricked you, and then, they have.” –Nigel Tufnel When you travel towards an object like a moon,…