Chad Orzel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He blogs about physics, life in academia, ephemeral pop culture, and anything else that catches his fancy.

The finalists for the 2014 “Flame Challenge” have been selected, three written entries and three visual entries. None of these is my entry, alas, but it was worth a shot. I watched the videos last night, and it was sort of interesting to compare what ended up working well with the test audience of 11-year-olds…

Guardian Emmy

“DAAAAADDDDDYYYYY!!!!” “What’s the matter, honey?” “I don’t like being alone.” “Well, I’m sorry, honey, but I have work to do, and it’s time for you to go to sleep.” “But when I’m alone I get scared.” “Well, I can put on some music if you like. You can listen to that, and it might give…

Go Fly a Kite

The kids spent last week at Grandma and Grandpa’s, as school was closed for Passover/Easter (best wishes for each of those holidays to those who celebrate them), and Kate and I went down there for the weekend. During which trip we went up on top of the flood control dam in town, and flew a…

In Which I Read Hard Science Fiction

Astonishingly, in the last few weeks, I’ve actually found time to read some– gasp– novels. In particular, I finished two books that probably belong in the “Hard SF” genre: A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias and Lockstep by Karl Schroeder. Both Jim and Karl are people I’ve met many times at cons; I’ve enjoyed…

As I’ve mentioned here before, I do a lot of work these days in my local Starbucks. This is slightly ironic, as I don’t like coffee– instead, I order tea, which I put in an insulated travel mug. I tend to get the tea, carry the mug back to the table, and let it steep…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 12

The last couple of days have been ridiculously hectic, but Rhett and I did manage to record another episode of Uncertain Dots, our twelfth: This time out, we talk about labs, undergrad research, kids doing chores, weather, student course evaluations, and I didn’t really rant about superheroes. Relevant to the weather thing, I offer the…

Superheros are Anti-Science

I’m not really a comic-book guy, but I’ve watched a bunch of comic-book movies recently. Kate was really fired up for the new Captain America movie, so I finally got around to watching the first one as background for that, then when I was sleep-deprived last week I watched the second Thor movie via on-demand…

Cosmos Reboot Gets Small

A diabolical psychologist brings a mathematician in for an experiment. The mathematician is seated in a chair on a track leading to a bed on which there is an extremely attractive person of the appropriate gender, completely naked. The psychologist explains “This person will do absolutely anything you want, subject to one condition: every five…

Union College Hockey, NCAA Champions

One of the weird quirks of Union college, where I teach, is that the hockey teams compete in the NCAA’s Division I, something that doesn’t usually happen for a school with only 2200 students. That might seem like a ridiculously terrible idea, but last night, it worked surprisingly well: Union beat perennial hockey power Minnesota…

This was kind of a dispiriting week in a lot of ways, but as mentioned in yesterday’s links dump, Kate and I had tickets for the Hold Steady in Albany last night. And since schools are closed next week, we packed SteelyKid and The Pip off to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and went to a rock…