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.

Physics Blogging Round-Up: December

This one’s late because I acquired a second class for the Winter term on very short notice. I was scheduled to teach our sophomore-level “Modern Physics” class, plus the lab, but a colleague who was scheduled to teach relativity for non-majors had a medical issue, and I’m the only other one on staff who’s ever…

There are only a couple of bands I’d drive a significant distance to see live, and now I’ve made the trip to NYC to see two of them. I went to see the Afghan Whigs in 2014, and this past Friday, I drove to Brooklyn for a Hold Steady show. And this time, I have…

Physics Blogging Round-Up: November

I’m not posting as much as I did last year, when I was on sabbatical (gasp, shock, surprise), so making Forbes-blog links dump posts a monthly thing is probably just about sustainable. — What Math Do You Need For Physics? It Depends: Some thoughts about, well, the math you need to learn to be a…

On Feelings and Votes

This is going to be a bit of a rant, because there’s a recurring theme in my recent social media that’s really bugging me, and I need to vent. I’m going to do it as a blog post rather than an early-morning tweetstorm, because tweets are more likely to be pulled out of context, and…

Songs vs. Performance Pieces

At dinner the other night, Kate mentioned this podcast, which excerpts a bit of a Jon Brion interview from 2006 where he makes a distinction between “songs” and “performance pieces.” As an example of the latter, he uses Led Zeppelin, saying that their recordings, as great as they are, are about those specific people in…

Arrival Thoughts

People have been raving about the new movie Arrival, which is an adaptation of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” which I did a guest lecture on for a colleague’s class on science fiction some year ago. It’s unusual enough to see a science fiction movie hailed for being smart that Kate and I actually…

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…

Here’s a thought that occurred to me during one of this week’s sleepless nights: Donald Trump is Marion Barry for rural white people. That’s probably too cryptic for a lot of people, since I’m now an old man who yells at clouds, but what I’m referring to is Barry’s second election as mayor of DC,…

Two-Month Physics Blogging Round-Up

As the post title says, it’s been a whole two months since the last time I did a round-up of my physics blog posts for Forbes. That’s less content than you might think, though, because with the new academic term starting and some deadlines I had for other stuff, I posted basically nothing for most…

Grand Jury Thoughts

As I’ve mentioned several times, I just finished a two-month sentence on a grand jury in Schenectady County (well, technically, I have to go back for one more day, because they didn’t finish everything). I’m not allowed to talk about the details of the cases we heard, but I have some general thoughts about the…