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.

Benefits of an Academic Day Job

I’ve been quieter than usual here, partly because I’ve been crushingly busy, but primarily because most of the things I want to talk about, I can’t. Not yet, anyway. But I’m still alive, and this murderous term will be over soon, at which point blogging will pick up a bit. I will throw in a…

Eureka: Quantum Crosswords

My new book comes out one month from yesterday, or four weeks from tomorrow. Of course, yesterday was Sunday, and tomorrow’s a federal holiday, both lousy times for promotional posts, so I’ll drop this in today instead. Here’s a promotional video I put together, about how the history of quantum mechanics can be compared to…

General Relativity With Toddler Toys

A couple of times last week, I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to demonstrate relativity with toddler toys and string. This was an inspiration that hit late on Thursday, when I was trying to think of a better way to explain embedding diagrams (the technical term for those stretched-rubber-sheet pictures that everybody uses…

Quick Interstellar Thoughts

I’m teaching a Gen Ed course on relativity this term, which means I’m spending the last few weeks of the term discussing black holes. Which, in turn, means there was no way I couldn’t use that story about Kip Thorne calculating the appearance of a black hole for the movie. Especially since I have the…

Happy Pip Day

Exactly three years ago today, The Pip arrived, in a manner that will allow him to kill Macbeth should that become necessary. This is the age where kids first become aware of the concept of birthdays, so he’s just a tiny bit excited about this. He’s a fast-developing Little Dude, chattering more and more every…

I’m teaching relativity in a course with an astronomy prefix, which means I’m obliged to talk about stars and stuff. Yesterday’s lecture was about neutron stars, and how their existence was confirmed by the discovery of pulsars (with the story of Jocelyn Bell Burnell included). This requires some discussion of angular momentum to explain how…

Blogging will continue to be light to nonexistent, as it’s crunch time in a lot of ways at the moment, including our double tenure-track search. Which it would be inappropriate to talk about in any more detail than “Wow, this is a lot of work.” There are, however, two academic-job-related things that I probably ought…

A fine if somewhat intermittent tradition hereabouts has been the offering of high-concept Halloween costumes for people interested in physics, surfacing in 2010, 2012, and 2013. I’m a little too fried right now to do anything all that deep, but I’ll try to offer a few suggestions; see also these particle-physics suggestions from Symmetry magazine,…

Particle Fever and Modern Art

As mentioned last week, I was the on-hand expert for the Secret Science Club’s foray into Massachusetts, a screening of the movie Particle Fever held at MASS MoCA. This worked out nicely in a lot of respects– it gave me an excuse to visit the newly renovated Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and check out…

Uncertain Dots 25: The Lightning Round

I got the time for the regular hangout wrong, and then we had some weird computer difficulties, so we only had ten minutes for Uncertain Dots this week. Which was enough time for me to say disparaging things about comic book movies, so, you know, if that interests you… Here’s the making of Interstellar story…