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.

Cosmos Reboot, Episode 2

This week’s Cosmos was all about the evolution of life, and was viewed by millions of people outside of Oklahoma, where they presumably got an hour-long local news promo, or analysis of the Oklahoma State’s chances in the NCAA Tournament. As such, it was a bit outside my area of expertise, but that never stopped…

Happy Birthday, Mr. Einstein

The other big nerd event of today is that it’s Einstein’s birthday, on this date back in 1879. I keep meaning to take and post a photo of the cool picture of Einstein we have in the department’s collection of stuff, and this is as good an excuse as any. If not for him, we…

The Real Pi Day(s)

Today is March 14th, 3/14 in the normal American way of writing dates, so you’ll find a lot of silliness on the web today talking about “π Day” due to the coincidental similarity with the first three digits of π (see, for example, Rhett’s annual post). But, of course, this is an archaic and local…

“So, that’s the science show with space pictures. What did you think of it, honey?” “Science. Space pictures. Awesome!” Our umpteenth winter storm of the season delayed school two hours this morning, which is kind of the worst of all possible worlds from a parenting perspective– when the schools are closed, there’s (usually) a snow-day…

The Sound of Simulated Bombs

So, last week I idly wondered about the canonical falling-bomb whistle. The was originally intended to be a very short post just asking the question, but I got caught up in thinking about it, and it ended up being more substantial. And leaving room for further investigation in the form of, you guessed it, VPython…

Communication as Art and Science

I alluded to this on Twitter, and meant to leave that be, but the other thing I was going to blog today didn’t come together, and I probably shouldn’t leave a cryptic tweet as my only comment. So… One of the links getting passed around a lot in my social-media circles is this Tumblr post…

Uncertain Dots, Episode 8

In which Rhett and I talk about Cosmos. What, you thought there would be another topic? We have contractual obligations, you know… Okay, there were some other topics like Battlestar Galactica (both versions), why so much of what’s on Discovery Channel and TLC sucks these days, the flawed astrophysics of Firefly, speculation about how those…

Obligatory Cosmos Commentary

It says here in the fine print that my blogging license could be revoked if I fail to offer a public opinion on the Cosmos reboot, which premiered last night. I missed the first couple of minutes– I had The Pip for bedtime, and he didn’t start snoring until 8:58– but saw most of it…

One of the endlessly recurring topics around here is the use of PowerPoint and comparable presentation software. Usually because of some ill-informed rant against the use of PowerPoint. It’s come around yet again in a particularly ironic fashion, via an online slideshow at Slate, the only medium more consistently exasperating than a bad PowerPoint presentation.…

Idle Physics Query: Whistling Bombs

Not that long ago, SteelyKid was doing something violent with toys (she’s very tough, as you can see from the featured image above), and in the process made the canonical falling-bomb whistle noise. And it occurred to me to wonder, why that sound? I mean, I’ve seen footage of falling bombs and the canonical sound…