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.

Over at Scientific American’s Frontiers for Young Minds blog, they have a great post on what happens when you ask scientists to explain key elements of a different research field. It’s pretty funny, and rings very true, as SteelyKid asks me tons of science questions, very few of which have anything to do with atomic,…

Science Stories: Commercial Instincts

(When I launched the Advent Calendar of Science Stories series back in December, I had a few things in mind, but wasn’t sure I’d get through 24 days. In the end, I had more than enough material, and in fact didn’t end up using a few of my original ideas. So I’ll do a few…

Pros and Cons of Super Bowl Science

The ending of last night’s Super Bowl couldn’t’ve been more perfect as a demonstration of the point I was making about scientific thinking in football (and, you know, in that book I keep flogging…). First, on the positive side, you have New England’s Malcolm Butler making the key play: “I knew what was going to…

I wrote up another piece about football for the Conversation, this time drawing on material from Eureka, explaining how great football players are using scientific thinking: Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some…

Math with Bad Drawings has a post about “word problems” that will sound very familiar to anyone who’s taught introductory physics. As he notes, the problem with “word problems” for math-phobic students is that it requires translating words into symbols, and then using the symbols to select a procedure. It adds a step to what…

Surprise!

Over at Curious Wavefunction, Ashutosh Jogalekar offers a list of great surprising results in physics. This is fairly comprehensive, but leaves out one of my favorites, which is the discovery of the muon. Muons are particles like electrons, but a couple hundred times heavier. When they were first detected in cosmic ray traces in 1936,…

Deflategate on Discovery Canada

I know I said I was done with this story, but this was actually recorded last week: The Daily Planet show on Discovery Channel in Canada contacted me last week when all this deflated-football silliness was exploding, and got a cameraman to come over and record me talking about it. The episode aired Monday night,…

Fly, Fly Away

Tonight’s bedtime stories included two books involving flying characters: Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond (in which the title character gets blown into the sky by a gust of wind), and The Magic Brush. The latter is a dead-grandparent book, but ends with a cheerful picture of the kids reunited with their grandfather in…

Eureka on “Inquiry”

While I’ve managed to generate a lot of blog traffic talking about football, I sort of suck at turning that into book sales. Sigh. I am, however, continuing to do interviews in support of Eureka: discovering Your Inner Scientist, the most recent of which is this one with WICN’s Inquiry, hosted by Mark Lynch. This…

Ain’t No Party Like a SteelyKid Party

I’ve mentioned in a few places that SteelyKid frequently comes home from school/ camp/ day care singing garbled versions of current pop hits. So for the first time since about 1990, I added a Top 40 station to my car radio presets, so I would know what she was actually trying to sing. This leads…