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.

French Toast in the Renaissance

As mentioned briefly here and on Twitter, I spent the past week at the Renaissance Weekend in Charleston, SC. This is a biggish smart-people festival, running for 30-odd years now, bringing together a wide array of people from politics, finance, science, and the arts. Bill Phillips has been going to it for years (though he…

2014 Was Just This Year, You Know?

So, it’s January 1, which means a ton of social-media traffic commenting on the year just concluded, most of it very negative– “Good riddance, 2014, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, etc.” I’m a little more ambivalent about the whole 2014 thing, and of course, being a good squishy liberal, I…

All Time Top Ten

A little while back, somebody on the Hold Steady fan message board put out a request for people’s all-time Top Ten songs. This is a really hard question, but a fun one, so of course I couldn’t resist. And since the overlap between there and here is pretty minimal, I’ll recycle the message I sent…

Holiday Thermal Physics

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a Seek Thermal camera, so I can continue my transformation into Rhett Allain. What’s this for? Why, physics, of course. Such as this video of the operation of the Christmas pyramid my parents picked up in Germany, and had set up at the start of Christmas dinner:…

Ernest, the Purple Aardvark

Ernest, the purple aardvark Had a long and hairy nose And if you ever saw it, You would really say “Boy I bet you could eat some ants with that thing…” All of the ants in Tasmania Use to run away when they saw him Because if they ran to slowly, [Loud slurping noise] Ernest…

Holiday Card

Once again, it’s Christmas for those who celebrate it, and a really boring Thursday on the Internet for those who don’t. In keeping with tradition, we’ve taken the kids to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Scenic Whitney Point, NY for a few days. This will coincide with a big drop-off in social media use on…

When I launched this back at the start of December, I honestly wasn’t sure I would have enough good stories to make it through. I suspected I might end up going a week or two, then quietly letting the whole thing drop. As we come to the end, though, I’ve run out of days well…

For the penultimate advent calendar of science stories post, we’ll turn to a great experimentalist with a great biography. This story also appears in Eureka: Discovering your Inner Scientist, but it’s too good not to re-use. Chien-Shiung Wu was born in china in 1912, at right around the time education of women was first legalized.…

One of the very best books I ran across in the process of doing research for Eureka is The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics by Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann. It’s an extremely detailed treatment of the development of quantum theory, and includes anecdotes that I haven’t seen elsewhere.…

Eureka: Radio Now, Radio in the Future

Last week I mentioned that I was going to be on the radio twice, talking about Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist. I was right about one of those: — My appearance on Voice of America’s Science World ran over the weekend, and there’s a link to the program up now. I can’t figure out a…