Atoms and Molecules

Category archives for Atoms and Molecules

My Quantum Alarm Clock

One of the things I struggle with a bit when it comes to writing about cool modern physics is how much to play up the weirdness. On the one hand, people just can’t get enough of “spooky action at a distance,” but on the other hand, talking too much about that sort of thing makes…

I’m rooting around in my bag for a pen, and pull out a laser pointer by mistake. Since I’d really prefer not to be grading, I flip it on and shine it on the floor next to the spot where Emmy is half-dozing. She immediately leaps up (she’s pretty spry for a dog of 12…),…

Rhett Allain has a list of 5 Things Every Human Should Know About Light, to tie in with the International Year of Light, and it’s a good list with lots of .gifs. Of course, there are some gaps, so let me offer some additional things that everyone ought to know about light: — Light Is…

The Sun Is Red Because The Sky Is Blue

SteelyKid missed the bus this morning– she was dressed and ready, but I was talking to Kate, and if there isn’t a person at the end of the driveway when the bus comes around the corner, they won’t stop. So I drove her over to school myself (which is faster, anyway). The GE research lab…

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.…

“You wanted to see me, Herr Professor?” “Hans! Yes, come in, come in. Just going over the account books. Frightful amount of money going out of this place.” “Well, radium is expensive…” “Ha! Oh, and speaking of which– here’s one of the sources. Absent-mindedly dropped the fool thing in my pocket last night when I…

High Precision, Not High Energy: Video

Back in August, I gave a talk in Stockholm at the Nordita workshop for science writers, about precision measurement searches for physics beyond the Standard Model. There’s now video of this online: The video quality isn’t great, but if you’d like a clearer look at the slides, I’ve posted them on SlideShare. The talk was…

On Not Talking, for the Right Reasons

Over at Backreaction, Bee has a nice piece on our current age of virality. Toward the end, she discusses some of the ways this applies to science, specifically a quote from this Nature article about collaborative efforts to measure “big G”, and a story about a Chinese initiative to encourage collaboration. She writes of the…

Schrödinger’s Cat at TED-Ed

The third of the videos I wrote for TED-Ed is now live: Schrödinger’s Cat: A Thought Experiment in Quantum Mechanics.This is using basically the same argument I outlined in this post, but with awesome animation courtesy of Agota Vegso. I’m impressed by how close the images that ended up in the video are to the…

Nobel Prize for Blue LEDs

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for the development of blue LED’s. As always, this is kind of fascinating to watch evolve in the social media sphere, because as a genuinely unexpected big science story, journalists don’t have pre-written articles based on an early…