Condensed Matter

Category archives for Condensed Matter

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…

On Black Magic in Physics

The latest in a long series of articles making me glad I don’t work in psychology was this piece about replication in the Guardian. This spins off some harsh criticism of replication studies and a call for an official policy requiring consultation with the original authors of a study that you’re attempting to replicate. The…

I’m working on some short pop-quantum explainers for reasons that I’ll be a little cagey about. In casting around for a novel way to introduce Schrödinger’s cat states, I hit on something that probably works, but illustrates the problems inherent in being both a professional physicist and a pop-science writer. The hook, as I mentioned…

Small College, Exotic Particles

Topping the looooong list of things I would give a full ResearchBlogging write-up if I had time is this new paper on a ultra-cold atom realization of “Dirac Monopoles”. This is really cool stuff, but there are a lot of intricacies that I don’t fully understand, so writing it up isn’t a simple matter. The…

The very last section of the book-in-progress (at least the draft that’s with my editor right now…) is titled “Science Is Never Over,” and talks about how there are a nearly infinite number of phenomena that you can investigate scientifically. The universe is a never-ending source of amazement and wonder, with surprisingly rich dynamics in…

Two papers with a similar theme crossed my social media feeds in the last couple of days. You might think this is just a weird coincidence, but I’m choosing to take it as a sign to write about them for the blog. So, what are these papers, and what’s the theme? One is the final…

As noted in a previous post on Monte Carlo simulation in 1960, we recently came into possession of a large box of old Master’s theses. The bulk of these are from the 50’s and 60’s, but there are some going back much farther. As I pass these every day I’m in the office, I thought…

When Is a Composite Object a Particle?

Through some kind of weird synchronicity, the title question came up twice yesterday, once in a comment to my TED@NYC talk post, and the second time on Twitter, in a conversation with a person whose account is protected, thus rendering it un-link-able. Trust me. The question is one of those things that you don’t necessarily…

Last time in our trip through the cold-atom toolbox, we talked about light shifts, where the interaction with a laser changes the internal energy states of an atom in a way that can produce forces on those atoms. This allows the creation of “dipole traps” where cold atoms are held in the focus of a…