Experiment

Category archives for Experiment

General Relativity With Toddler Toys

A couple of times last week, I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to demonstrate relativity with toddler toys and string. This was an inspiration that hit late on Thursday, when I was trying to think of a better way to explain embedding diagrams (the technical term for those stretched-rubber-sheet pictures that everybody uses…

I’m teaching relativity in a course with an astronomy prefix, which means I’m obliged to talk about stars and stuff. Yesterday’s lecture was about neutron stars, and how their existence was confirmed by the discovery of pulsars (with the story of Jocelyn Bell Burnell included). This requires some discussion of angular momentum to explain how…

Particle Fever and Modern Art

As mentioned last week, I was the on-hand expert for the Secret Science Club’s foray into Massachusetts, a screening of the movie Particle Fever held at MASS MoCA. This worked out nicely in a lot of respects– it gave me an excuse to visit the newly renovated Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and check out…

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…

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…

Yes Virginia, There Are Quantum Jumps

In a weird coincidence, shortly after I wrote a post about “quantum leap” as a metaphor, I was looking up some stuff about John Bell and ran into mentions of a paper he wrote called “Are There Quantum Jumps?” Bell is borrowing a title from Schrödinger, who wrote a pair of articles (really, one article…

Finding Extrasolar Planets with Lasers

On Twitter Sunday morning, the National Society of Black Physicsts account retweeted this: Using Lasers to Lock Down #Exoplanet Hunting #Space http://t.co/0TN4DDo7LF — ✨The Solar System✨ (@The_SolarSystem) September 28, 2014 I recognized the title as a likely reference to the use of optical frequency combs as calibration sources for spectrometry, which is awesome stuff. Unfortunately,…

My TED@NYC adventure last fall didn’t turn into an invite to the big TED meeting, but it did lead to a cool opportunity that is another of the very cool developments I’ve been teasing for a while now: I’ve written some scripts for lessons to be posted with TED-Ed. The first of these, on particle-wave…

I didn’t write a summary of the third day of “Quantum Boot Camp” to go with my Day One and Day Two summaries for a simple reason: I would’ve needed to do that on Saturday, and I spent Saturday in transit back to the US. More than that, though, it was harder to summarize than…

The second day of the “Quantum Boot Camp” was much lighter on talks. The only speaker was Ray Laflamme from the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, who gave a nice introduction to quantum technologies. While he did spend a bit of time at the start going through Shor’s algorithm for factoring numbers (following up…