Physics

Category archives for Physics

As noted last week, I went to SteelyKid’s day camp on Tuesday to talk about being a college professor. This was a little awkward, because I was scheduled to talk to kids ranging from not-quite-three to six-and-a-bit, and really, what do they care about the daily routine of physics faculty? So, I did a simple…

The Angst of Being Positive

The surest sign that I’ve become a Real Author is that there are five months yet before Eureka comes out, and I’m already fretting about negative reviews. Negative reviews that haven’t happened yet, but that I know will come, in a particular form. The book, as you probably know from my prior ramblings on this…

We got an email from the people running SteelyKid’s summer camp asking for volunteers to speak at a career day sort of event early next week. I said “Sure, I can do that, and talk about the glamorous life of a physics professor and book author.” They said “Great, you’ll be talking to several groups,…

Text of the ad we’re running for our searches this fall. This will go live on the usual sites at the start of August, but as a sort of experiment in the power of social media, I’m going to share it here first, and see what that gets us. —— We invite applications for two…

Two Cultures of Incompressibility

Also coming to my attention during the weekend blog shutdown was this Princeton Alumni Weekly piece on the rhetoric of crisis in the humanities. Like several other authors before him, Gideon Rosen points out that there’s little numerical evidence of a real “crisis,” and that most of the cries of alarm you hear from academics…

Right around the time I shut things down for the long holiday weekend, the Washington Post ran this Joel Achenbach piece on mistakes in science. Achenbach’s article was prompted in part by the ongoing discussion of the significance (or lack thereof) of the BICEP2 results, which included probably the most re-shared pieces of last week…

I didn’t plan to do a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the optics of sending messages with lasers, but then I starting idly thinking about detection, prompted in part by a bunch of conversations with my summer students about single-photon detectors. which led to scribbling on the back of an envelope, which led to Googling,…

Interstellar Laser Communications

In the comments to yesterday’s grumpy post about the Fermi paradox, makeinu raises the idea that advanced aliens would be using more targeted communications than we do: On the point about electromagnetic communications: even we are now using lasers to target communications with space, because it’s simply more efficient and reliable. It’s also basically impossible…

Fermi Fallacies

I’ve seen a bunch of people linking approvingly to this piece about the “Fermi paradox,” (the question of why we haven’t seen any evidence of other advanced civilizations) and I can’t quite understand why. The author expends a good deal of snark taking astronomers and physicists to task for constructing elaborate solutions to Fermi paradox…

The Mumbling Philosopher

The physics vs. philosophy slow-motion blogfight continues, the latest major contribution being Sean Carroll’s “Physicists Should Stop Saying silly Things About Philosophy. I’ve been mostly trying to stay out of this, but when I read through the comments at Sean’s post to see if anybody offered any specific examples of problems that could’ve been avoided…