Physics

Category archives for Physics

I’ve decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the “standard” academic science track. The twelfth…

Quantum Optics: The Game

Over on Facebook, my colleague Chris Chabris was talking up a smartphone game from a company he’s associated with. Which of course got me thinking “Wait, why don’t I have a smartphone game company?” (The Renaissance Weekend is also partly to blame, as I was one of about six people there who didn’t have a…

“Hey,” you say, “It’s been, like, a week and a half since you did a post flogging Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist. What gives?” Well, I’ve been kind of busy, and also the media world sort of goes into suspended animation over the stretch between Christmas and New Year’s. However, there’s publicity stuff in the…

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:…

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.…

Another weekend day, another story I’m going to outsource a bit. In this case, to the original scientist, who at the time of his discovery was a 13-year-old schoolboy in Tanzania: In 1963, when I was in form 3 in Magamba Secondary School, Tanzania, I used to make ice-cream. The boys at the school do…

We’re going to depart from the chronological ordering again, because it’s the weekend and I have to do a bunch of stuff with the kids. Which means I’m in search of a story I can outsource… In this case, I’m outsourcing to myself– this is a genuine out-take from Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, specifically…

As I endlessly repeat, I’m an experimentalist by training an inclination, so I especially appreciate stories about experimental science. There’s something particularly wonderful about the moment when an experiment clicks together, usually after weeks or months of hard, frustrating work, when things just keep breaking. Of course, sometimes, breaking stuff can be a Good Thing.…

Method and Its Discontents

Given that I am relentlessly flogging a book about the universality of the scientific process (Available wherever books are sold! They make excellent winter solstice holiday gifts!), I feel like I ought to try to say something about the latest kerfuffle about the scientific method. This takes the form of an editorial in Nature complaining…