Thermo/StatMech

Category archives for Thermo/StatMech

We’re in the home stretch of this term, and it has become clear that I won’t actually be using the toy model of the arrow of time I’ve talked about in the past in my timekeeping class this term. These things happen. Having spent a not-insignificant amount of time playing with the thing, though, I…

I’m fairly certain somebody has already done this, because it’s such an obvious idea. It’s a little beyond my cargo-cult VPython skills right at the moment, though (I can probably learn to do it, but not right now), and I none of the applets I Googled up seemed to be doing this, so I’m posting…

While clearing the cars of frost Thursday morning, I was reminded of a difference of opinion Kate and I have about the best approach to a cold car. I tend to start the car up, and immediately turn the defrost on full blast; she prefers to let the car warm up for a while first,…

Moving along in our countdown to Newton’s birthday, we come to 1900, and one of the most revolutionary moment in the history of physics, represented in today’s equation: This is Max Planck’s formula for the spectrum of the “black-body” radiation emitted by a hot object at temperature T. It’s also the equation highlighted on what…

The Advent Calendar of Physics: Entropy

As I said yesterday, I’m going to blow through another entire subfield of physics in a single equation, as our march toward Newton’s Birthday continues. Today, it’s statistical mechanics, a very rich field of study that we’re boiling down to a single equation: This is Boltzmann’s formula for the entropy of a macroscopic system of…

The Advent Calendar of Physics: Ideal Gas

Once again, the advent calendar is delayed until late at night by a busy day with SteelyKid– soccer in the morning, playing with a trebuchet after lunch, then Arthur Christmas at the Colonie mall. We’re running low on days to honor great milestones in physics, though, so I don’t want to skip a day entirely.…

Greenhouse Physics and Car Shades

I got a new comment on an old post asking an interesting question about thermodynamics: I have a question that bears somewhat on this issue of keeping cars parked in the sun, cooler. You all know those accordion folded/aluminized shades you can put up inside the windshield and back window. Seems to me putting them…

One of the benefits of having joined AAAS in order to get a reduced registration fee at their meeting is that I now have online access to Science at home. Including the Science Express advance online papers, which I don’t usually get on campus. Which means that I get the chance to talk about the…

Beat the Heat with SCIENCE!

It’s really frickin’ hot in much of the US. Fortunately, we have central air at home, A/C in the car, and convenient local businesses with air conditioning and free wi-fi. The inadequate HVAC systems in the Science and Engineering building on campus aren’t anywhere near being able to cope with this, so I’m working from…

Last summer, there was a fair bit of hype about a paper from Mark Raizen’s group at Texas which was mostly reported with an “Einstein proven wrong” slant, probably due to this press release. While it is technically true that they measured something Einstein said would be impossible to measure, that framing is a little…