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In Praise of AMO Physics

I’m at DAMOP this week, though it took longer to get here than it should’ve– severe storms yesterday canceled the flight I was supposed to take from Baltimore to Columbus, so I had to rebook to the 6am departure this morning, whee. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a flight canceled…

Engaging in a bit of tab clearance before I head off to DAMOP tomorrow afternoon, I noticed that I still had How to Teach an Ancient Rape Joke open. This is because while I found it kind of fascinating, it’s not all that directly relevant to what I do, and I didn’t have anything all…

What a Difference a Year Makes

Back in October or so, SteelyKid’s first-grade class started a weekly journaling exercise. Every Monday, we were supposed to send in a sheet with some prompts on it– words about something interesting that happened over the weekend, and the kids started the day writing about… whatever it was. I was a little dubious about having…

The Birth of BEC

I’m massively short on sleep today, and wasn’t going to blog until I saw somebody on Facebook mention that June 5th 1995 is the date of record for the first Bose-Einstein condensate at JILA in Boulder. I couldn’t let that pass, so I wrote it up for Forbes: Twenty years ago, in the summer of…

Over at Wired, Rhett has a post providing mathematical proof that he takes too many photos. As is traditional, he includes homework at the end of the post, specifically: Now it is your turn. Find the number of photos you have taken each year. Is it possible for you to detect changes in your life…

Hugo Reading: Not-Novels

As much for my own future reference as anything else, some thoughts on the bits of the Hugo ballot that aren’t Best Novel (which I’ve already talked about). At this point, I’ve probably read as much of the voter packet as I’m going to (though if I’ve left out something actually good, I could go…

Last week, the blog Last Word On Nothing did a piece on the best and worst sciences to write about, and the two writers tapping physics as the worst said things that were really disappointing to hear from professional writers. I nearly wrote an angry rant here in response, but Jennifer Ouellette covered it more…

Last week, I did a post for Forbes on the surprisingly complicated physics of a light bulb. Incandescent light bulbs produce a spectrum that’s basically blackbody radiation, but if you think about it, that’s kind of amazing given that the atoms making up the filament have quantized states, and can absorb and emit only discrete…

As the Hugo nomination debacle unfolded, one of the few bright spots was the replacement of Marko Kloos’s novel with The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, who is apparently a Big Name in SF in China. This got a good deal of buzz when it was released in the US, and I’ve sorta-kinda been meaning…

I was proctoring an exam yesterday in two different sections of the same class, so I had a lot of quite time. Which means I wrote not one but two new posts for Forbes… The first continues a loose series of posts about the exotic physics behind everyday objects (something I’m toying with as a…