Archives for March, 2010

Starting with a little Bang: The LHC!

The stakes are high, and win or lose, worth playing for. -Fred Hoyle Yesterday was a record-setting day for humanity. Over at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider achieved a new record for the most energy ever created in a laboratory collision in the history of humanity: 7,000,000,000,000 electron Volts, or 7 TeV (Tera- or Trillion-electron-Volts)…

In mathematics, you don’t understand things. You just get used to them. -Johann von Neumann Sometimes, I have to deal with series: lots of numbers all added together. Some series clearly approach a limit, like the following: 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + … I can visualize this in…

Weekend Diversion: Blowing up a Whale

The humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere. Pieces of meat passed high over our heads while others were falling at our feet. The dunes were rapidly evacuated as spectators escaped both the falling debris and the overwhelming smell. -Paul Linnman,…

“No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilites — always see them — for they are always there. -Norman Vincent Peale Dark matter. I talk about it a lot here for a number of reasons. These include: the fact that it makes up about 85%…

Is the Universe a Giant Hologram?

Note: I’m on vacation this week, so here’s one from the vault. This article first appeared on my old website, back in February of 2009. Some days the questions I get are easy, and some days I get questions from our longtime reader, Ben. This past week, there have been reports all over the news…

Welcome back to The Greatest Story Ever Told, where we’re bringing you the story of the Universe. We’re going to go from the very beginning — before the big bang — up through the present day, and tell you how we got here. This is part seven, and you can always go back for parts…

Beauty is a form of genius – is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon. -Oscar Wilde Yesterday was the spring equinox for the Northern Hemisphere,…

One thing we can all agree on

It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back. -Dan Quayle This is my last day writing before my spring break begins, and I’m hoping for some great weather as I prepare to head to the Oregon coast. Warm weather, clear skies… I can picture it…

Why is Helium so Scarce?

I have this one little saying. When things get too heavy just call me helium, the lightest known gas to man. -Jimi Hendrix Hendrix is almost right: helium is the second lightest gas known to man, behind hydrogen. But there are many applications for helium — both scientific and non-scientific — that make it incredibly…

Thrusters in Space

Bart: Go, Dad, go! Lisa: How doth the hero, strong and brave, a celestial path to the heavens paved! (The family stares at her.) Lisa (dejected): Go, Dad, go. -The Simpsons Last week, I got a question from one of my online friends, cmgraves. His question was straightforward: How do thrusters work in space? On…