Archives for November, 2010

Why does Matter take up Space?

“A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.” -Tennessee Williams Matter — everything you know, love, hate, see, taste, and feel — takes up space. Even air must take up space. Not just wind, but still, stationary air takes up space. We’ve known this…

The Physics of Global Warming

“Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life.” -Hal Lewis The most valuable natural resources we have at our disposal during our brief lives are the following. That’s right, the Earth and the Sun. And if we want life on Earth to continue as we know…

Gimme An M! How the Higgs Gives you Mass.

“I suppose I’ll open a bottle of something if they find it.” -Peter Higgs Alright, all you quarks and leptons in the house. I’m looking at you in particular, up quark, down quark, and the electron. The up and down quarks combine to make up the proton and neutron, while the electron combines with nuclei…

“She said believe in yourself and believe in your dreams. I took away those words and will keep them in my memory for a lifetime.” -Dominique Dawes Every weekend, I try to come to you with a story that is a break from the regular physics and astronomy stuff I write about. This weekend, I…

Comet Hartley 2 and the Amazing Tail!

“I have just gone over my comet computations again, and it is humiliating to perceive how very little more I know than I did seven years ago when I first did this kind of work.” -Maria Mitchell, Astronomer If you were around back in 1997, perhaps you remembered seeing Comet Hartley 2 back then, as…

The Horror of the Higgs

“We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!” -Gollum, from the Hobbit Don’t get me wrong. The Higgs is an absolutely wonderful mechanism, and I’ve very optimistic that the last particle of the standard model — the Higgs Boson — will be found over the next few years, either at the Large…

How Afraid of Asteroids Should You Be?

“Every man is free to rise as far as he’s able or willing, but the degree to which he thinks determines the degree to which he’ll rise.” -Ayn Rand We’re all aware that one of the ways that human life on Earth could end, conceivably, is the same way that the dinosaurs went down. And…