Physics

Category archives for Physics

“The anthropic principle – the idea that our universe has the properties it does because we are here to say so and that if it were any different, we wouldn’t be around commenting on it – infuriates many physicists, including [Marc Davis from UC Berkeley]. It smacks of defeatism, as if we were acknowledging that…

“Between cold fusion and respectable science there is virtually no communication at all. …because the Cold-Fusioners see themselves as a community under siege, there is little internal criticism. Experiments and theories tend to be accepted at face value, for fear of providing even more fuel for external critics, if anyone outside the group was bothering…

“There’s a mark born every minute, and one to trim ‘em and one to knock ‘em.” -David W. Maurer, The Big Con (1940) But how could you tell? There’s lots of amazing science going on out there, and none of us can be experts in it all. Moreover, even when we think we know how things…

There are no free quarks (Synopsis)

“In physics, you don’t have to go around making trouble for yourself — nature does it for you.” -Frank Wilczek Freedom is an easy thing for almost all the particles we think of. Want a free photon? Just let it go in a place where there’s nothing that’s going to absorb it. A free electron? Just keep…

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die… It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands…

When you think about it, it wasn’t all that long ago — just 50 years — that we didn’t know where our Universe came from. A hot, dense early state? A cyclical, swirling past? Or perhaps a time-independent one, where the Universe back then was not so different from our own today? All that changed in…

How to destroy the entire Universe (Synopsis)

“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” -Darth Vader Supervillains always disappoint me. With ambitions like murdering a single human, destroying a city, or endangering all life on the planet, they’re always thinking small. Where are the…

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” -Carl Sagan That might be true: all the heavy elements — in theory — were created after at least one generation…

The Physics of the Death Star (Synopsis)

“What’s that star? It’s the Death Star. What does it do? It does Death. It does Death, buddy. Get out of my way!” -Eddie Izzard It’s said — at least by Darth Vader — that the power to destroy a planet is nothing compared to the power of the force. But how much energy is that,…

Throwback Thursday: The Green Flash (Synopsis)

“It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” -Carl Sagan Although I often hear people utter sentiments that knowledge somehow undermines the beauty of the natural world — quoting some farcical poem about bad teachers like When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer — I never quite understood it. How…