Physics

Category archives for Physics

“Energy is liberated matter, matter is energy waiting to happen.” –Bill Bryson When it comes to the Universe, you might think that energy really is only limited by rarity: get enough particles accelerated by enough supermassive, super-energetic sources, and it’s only a matter of time (and flux) before you get one that reaches any arbitrary energy…

“I just think too many nice things have happened in string theory for it to be all wrong. Humans do not understand it very well, but I just don’t believe there is a big cosmic conspiracy that created this incredible thing that has nothing to do with the real world.” –Ed Witten So the cat…

“What a shot by Happy Gilmore! <aside> Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?” –Announcer, from Happy Gilmore After some intense physics earlier this week, it’s time to get on to the important stuff: the physics of taking a running start and trying to beat the daylights out of a golf ball. Sure, it’s the fun stuff…

Over at Starts With A Bang, Jillian Scudder of Astroquizzical takes on a doozy of a question: If a photon of light escapes from a star, when it hits another star, does it get absorbed and have to complete another cycle before it can escape again? After all, it takes (on average) over 100,000 years…

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.” –Georgia O’Keeffe We thought — back in the time after Maxwell — that if we understood gravitation and electromagnetism, we’d understand all the forces in the Universe. But once we started to dive…

The biggest, most surprising revolution that came along with the development of quantum theory, quantum mechanics and later, quantum field theory, was the overthrowing of the idea of a deterministic Universe, replacing it with a Universe where only a probability distribution of outcomes could be theoretically known, even if you knew all the initial conditions of…

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” –Terry Pratchett If you want, you can imagine back in the Universe to a time before it looked anything like ours did. Before there…

“There is a voice inside of you That whispers all day long, ‘I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.’” –Shel Silverstein It’s pretty obvious that the Universe exists in such a way that it admits the possibility of intelligent life arising. After all, we’re here, we’re intelligent life, and…

“If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.” –Philip K. Dick When it comes to measuring the expansion history of the Universe, the concept is simple enough: take something you know about an object, like a mass, a size, or a brightness, then measure what the mass, size or brightness appears…

“I don’t like it, and I’m sorry I ever had anything to do with it.” –Schrödinger Ever think that if we just pitted enough intelligence at a particular problem, we’d be bound to solve it? That was certainly the approach that two of the greatest minds in history — Einstein and Schrödinger — took, when…