Physics

Category archives for Physics

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…

If you’ve ever heard someone dismiss evolution, the Big Bang or climate change as “just a theory” and wanted to pull your hair out, you’re not alone. In science, after all, theories are the most powerful ideas we have to explain the mechanism behind the most intricate observable phenomena in the Universe. But it’s where…

The Physics of a New Generation (Synopsis)

“You suddenly realize that you and your colleagues know something that no one else does… and that it is important. You’re lucky if it happens once in a lifetime. I’ve been super-lucky.” -Leon Lederman It’s the holy grail of modern particle physics: discovering the first smoking-gun, direct evidence for physics beyond the Standard Model. Sure, there…

“To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.” ‐Jarod Kintz But for the Universe, although it’s constantly changing, growing in a gravitational sense…

There are a few questions that have perplexed humans for all of recorded history, ranging from the nature of matter to the origin of the Universe to whether there are limits to what is knowable in principle about all there is. One of the great questions that people have wondered about since ancient times — that…

Every once in a while, a scientist comes along who leaves an impression on the field so strong that all of the subsequent work on uses their results as a starting point, as a foundation. Einstein did that with relativity; Dirac did that with relativistic quantum mechanics; even Newton did that with mechanics. But what about…