Physics

Category archives for Physics

Ask Ethan #21: Why does life exist?

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost Well, here we are, at the end of the week, and you know what that means: another Ask Ethan column! This week, I’ve been asked about the same thing by many different people, so I’ll credit it to Patrick E. and…

“I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different.” -T. S. Eliot Time passes, and things grow; that’s the way of the world, so it seems. 2013 was no exception, and as Joshua Radin (featuring Patty Griffin) would sing, You Got Growin Up To Do. Well, the world grew again this year,…

“Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark? Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.” -National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Ahh, Christmas. It’s easy to forget how much the invention of the light bulb in 1879 reduced the number of tree fires in people’s homes. It was a mere three years later that people began…

Ask Ethan #16: What are Variable Stars?

“To be is to be the value of a variable.” -Willard Van Orman Quine It’s the end of the week once again, and the very end of our Year In Space 2014 Wall Calendar giveaway! So for this week’s Ask Ethan column, after dipping into our question/suggestion box, I’m very pleased to let Vera from…

The Largest Trainwrecks in the Universe

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay It was just a little while ago that we were all speculating wildly — and optimistically — about Comet…

“The results of my observation are best explained by the assumption that a radiation of very great penetrating power enters our atmosphere from above.” -Victor Hess You might think of the largest and most powerful particle accelerators in the world — places like SLAC, Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider — as the source of…

“Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.” -Robert Frost Depending on…

Ask Ethan #13: Where does matter come from?

“If you see an antimatter version of yourself running towards you, think twice before embracing.” -J. Richard Gott III It may not occur to you that it’s a special thing that the Earth and everything found on it is made of matter; it seems intuitive that it couldn’t be any other way. And yet, the…

“I have announced this star as a comet, but since it is not accompanied by any nebulosity and, further, since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet. But I have been careful not to advance this supposition to…

“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 It’s the end of the week once again, and so let’s have a go at another Ask Ethan! Perhaps inspired by a great…