Physics

Category archives for Physics

“Journalists often ask me when I go to the field, ‘What do you expect to find?’ And my answer always is, ‘The unexpected,’ because we’re just looking at the tip of the iceberg; we’ve just scratched the surface.” –Donald Johanson Imagine you wanted to know what your acceleration was anywhere on Earth; imagine that simply…

“One of the dreariest spots on life’s road is the point of conviction that nothing will ever again happen to you.” –Faith Baldwin Bet you thought you knew it all about the asteroid belt. These frozen, ice-and-rock worlds orbit farther out from Mars, closer in than Jupiter, and occasionally get hurled towards the inner Solar…

The Missing Piece (Synopsis)

If you’re not a theoretical physicist yourself, you might think that physics is physics — we ask questions about the Universe, do experiments/make observations, and get the answers — and math is just a tool that we use to help us get there. But that really sells the power of mathematics short. For a physical…

“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…