Physics

Category archives for Physics

“The atoms become like a moth, seeking out the region of higher laser intensity.” -Steven Chu Sure, lasers are fascinating entities. By stimulating the right medium with the right conditions, you can induce the stimulated emission of radiation of the same exact wavelength in the same exact direction over and over again. But is there…

Striking Cosmic Gold (Synopsis)

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.” -Bob Marley Going back to ancient times, it’s hard to think of a more commonly coveted element than gold. In fact, trying to transmute other elements into it was perhaps the holy grail of the pseudoscience of alchemy, the forerunner…

“Other than the laws of physics, rules have never really worked out for me.” -Craig Ferguson When you think about the Standard Model of particle physics, you very likely think about all the matter, energy, particles, antiparticles, forces and interactions of the Universe. And you might legitimately worry that this is all there is. Never fear; it can’t…

How the Sun *really* shines (Synopsis)

“Mr. Burns: Smithers, hand me that ice-cream scoop. Smithers: Ice-cream scoop? Mr. Burns: Damn it, Smithers! This isn’t rocket science, it’s brain surgery!”  -The Simpsons I bet you’re one of those people who hears a term like “nuclear physics” and thinks that’s hard stuff, way over your head. But in many ways, it’s the easiest of all…

“The self-same atoms which, chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains; and the ‘evolution’ of brains, if understood, would be simply the account of how the atoms came to be so caught and jammed.” -William James Summer is coming. No, not to Westeros, but to your…

“Physical reality does not require that we be pleased with its mechanism; we must see the implications of a theory for what they are and not for what we would like them to be.” -Kevin Michel If you’ve been following along for a while — particularly in light of the recent BICEP2 results — you’re…

“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…

“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” -Max Planck It’s been a great week for learning a little more about our Universe, from fundamental particles to scales beyond…

“While friendship itself has an air of eternity about it, seeming to transcend all natural limits, there is hardly any emotion so utterly at the mercy of time.” -Robert Hugh Benson If you were headed out into the Universe — spaceship and sci-fi technology and all — it simply wouldn’t make sense to keep on…

All about Cosmic Inflation (Synopsis)

“I don’t think at this point we have any way of knowing where the laws of physics came from. We could hope that when we really understand the laws of physics that they will describe how the Universe came into existence.” -Alan Guth So, since Monday’s big story — about the BICEP2 collaboration announcing the discovery of…