Physics

Category archives for Physics

“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…

“The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.” -Richard Feynman It took 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, billions of years of biological evolution and astronomical numbers of events unfolding exactly as they have…

“By allowing the positive ions to pass through an electric field and thus giving them a certain velocity, it is possible to distinguish them from the neutral, stationary atoms.” -Johannes Stark One of the simplest tenets of electromagnetism — the second of the fundamental forces ever discovered — is that charged particles are accelerated parallel to electric…