Tiny Forces, Artificial Materials, and Wobbling Stars: Physics Post Round-Up

I've been really busy with year-end wrap-up stuff, but have also posted a bunch of stuff at Forbes. which I've fallen down on my obligation to promote here... So, somewhat belatedly, here's a collection of physics-y stuff that I've written recently:

-- Using Atoms To Measure Tiny Forces: A post reporting on some very cool atom interferometry experiments, one working to measure the very tiny (but known to exist) force of gravity, the other searching for a possible "fifth force" sort of thing.

-- Making And Shaking New Materials With Ultracold Atoms: A post reporting on a couple more DAMOP talks, on Cheng Chin's group using physical shaking to simulate unusual band structures, and Cindy Regal's group using single atoms trapped in optical tweezers to study few-body physics.

-- What Are The Limits Of Physics?: Having gone to a bunch of precision-measurement talks at DAMOP, I talk about three rough categories of effects that limit our ability to use experimental physics to understand the universe.

-- Using Ultrafast Lasers To Look For Earth-Like Worlds: A post about the ongoing "astro-comb" project using femtosecond lasers as reference sources to improve radial-velocity measurements for extrasolar planet hunting.

The first two were banged out at breakfast while I was at DAMOP, so they're a little rough. I'm very happy with the other two, though. I also had a post about fictional magic and one about the real purpose of conference talks.

As always, the traffic stats for these are sort of bizarre. Half-assed philosophy of science got about five times the hits of solid physics reports, but the academic conference thing drew so few views that I thought the analytics package might've crashed. Go figure.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to. This weekend, I'm off to another meeting, the Convergence workshop at Perimeter Institute. I'm function mostly as a journalist at this, which ought to be interesting.

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I especially liked the thought that different methods can accelerate pushing the boundaries in your post about the limits of physics. I hope something similar that happended for the dipole moment of the electron will happen for collider physics somehow.