Physics Blogging Round-Up: ARPES, Optics, Band Gaps, Radiation Pressure, Home Science, and Catastrophe

It's been a while since I last rounded up physics posts from Forbes, so there's a good bunch of stuff on this list:

-- How Do Physicists Know What Electrons Are Doing Inside Matter?: An explanation of Angle-Resolved Photo-Electron Spectroscopy (ARPES), one of the major experimental techniques in condensed matter. I'm trying to figure out a way to list "got 1,800 people to read a blog post about ARPES" as one of my professional accomplishments on my CV.

-- The Optics Of Superman's X-Ray Vision: Spinning off a post of Rhett's, a look at why humanoid eyes just aren't set up to work with x-rays.

-- Why Do Solids Have Band Gaps?: A conceptual way to see why there are some energies that electrons simply can not have inside a periodic structure.

-- How Tropical Birds Use Quantum Physics: Blue feathers on many birds aren't blue because of pigment, but thanks to the same physics that gives solids band gaps.

-- Why Do We Teach Old Physics? Because It Works: We had another round of people lamenting the emphasis on "old" topics in introductory courses; here's my defense of the standard curricular order.

-- How Hard Does The Sun Push On the Earth? In which one of The Pip's silly superhero books gets me thinking about radiation pressure forces.

-- How To Use A Laser Pointer To Measure Tiny Things: In which I use a green laser to settle the question of who in Chateau Steelypips has the thickest hair.

-- Don't Just Talk About Science With Your Kids, DO Science With Your Kids: A simple home experiment, and a pitch for the importance of doing simple experiments at home.

-- How Quantum Physics Starts With Your Toaster: A blog version of my half-hour fake class on the "ultraviolet catastrophe" and why Planck needed the quantum hypothesis to solve black-body radiation.

Both blogs are likely to be on a sort of hiatus for the next little bit. I'm giving a talk at Mount Holyoke tonight, which will get me home really late, then Thursday and Friday I'm going to NYC for a space conference. Then on Saturday, we're flying to Florida with the kids and my parents, and going on a Disney cruise in the Caribbean for all of next week. Which will provide a badly needed opportunity to kick back by the pool, because oh, God, so busy...

More like this

You may or may not have noticed that I've been making a concerted effort to do more ResearchBlogging posts explaining notable recent results. I've been trying to get at least one per week posted, and coming fairly close to that. I've been pretty happy with the fake Q&A format that I've settled…
Physics - Keeping atoms synchronized for better timekeeping "Atomic clocks often have a limited coherence time due to the interactions between the constituent atoms. While it is usually very easy to use fewer atoms to reduce the interactions, this leads to lower signal-to-noise and less precise…
I mentioned in a previous post that one of the cool talks I saw at DAMOP had to do with generation of coherent X-Ray beams using ultra-fast lasers. What's particualrly cool about this work is that it doesn't require gigantic accelerators or nuclear explosions to produce a laser-like beam of x-rays…
Derek Lowe has posted an article about X-ray lasers in chemistry, which amused me because of the following bit: Enter the femtosecond X-ray laser. A laser will put out the cleanest X-ray beam that anyone's ever seen, a completely coherent one at an exact (and short) wavelength which should give…