[“Quantum foundations” series] Demons in physics? Well, historically as fanciful ways to explore theories using skilled marvels – an illuminating rather than malevolent context. Pure imagination, not imagineering, eh. Physicist James Clerk Maxwell created a thought experiment in 1867. His idea involved a fantastical “finite being” able to sort molecules of a gas. Rarified acuity… Continue reading Laplace’s demon RIP? – demons of physics
[Draft] I read more articles this past week about research on the proton. Some refined measurements. Some better insights into topics in quantum theory. Rather than add comments to related posts, I decided that a new post was appropriate. It struck me that the proton, as a composite particle (“particle” in the sense of an… Continue reading Proton soup – a turbulent, dynamically complicated structure
[Communicating science series] [Draft] Communicating science is more important that ever in this era. Elsewhere I’ve posted various visualizations, including Online Video, which convey physics concepts at different levels of difficulty. And I continue to seek better visualizations of quantum field theory, demonstrating the disconnect from our everyday experience while using metaphors which avoid (to… Continue reading Quantum physics myths – communicating science
The daily grind. Global threats. Political chaos. The coronavirus … Perhaps a calming meditation? Our shared place in the cosmos, our ‘Pale Blue Dot’ – a tiny blue speck shining in space. Notes Space.com > “‘Pale Blue Dot’ shines anew in Carl Sagan Institute video to mark iconic photo’s 30th anniversary” by Chelsea Gohd (February… Continue reading Our ‘Pale Blue Dot’ – a meditation
As noted in my post on X-rays, looking beyond what our eyes can see – seeing what is hidden to visible light – tells a better cosmic story. Multi-wavelength observations refine and extend our view of the universe beyond our familiar vision. So, today we celebrate the Spitzer space telescope, one of NASA’s great space… Continue reading Celebrating Spitzer space telescope – seeing the invisible for 16 years
Imagine a grain of fine beach sand. What’s its size? Classification scales vary, but let’s say less than a tenth (0.1) of a millmeter (mm). A grain of table salt. Same question. Maybe ~0.3 mm. In either grain there are a gazillion molecules. Now imagine something a thousand (1000) times smaller – a micrometer-sized grain.… Continue reading Tiny grains tell a stellar story
Who would have expected the Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) to still be in operation after being launched into low Earth orbit in 1990? So, NASA/ESA kickstarted its 30th anniversary with some majestic galactic photos. Wiki: Five Space Shuttle missions have repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope, including… Continue reading Celebrating Hubble – 30th anniversary year
Ask people on the street “What are X-rays?” and you’ll likely get a variety of replies. About medical and dental X-rays. Stories about Superman’s X-ray vision. (Why does lead block X-rays?) Invisible particles that allow us to see through stuff. Technical explanations about electromagnetic radiation. So, street surveys typically reveal levels of understanding, which I’ll… Continue reading Levels of understanding – what are X-rays?
Have yourself a merry little Christmas Let your heart be light From now on, our troubles will be out of sight Have yourself a merry little Christmas Make the Yuletide gay From now on, our troubles will be miles away Here we are as in olden days Happy golden days of yore Faithful friends who… Continue reading Santa in space
[“Quantum foundations” series] A physicist walks into a bar, and asks the bartender, “What time is it?” The bartender is about to reply but then recognizes the customer. “You’re a physicist, correct? So, it’s a trick question.” So, what’s with time? A venerable philosophical question. A foundational question in physics. We have electronic devices, extremely… Continue reading Whence the arrow of time?