[Draft] Why is everyday matter so stable? We take it for granted that the lifetime of (non-radioactive) atoms is billions of years. Same for the protons and neutrons in their nuclei (barring a high-energy interaction). Unlike protons, lifetimes are not the same for bound and unbound “free” neutrons. Beta decay. Sticking around for billions of… Continue reading Particle lifetimes – live forever or die quickly?
[Communicating science] To understand contemporary physics, particularly quantum theory, the Standard Model is essential. This article includes an excellent video overview: • Quanta Magazine > Math Meets QFT > “A Video Tour of the Standard Model” by Kevin Hartnett, Senior Writer/Editor (July 16, 2021) (quote) Physicists would like to move beyond the Standard Model to… Continue reading Reality of fields, language of particles – the Standard Model
[“What’s changed in the last ~50 years” series] Fundamental particles have properties; but not due to any constituents (cf. Feynman’s dilemma for an electron’s charge ). So, mathematical patterns of … localized “knots” (tangles or twists as in Möbius strips) – particular symmetries – of space-time energy? A landscape of colliding (interacting) ripples … How… Continue reading A particle by any other name?
[“What’s changed in the last ~50 years” series] Some of my more interesting work as a systems engineer at Hughes was on projects with satellite hardware engineers. In the days where they still wrote much of their own “software” for operating payloads. Maybe a few thousand lines of code. Often quick-and-dirty. Over the decades, that… Continue reading The physics, the math – evolution of computational physics
Taking all-sky surveys / maps to another 10^n level of visualization … So much of modern cosmology depends on the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation in 1965. Wiki: “Any proposed model of the universe must explain this radiation.” Since then, advances in the tools to measure and analyze that faint, relic radiation… Continue reading Big sim’s – visualizing the universe!
Advances in all-sky surveys permit better visualization of the motions and dynamics inside our galaxy. And provide a better understanding of the evolution of the Milky Way. X-ray all-sky surveys As noted in this Space.com article, while “optical telescopes are much easier to design than X-ray telescopes … some of the most interesting objects in… Continue reading All-sky surveys – visualizing our dynamic galaxy
[“What’s changed in the last 50 years” series] The lightness of our being actually depends on heaviness. That is, the physics of heavier elements. Our biology, life itself. So, looking back decades to high school (or even college) chemistry class … The Periodic Table is so much more interesting now. A deeper understanding via quantum… Continue reading Stellar alchemy – more than one way to get heavy?
Quote: “Always two there are, no more, no less.” – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace  Well, stars do not always come in pairs (or triples, etc.). But binary stars – stellar pairs – are common. Estimates vary. Wiki uses an estimate “that approximately one third [33%] of the star systems in… Continue reading Stellar pairs – when the tango stops
[“Quantum foundations” series] Carlo Rovelli’s new book Helgoland – Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution is in the news cycle this week, with promo’s and reviews. (Probably more comments later.) (quote) Helgoland is a book by Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli. It is about quantum mechanics and its relational interpretation. The title refers to Werner Heisenberg’s… Continue reading Helgoland? – escape from quantum island
Epic events catch our attention. Spectacular stellar events have attracted attention since ancient times. Some events, however, cannot be observed with our eyes (visible light). Radio sources. And massive spikes in radio energy are telling astronomers something interesting. • NASA > “Hubble Tracks Down Fast Radio Bursts to Galaxies’ Spiral Arms” (May 20,2021) [Includes YouTube… Continue reading FRBs – whence galactic epic flashes of energy?