There’s a lot of media coverage on the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. More attention than I remember for any eclipse event. These events have been noteworthy throughout history. Varied reactions and interpretations. This Space.com article “How Eclipses Drove 2,000 Years of Math: A Q&A With Stephen Wolfram” (August 18, 2017) highlights… Continue reading Eclipse as tale of computation
A trip down memory lane this week led me to the topic of this post. In exchanging emails with a fellow alumnus, I mentioned the book A Canticle for Leibowitz1 which we read in a freshman English class. He remembered the professor’s name. That led to an exploration of my file cabinets and the class… Continue reading Two cultures redux
In the 2014 science fiction action film Lucy, there’s a scene in a car where Lucy sees the radio frequency signals (streams) from cell phones and manipulates that part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum with gestures in order to listen to a call in progress. We are forever enveloped in an EM jumble, as Feynman… Continue reading EM jumble
Imagine a survey where you ask “How old is the universe?” as a multiple choice question: 1,000’s of years 100,000’s of years Millions of years Billions of years Other _______________ What would you expect as a result? Quite a mix? Well, among scientists this question is essentially settled, as indicated in some Space.com articles. “How… Continue reading Age of universe — implications?
Asymmetric gravitational interactions between two bodies produce gravitational waves.1 Such perturbations in space-time are so small that only the most massive interactions have been detected by LIGO, which uses laser interferometry and is “the largest and most ambitious project ever funded by the NSF.” While there was speculation about gravitational waves prior to Einstein’s theory… Continue reading Surfing space-time — gravitational waves
Space.com posted an article on June 15, 2017, which is a good summary of this topic — “What is dark matter?” Roughly 80 percent of the mass of the universe is made up of material that scientists cannot directly observe. Known as dark matter, this bizarre ingredient does not emit light or energy. So why… Continue reading Hidden in plain sight — dark matter
This Space.com article “Hotspot for Cosmic Rays: Touring the Telescope Array Project in Utah” published on May 27, 2017, reminded me that while CERN’s LHC is the current champ of colliders on Earth, other particles which have been raining down on us for billions of years are colliding with Earth’s atmosphere at even higher energies —… Continue reading Up in the sky — faster than a speeding LHC proton
This Space.com article “Solar Eclipse Science Helps Prove Einstein’s Relativity Theory in Nat Geo’s ‘Genius’” published on May 30, 2017, reminded me of the connection between the study of solar eclipses and Einstein’s theory of general relativity. While the U.S. prepares for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse coming on Aug. 21, National Geographic’s “Genius” recounts… Continue reading Solar eclipse and relativity — there is no Vulcan
While studying physics this past year, I noticed tension between theoretical and experimental physicists, especially between younger quantum field theoreticians and veteran particle physicists — regarding deep reality and the various formulations of quantum mechanics (addressed in another post). Revisiting some archived debates, this philosophical question (“Is reality digital or analog?”) was posed in an essay… Continue reading Is reality digital or analog?
As I continue to ponder the spooky character of quantum physics (the 10^-n reality), this May 17, 2017, Space.com article addresses a question at the other end of the cosmic scale (the 10^n reality): How Many Stars Are In The Universe? So how do astronomers figure out how many stars are in the universe? The first sticky part is trying to… Continue reading How many stars?