Lots of media news this week, as the ISS celebrates 20 years [on November 2] of continuous human presence aboard the orbiting laboratory. • Overview of operations [PDF] The ISS is approximately 260 miles above the surface of the Earth, just a bit farther than the distance between Washington, D.C. and New York City. The… Continue reading Celebrating 20 Years of Human Presence on the ISS
Yes, Virginia, there is a black hole in the center of our Milky Way . What might be expected if you asked, à la a Jay Leno “Jaywalking” segment, some random people this question: “Where’s the nearest black hole?” Well, tallying those that know what a black hole is  … those that know what… Continue reading Yes, Virginia, there is a black hole in the center of our Milky Way
NASA’s outreach efforts over the decades have touted the benefits of space science in our (macroscopic) everyday lives. Technology. How about quantum physics? A recent YouTube video by Sabine Hossenfelder (below) is a useful start in answering the question: How does our “big and warm” everyday experience evince quantum effects? (from transcript) … the weird… Continue reading Connecting everyday experience with quantum effects
This Quanta Magazine article (below) is a helpful visual recap of whether the cosmos is “flat” or not. Does the cosmic landscape of stars and galaxies extend / expand in all directions like an endless piece of paper? Or another “flat” geometry – “by cutting a chunk out of Euclidean space and gluing it together.”… Continue reading Does the universe have a shape?
An article from Quanta Magazine (below) recaps the history of space-time symmetries in physics and how those symmetries have, in a sense, been simplified: Galilean (Newtonian) static, separate space and time. Relativistic “flat” space-time – Minkowski / Poincaré / Einstein. de Sitter spherical space-time: “… in the same way that the finite speed of light… Continue reading Universal symmetries – what really is broken?
This post was inspired by Don Lincoln’s YouTube video “Subatomic Stories: Is the Planck length really the smallest?” In his Q&A (where he responds to questions from prior videos), he notes a caveat about the law of conservation of energy. Energy may not be conserved … because space-time can change. He offers some links for… Continue reading When conservation of energy goes out the window?
Paraphrasing: Just a note before you go,A vision to be learnedTraveling near the speed of lightIt’s easy to get … Imagining how things would look when traveling near the speed of light is an interesting exercise. Using a freeware video game developed by MIT Game Lab (2012), this visualization (below) by The Action Lab is… Continue reading Sightseeing near the speed of light – realistic simulation
[Draft] A recent Nature article (below) was inspiration for this post. I’ve been encountering the use of topology in physics for some time. Typically the mathematics is elusive, but the notions are compelling. Wiki > Topology A continuous deformation (a type of homeomorphism) of a mug into a doughnut (torus) and a cow into a… Continue reading When is a coffee mug like a donut?
[Communicating science series] All hail vector spaces! Imagine walking into an elementary school classroom and finding kids talking about quantum states. Depicting quantum interactions using diagrams and bra-ket manipulatives, for wave functions. Someday, eh. While we may never achieve Ernest Rutherford‘s notion of a quantum theory so simple that we can explain it to an… Continue reading Quantum mechanics math basics – tasting the notation
So, today I’m celebrating the Moon. The ancient mythology and modern physics of its stabilizing influence. Both the Moon’s natural prominence in the earthly sky and its regular cycle of phases as seen from Earth have provided cultural references and influences for human societies and cultures since time immemorial. After enjoying the full moon for… Continue reading Life and the physics of having a moon