General · Language · Media · Photo

Tiny grains tell a stellar story

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

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Celebrating Hubble – 30th anniversary year

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

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Levels of understanding – what are X-rays?

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?

Book · General · Language · Site

Whence the arrow of time?

[“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?

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2019 Nobel Prize in physics — our place in the universe

Yesterday the buzz started about the announcement of the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics. Here’re some samples of articles on the joint award to three scientists. A testimony to research on the cosmic microwave background radiation (and understanding of the universe’s evolution) and advances in observational astronomy. • Washington Post > “Nobel Prize in physics… Continue reading 2019 Nobel Prize in physics — our place in the universe

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Quantum reality, quantum worlds – new book explores quantum foundations

[“Quantum foundations” series] [Updated December 2019] Introduction to this topic If Murray Gell-Mann was right that Niels Bohr brainwashed a generation of physicists to accept the Copenhagen Interpretation, either his influence has waned or he didn’t do a very good job in the first place. For in an informal poll conducted at an international meeting… Continue reading Quantum reality, quantum worlds – new book explores quantum foundations

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An astronomer’s paradise — Chile

I just added another “big science” ground telescope to my Experiments page — the GMT. Astronomers claim that the images from these giant telescopes will be better than those sent to earth by the Hubble space telescope. Yet another in Chile. Then I recalled recently reading about Chile as an astronomer’s paradise. Here’s a sampling… Continue reading An astronomer’s paradise — Chile

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Celebrating X-Ray Astronomy — Chandra

This article “NASA Unveils Amazing Cosmic Views as Chandra X-Ray Observatory Turns 20” (July 28, 2019) reminded me of the limited vision provided only with visible light. Consumer security (and other) cameras have accustomed more of us to regularly seeing infrared light (a longer wavelength part of the electromagnetic spectrum). And that “light” behaves… Continue reading Celebrating X-Ray Astronomy — Chandra

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Image of entangled photons?

[Topic placeholder] [Developing story] Today’s news cycle contains articles about research by some physicists at the University of Glasgow who claim to have imaged entangled photons. Looks like they used a precision laser-based, table-top optical bench system. This Cnet article is a basic summary of the research: “Einstein called it ‘spooky action.’ Here’s an image… Continue reading Image of entangled photons?