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
[Communicating science series] This is a concept often espoused by science popularizers over the decades. Even the background for plot vouchers in some sci-fi adventures. An amazing fact: We and everyday objects around us are mostly empty space! So, miniaturize matter. Fantastic Voyage! Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Downsizing. That’s why superman could walk through… Continue reading Our friend the atom, mostly empty space?
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?
Much has been written about Richard Feynman. Many tributes and books. Feynman wrote some books as well. But the inspiration for this post is an exhibit promoted for Caltech’s 82nd Annual Seminar Day and Reunion Weekend May 16 – 19, 2019. The Mind’s Eye: Richard Feynman in Word & ImageIn work and play, Richard Feynman… Continue reading Feynman’s legacy — quantum originality
Today’s post is somewhat different than usual. I’m highlighting a YouTube channel. Communicating science to a general audience has a long history. The bibliography for my physics blog contains some books by authors to this purpose. Modern physics has many great stories, and the just plain strangeness of quantum physics lends itself to great storytelling.… Continue reading Communicating what physics says — Domain of Science YouTube channel
I’ve written elsewhere about neutrinos (aka “ghost particles”). The latest news is about a particular discovery — a major team effort — as to the source of some of the most energetic ones. Many articles. Some contain illustrations. High-Energy ‘Ghost Particle’ Traced to Distant Galaxy in Astronomy Breakthrough Most of these neutrinos come from the… Continue reading Blazar neutrinos
Fermilab has an amazing presence on the Web. One of their sites is Fermilab at work. There’s a YouTube channel as well. There’s a splendid 10.5 minute video by Dr. Don Lincoln on “Why is the Weak Force weak?” Excellent graphics (including Feynman diagrams) and well presented. Published on Apr 14, 2017 The subatomic world… Continue reading Why is the Weak Force weak?
[A creative writing exercise] The other day I was glad to see that I was far from alone in my puzzlement about how the so-called exchange of bosons (as “force carriers”) produces both repulsion and attraction. Modeled in classical mechanics as particles; in Quantum Field Theory (QFT) as gauge boson fields — force fields. In… Continue reading Virtual attraction
I studied thermodynamics as an undergrad. Online resources really help refresh my understanding; so, here’s a summary of my notes about entropy. Hopefully these agree with how the term is used in physics. Statements Equation: S = k ln Ω [Wiki] “The second law of thermodynamics states that an isolated system’s entropy never decreases. Such… Continue reading More about entropy — reality vibrates
Happy Pi Day! When you’re trying to solve any interesting problem (a problem about almost anything) — a problem with lots of interplay between different things, it’s important to know what’s important and not, what makes a big effect on the result and not. And just how precise the result needs to be anyway (at… Continue reading Effective theory