Science Seen

Time One author Colin Gillespie helps you understand the physics of your world.

Exotic Not-Erotic Hadrons vs Gravitational Ripples

I’m taking time out from Pristina. Exotic hadrons are the rage this week. Suddenly a cipher, Z(4430), seems to be sexy. What’s exotic? Well, not-exotic, plain-vanilla hadrons are particles of matter. They include baryons―the protons and neutrons that are stable in nuclei of atoms that we see, and unstable particles called mesons that fly unseen […]

Hitting the Streets of Priština

We are in Priština, the new capital of a new country, war-torn Kosovo. Main street is Bill Klinton―not a typo―Boulevard. His statue’s in the square. He’s their hero; he gave the Kosovans Kosovo. Cars crowd sidewalks, people throng the streets, mingling in a complex dance. The dance is guided by blue signs and fading pavement-paint […]

Day Bus in Kruševa

After some sunny days in Beograd we take a bus to Priština, a 5½-hour ride, or so we think. There are overnight buses but we decide to take the day bus. It leaves at noon. It is a clean but hand-me-down Mercedes with two drivers and is almost full. All locals, except for us. I […]

Night Train in Novi Sad

It’s a break for me from writing, or so I’m thinking. We are on the 09:48 from Wien to Beograd. Change of trains in Budapest; a 16-minute connection ― safe enough because the first leg is an Austrian train. The second leg is 7 hours. Or should be. It seems that we are stopping overlong […]

What Do Neanderthals Say About Race?

Okay, this is not about Sochi. It’s about racial distinctions, and what physics can contribute to out understanding of them. ‘Race’ once referred to a group with a common line of descent. But over time it became less clear. Nineteenth-century racial distinctions were built on emerging sciences of linguistics and physical anthropology. Many scientists were […]

Harry Potter Magic and Levitation Physics

Some weeks back Harry Potter’s magic, having helped him walk through a brick wall, got me onto bosons. A boson’s any kind of particle that has integral spin (like 0 or 1). What’s spin? Well, that’s another story. Suffice to say it is a quantum number used by physicists to tag a quantum state. Fermions […]

Lemaitre, Penrose and the Original Order of the Universe

Life is all about order. Life forms use energy to organize themselves. Their often-exquisite order is created at the expense of disorder which they dump somewhere else. The net effect is always a decrease in total order of the universe. It’s basic physics (the Second Law of Thermodynamics, if you care). The Second Law says […]

Staying Sane

Knowing how the universe began leads inexorably to the question: Why did it begin? So I’m writing Volume two. Would I be sweating this if I had known that it could drive me crazy? First to go there was American critic, poet and author extraordinaire Edgar Allan Poe. Always borderline-unstable, having penned Eureka, a prose […]

Fair Go at Sochi Olympics

In Aussieland, from whence I am, Fair go is slang for reasonable opportunity. In New Zealand it’s a TV show. What’s a fair go on the ice or snow or track or in the pool? Picture this. You’re in the starting blocks at the Olympics. You’ve trained for years to make it for your one […]