Tag Archives: atoms

A Small Problem

In recent posts we’ve touched upon the sorry state of physics. ‘Sorry state’ is not just my view; many physicists and science writers see this the same way. Physics has now all but lost experimental contact with the real world. What went wrong? How can we fix it? And why should we care? What went […]

Atoms Are Not A-toms

So, nat’ralists observe, a flea Hath smaller fleas that on him prey, And these have smaller still to bite ’em And so proceed ad infinitum. Jonathan Swift (1733) Once upon a time the world had a conversation about an idea called the atom. Greek philosopher Democritus kicked off the conversation around 400 BCE, saying matter’s […]

Does Physics Matter?

In previous posts I’ve quoted leading physicists as saying fundamental physics is in trouble. But why should you care how well (or how badly) physics goes? Here’s short answer #1: It supports a lot of paychecks. How this works may not be obvious so let me illustrate. In the late 1600s Isaac Newton kicked off […]

ULAS J1120+0641 : Voice from the Deep

  For most people, what they hear or see speaks to the here and now. But for astronomers, a telescope looking at deep space captures a message from the past because it shows a picture that took time to travel at the speed of light. Thus they measure distances in light years – in other […]

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 […]

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 […]

More Potter Physics

Thoughts of physics in our world have somehow got us onto Harry Potter. Like Lewis Carroll’s tales of Alice in fantastic Wonderland, J.K. Rowling’ magic world has elements of physics truth. We found shades of quantum physics in a teleportation scene from the first movie. Two minutes later, Harry shoves his baggage cart through a brick […]

Potter in Physics

Thinking about physics showing up in unexpected places gets me thinking about Harry Potter movies. A whole muggle generation cut its independent-thinking teeth on that magic. How much of it might be almost true? For example, there is Hagrid, late for his appointment with Dumbledore, teleporting off the overpass at King’s Cross Station. Teleporting? Maybe […]

What’s It to You?

So―a bolt from the blue as the saying goes―I’ve come to understand the way the universe begins. And I’ve concluded I should write a book to share this long-sought understanding with everyone. Why would anyone set out to write a book for everyone? I can think of only one good reason: Because its subject’s something […]