Tag Archives: photons

Planck-scale physics needs to start with the beginning of the universe just like quantum theory started with the hydrogen atom

Planck-scale physics is not yet in its infancy. It is in gestation. Arranging a successful birth requires a strategic discipline. Walk before you try to run! For some reason (we will get to that) physicists seem doomed to run. Indeed—to milk the metaphor for maybe more than it is worth—they essay hundred-meter sprints before they […]

Twist and Shout: Topology In Action

As Chubby Checker sang and showed a 1960s generation, “Let’s do the twist.” Twist is not only an important thing. It is the only thing. Look around; all that you can see is made of twist. How so? The explanation starts with atoms and takes us through topology and Solitaire to the final fate of […]

How Does Teleporting Happen?

Teleporting may be an everyday event throughout the universe. Physicists experimentally demonstrated it some time ago. Recently they set a new distance record: six kilometers. Sounds like progress. Problem is that nobody knows: How does it work? ‘Beam us up, Scotty’ are the magic words that Star Trek fans know make it happen. In Captain […]

The Origins of Einstein’s Ideas

Albert Einstein is mostly known for physics theories. Or for E=mc2 (though he didn’t write it in that way). But his biggest contribution was the boldness, number, depth, diversity, originality and sometimes sheer courage of his ideas. Every one of these ideas was controversial at the time; now they underpin the world economy. What’s the […]

Managing the Damage on the Beach

Last week we looked at how adopting smart sun habits―tan, but never burn―minimizes your risk of many cancers and of other serious diseases. Now let’s take a closer look at physics that is triggered when you catch some rays, because there’s something else that you may want to do. A solar UVB photon has enough […]

Fair Skin and the 737: Deadly Combination?

Fair Skin and the 737: Deadly Combination? It’s northern summer so let’s speak about the m-word: Melanoma. We evolved in a wide range of sunshine so it’s no surprise that our relationship with it is complex. Equatorial peoples have dark skins and can take (and need) lots of sun; high-latitude peoples take and need little. […]

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 […]