October 21, 2008

Uncertain Principles Challenge 2008

Help Chad Orzel raise money for Science teaching! Go here now.

Why, you ask? John Scalzi says it best:

Chad is, like, six feet, 28,000 inches. He’s a pretty big dude. And as everyone knows, large dudes are funny to watch dancing. But there’s more! He’s also a physicist and a fully tenured professor or such, and as well all know, the overlap between “tenured physics professors” and “adept dancers” is trivially small. Finally, Chad has a sort of gawky, innate dignity — he’s a friendly sort, but let’s just say I’ve never seen him prone to wanton acts of physical comedy. What I’m saying is, making Chad Orzel dance like a monkey would be the comedy highlight of 2008.

December 29, 2006

Bad Astronomy's Top Ten

Check out Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait's picks for The Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006.

Saturn from Cassini, back lit by the Sun with a glow in the background

October 24, 2006

The Trouble with Physics

Just finished reading Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next. Nearly every blogger I read has already reviewed this book, and I have nothing to add to their discussion of the physics: Bee, Chad, Christine, David, Sean, Peter, xkcd.

As a longtime reader of Not Even Wrong, I was already familiar with the history of string theory and it's failure to live up to its initial promise. Many reviewers compare The Trouble with Physics to Peter Woit's recent book Not Even Wrong which grew out of his blog criticizing the over-hyping of string theory. Smolin's book seems to me a perfect companion to Ian Stewart's Letters to a Young Mathematician. Both books provide an insider's peek behind the curtains of academia demystifying the day to day work and politics of professional physicists and mathematicians going about their career.

Continue reading "The Trouble with Physics" »

August 21, 2006

Dark Matter

What we're made of, what everything we can see and touch and feel and smell is made of, is like an impurity in the stuff of the universe, maybe 4%.

The image shows, in xrays in red, the hot gas from two colliding galaxy clusters, with the distinctive bow-shock shape from the collision. In white, we see the visible light from the galaxy clusters. In blue, we see the actual mass distribution, inferrered from gravitational lensing of the background. Read Cosmic Variance and Galactic Interactions for excellent explanations of the observations.

August 17, 2006

Programming the Universe

Can you say neu-trin-o, Eamon?

Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos reads aloud surprisingly well. At least Eamon and I thought so, though perhaps the other vacationers didn't appreciate it as much. I do my part to provide propoganda for baby nerds.

Continue reading "Programming the Universe" »