Category Archives: physics

Did Hawking have polio rather than ALS?

As we all know, Stephen Hawking is a medical anomaly, for he lived for over half a century with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a disease that usually kills you within just a few years of diagnosis. As far as I know, he had the disease for longer than any human in history. But did he really […]

Philip Goff returns with panpsychism: now claims that a non-goddy “conscious Universe” explains the “fine-tuning” of physical constants permitting life

I’ve written two critical posts about the ideas of Philip Goff (a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest): here and here. In both places (Aeon and NPR, respectively), Goff argues for “panpsychism”—the idea that in some sense the entire Universe is conscious. He waffles on exactly how that consciousness is manifested, or where it […]

New evidence for the multiverse—and its implications

As skeptical as I am, I think the contemplation of the multiverse is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the nature of science and on the ultimate nature of existence: why we are here…. In looking at this concept, we need an open mind, though not too open. It is a delicate path to tread. […]

University of Chicago “celebrates” the first controlled nuclear fission reaction

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Hili Dialogue, Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the first controlled nuclear fission reaction, which it took place here at the University of Chicago. On December 2, 1942, in an old racketball court beneath the stands of the Stagg Field football stadium, Chicago Pile-1 was activated by Enrico Fermi and […]

I have landed. . . to find quantum quackery

. . . in Houston, that is. The George Bush airport is HUGE and not pleasant. Next I have a 2-hour flight to Puebla. I have no time for posting, but here’s something to examine very critically. The famed physicist Roger Penrose, over at the Daily Galaxy, says he has a reliable physical mechanism for producing […]

Gravity waves: a reader’s take

I’m busy much of today, but have a few contributions from others to show. I thought I had posted on the discovery of gravity waves from the LIGO Project when it happened, but I can’t seem to find the post. (I did mention the award of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics to its discoverers.) At […]

A grand cosmological event: the collision of two neutron stars pumps up the physics community

Well, this astronomy/physics news is just in, and of course it’s above my pay grade, but at least I can refer you to articles in both the New York Times and CNN about a new discovery: the collision of two neutron stars, emitting both electromagnetic and gravity waves. The collision was detected in August, but […]

More sprites, as well as blue jets and elves

This lovely four-minute video was posted by NASA just today, and was found by reader Vera. It shows not only the red sprites described in the previous post, but also “blue jets” and “elves’. These “transient luminous events”, or TLEs, appear to be a mystery. They’re defined by as given below; they’re clearly very […]

Our official Website Physicist

Yesterday was the birthday of Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll, and he posted this photo on his Facebook page, which I have permission to display here along with its caption. Do note that there are two kittens in the photo (he and Jennifer are their staff). Can you spot both of them?   “I wouldn’t give […]

Nobel Prize in physics goes to three for discovering gravity waves

As several readers guessed two days ago, this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics went to Rainer Weiss of MIT, and to Kip Thorne and Barry Barish of CalTech, for detecting gravity waves. (Weiss gets half the dosh, the other two a quarter each.) That discovery happened only a year and a half ago, and that makes […]