Category Archives: physics

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 […]

NPR descends deeper into woo; ineffectually discusses panpsychism

UPDATE: Some of the numinous-o-philia might be explained, as reader Michael noted in the comments, by Gleiser’s possession of two Templeton grants worth a total of $3,7 million. __________ The Republicans are calling for National Public Radio (NPR) to be de-funded because of its liberal bent. Well, perhaps it has one, but—with the exception of […]

Steve Paikin interviews Lawrence Krauss

If you’re a fan of physicist Lawrence Krauss, here’s a half-hour video in which he’s interviewed by Steve Paikin of the Canadian channel TVO’s show The Agenda. (Paikin is 57: can you believe it?) I was once on his show, and was impressed by Paikin’s preparation and probing questions, as well as his ability to […]

Two tweets

by Matthew Cobb Readers are invited to explain the first one, which involves calculus of some kind, I believe. When the shortest path is not the shortest path — Matt Lieberman (@social_brains) March 21, 2017 And this might amuse you Aliens is a reasonable idea… — David Bressan (@David_Bressan) March 21, 2017

Aeon: A physicist claims that materialism is dead because it can’t explain consciousness

Quantum mechanics is deeply weird, and I can’t grasp it in the sense of trying to understand how it works using my own experience as a reference. But of course that’s true for physicists as well, and I think it’s what Feynman meant when he said “Nobody understands quantum mechanics” (see the short video below): That is, […]

Sean Carroll on “The Life Scientific”

You can listen for free to this 27-minute BBC podcast (and download it)  in which Jim Al-Khalili interviews Sean Carroll on cosmology. There’s no direct link, but go to the page by clicking on the screenshot, while you’ll find it at the top. (Note: the second reader’s comment below gives a link to the direct download.) […]

Lawrence Krauss’s new book on the history of modern physics

Physicist Lawrence Krauss made quite a stir with his previous book, A Universe From Nothing. He took a lot of flak for defining “nothing” as a quantum vacuum, which of course could indeed produce a universe through the appearance of particles that pop into and out of existence, yielding the Big Bang. Theologians and philosophers, affronted, quibbled about […]