Category Archives: physics

An unenlightening disquisition on consciousness

Several readers sent me Galen Strawson’s new piece in the New York Times‘s philosophy section, “The Stone.” In his op-ed, “Consciousness isn’t a mystery. It’s matter“, respected philosopher of mind Strawson makes three contentions. I find the most important two to be uncontroversial, while the third is puzzling. The basic premise is that consciousness is […]

Does the beauty and effectiveness of math in understanding the world prove anything?

One of the disadvantages of shopping for food early Sunday morning is that Krista Tippett’s “On Being” program is on National Public Radio at 7 a.m. And, of course, I have to listen, cursing to myself for an entire hour. Why do I do it, you ask? I could say that I need to keep […]

Krauss on gravitational waves

If you’re interested in the stunning announcement of gravitational waves yesterday, do read Lawrence Krauss’s piece about it in the New York Times, “Beauty in the darkness.” He’s the expert here, so I’ll just give an excerpt. I should add that this observation provides evidence not just for gravitational waves, but also for black holes: To see […]

Einstein right again: Gravitational waves discovered at last!

There were rumors afoot yesterday that this would be announced today. And my CNN news feed just directed me to their article, which I reproduce in its entirety; the headline calls gravitational waves “the holy grail of modern physics.” Gravitational waves are a reality, according to scientists from an institution that has been hoping to observe […]

Gravitational waves discovered?

If they’re real, this is a stupendous discovery. Read about them here and here, and here’s a tw**t by Lawrence Krauss

Magnets are magic

by Matthew Cobb [JAC: Here’s how a small perturbation in a magnetic field sets off a cool chain reaction. It’s the butterfly effect!] "Magnetic field disruption causing chain reaction." via — samim (@samim) January 9, 2016 Here’s the original video, which I can’t embed.

Sean Carroll debunks the “fine-tuning” argument for God

I don’t know how many readers watched Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll debate theologian William Lane Craig on whether cosmology gives evidence for God, but nonbeliever Carroll clearly won (I’m not unbiased, of course!). Here Carroll takes apart the argument that the so-called “fine tuning” of the physical constants of the Universe constitutes evidence for […]

Cold fusion back in the spotlight (courtesy of Templeton)

Reader Michael called my attention to a pair of dueling articles about cold fusion. You may remember the kerfuffle about this issue, first reported as a viable process by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in 1989, who said they could effect nuclear fusion at room temperature, a process previously thought possible only at extremely high temperatures. If their finding […]

Monday afternoon gifs

by Matthew Cobb Three tw**ted gifs for a Monday: What sheep get up to when you're not looking! — Meriel (@MerielMyers) November 29, 2015 Wave motion at the surface of water is made up of small circular motions of parcels of water. — Exploratorium (@exploratorium) November 28, 2015 Physics Gif Friday: refraction of […]

You won’t believe these pictures of molecules!

Well, I just wrote my first clickbait headline as a test to see if it attracts readers. I’m referring here to a 2.5-year-old paper that just came to my attention; I call it to yours because although the chemistry is complicated, the pictures are lovely. The work in question is by Dimas de Oteyza et al. and […]