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All We Are Saying Is Give Physics a Chance

Last week, the blog Last Word On Nothing did a piece on the best and worst sciences to write about, and the two writers tapping physics as the worst said things that were really disappointing to hear from professional writers. I nearly wrote an angry rant here in response, but Jennifer Ouellette covered it more…

Inside particle detectors: calorimeters

Physicist Jim Pivarski explains how particle detectors tell us about the smallest constituents of matter. The previous article in this series introduced tracking, a technique that allows physicists to see the trajectories of individual particles. Show More Summary

The Nash Musings

Since the news of the tragic death recently of John Nash and his wife in an automobile accident last weekend, some of those who were at Princeton during the same time I was (late 70s, early 80s) have been exchanging … Continue readi...

Inside particle detectors: trackers

Fermilab physicist Jim Pivarski explains how particle detectors tell us about the smallest constituents of matter. Much of the complexity of particle physics experiments can be boiled down to two basic types of detectors: trackers and calorimeters. Show More Summary

Record smashed at LHC as machine limbers up for its second run

CERN's recently restarted Large Hadron Collider has collided two proton beams at a record energy of 13 teraelectronvolts, meaning experiments are about to resume

Building an instrument to map the universe in 3-D

This article appeared in Fermilab Today on May 27, 2015. Dark energy makes up about 70 percent of the universe and is causing its accelerating expansion. But what it is or how it works remains a mystery. The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) will study the origins and effects of dark energy by creating the

This Week’s Hype

I’m busy with other things, so no possible way I can keep up with the claims about string theory flooding the media for some reason these days. It’s hard enough to find the time to read all of this, much … Continue reading ?

Crude Monte Carlo Simulation of Light-Bulb Physics

Last week, I did a post for Forbes on the surprisingly complicated physics of a light bulb. Incandescent light bulbs produce a spectrum that’s basically blackbody radiation, but if you think about it, that’s kind of amazing given that the atoms making up the filament have quantized states, and can absorb and emit only discrete…


...going more than a week without baking something felt just. plain. wrong. Walnut bread. (Slightly dark in finish, but tasty. Click for larger view.) " overnight before serving." Let's pretend (munch, munch) that I did not see that instruction (munch, munch...) -cvj Click to continue reading this post ?

Getting an insight into Einstein's worlds

From a row about time to a bad paper on black holes, there's lots to learn about Einstein from a clutch of books published at the centenary of general relativity

On Testability…

Here’s some interesting Sunday reading: Frank Close wrote a very nice article for Prospect Magazine on the business of testing scientific theories in Physics. Ideas about multiverses and also string theory are the main subjects under consideration. I recommend it. My own thoughts on the matter? Well, I think most … Click to continue reading this post ?

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu, translator)

As the Hugo nomination debacle unfolded, one of the few bright spots was the replacement of Marko Kloos’s novel with The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, who is apparently a Big Name in SF in China. This got a good deal of buzz when it was released in the US, and I’ve sorta-kinda been meaning…

John Nash 1928-2015

I was sorry to hear this morning that John Nash and his wife Alicia died yesterday in a car crash (news story here). They were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike, heading home from the airport after a … Continue reading ?


March 24th is Ada Lovelace day.   For more information, see Here is my Ada Lovelace post: I really struggled to come up with a woman in technology to write about here.   I was never supervised by or with another … Continue reading ?

Circuits by Analogy

Some not so useful useful but cool sounding and true analogies I have used during my office hours while teaching undergrads about circuits: Charging a capacitor is like falling out of an airplane. “Charging” an inductor is like a bunch … Continue reading ?


I was told on friday that Sidney Coleman’s famous Quantum Field Theory course was actually videotaped in the 70’s and now exists online, and it’s true ! It’s kind of awesome, but also a little bit depressing, like when someone … Continue reading ?

Physics and the Earth

As I delve deeper into the context of the physics I’m doing at the moment, all I seem to find is more and more information about the really serious state that the oceans are in.   I’m not sure whether this … Continue reading ?

LHC Fever! (And more bad science journalism)

The LHC has turned on! W00t! Last night a few of us had an LHC “party” where we stayed up until 3 am to watch the webcast of the machine turning on. Of course, the webcast didn’t work, and we … Continue reading ?

What is String Theory Good For (Part I)?

This is, I guess, my foray into the bloggy string wars (or the stringy blog wars?). But not really. I just want to give you some of my brief perspectives on why string theory is kind of a big deal. … Continue reading ?

A wave is more than its equation

When I first started at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography a year ago, I was a complete novice when it came to ocean-related activities.   California thrives on these things and I stuck out as a rather puzzled (and pale) … Continue reading ?

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