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Various News

Various news about the usual topics: Natalie Wolchover at Quanta magazine keeps coming up with great, in-depth stories about interesting new topics in physics that are getting no attention elsewhere. Her latest is about the universality of the Tracy-Widom distribution. … Continue reading ?

Top quark still raising questions

Why are scientists still interested in the heaviest fundamental particle nearly 20 years after its discovery? “What happens to a quark deferred?” the poet Langston Hughes may have asked, had he been a physicist. If scientists lost interest in a particle after its discovery, much of what it could show us about the universe would remain hidden. Show More Summary

Particle Physics in Western Mass.

That’s “Mass” as in Massachusetts, not the stuff associated with the Higgs field… specifically, North Adams, MA, where I’ll be this Saturday night, October 25th, at the Secret Science Club screening of Particle Fever. This will be at the MASS MoCA, tickets here. The Secret Science Club is a regular gathering in New York City…

Cute Kids Weekend

It’s been a brutally busy couple of weeks here, what with reading folders for the job searches we have going on, trying to keep on top of my class, and multiple day-care closings for the Jewish holidays. But the kids are still very cute, as you can see from the above caricatures of The Pip…

John Stewart Bell Prize: Nominations Wanted

In odd-numbered years (by the Gregorian calendar, anyway), the University of Toronto offers the John Stewart Bell Prize for Research on Fundamental Issues in Quantum Mechanics and Their Applications. This is not connected to the Jon Stewart of the Daily Show– he’s purely classical, as you can tell from the fact that there’s no “h”…

Entangled States at TED-Ed

The fourth video I wrote for TED-Ed is now live: Einstein’s Brilliant Mistake: Entangled States. The title is not just an Elvis Costello reference, but gets at the fact that while the Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen paper was wrong in that the local hidden variable theories they favored are impossible, it turned out to be…

The Copernicus Complex by Caleb Scharf

I enjoyed Caleb Scharf’s previous book, Gravity’s Engines a good deal, so I was happy to get email from a publicist offering me his latest. I’m a little afraid that my extreme distraction of late hasn’t really treated it fairly, but then again, the fact that I finished it at all in my current state…

A few quick announcements

I gave a new survey talk at Yale, entitled “When Exactly Do Quantum Computers Provide a Speedup?”  Here are the PowerPoint slides.  Thanks so much to Rob Schoelkopf for inviting me, and to everyone else at Yale for an awesome visit. Aephraim Steinberg asks me to announce that the call for nominations for the 2015 […]

Schrödinger’s Cat at TED-Ed

The third of the videos I wrote for TED-Ed is now live: Schrödinger’s Cat: A Thought Experiment in Quantum Mechanics.This is using basically the same argument I outlined in this post, but with awesome animation courtesy of Agota Vegso. I’m impressed by how close the images that ended up in the video are to the…

Jokes for nerds

Webcomic artist Zach Weinersmith fuels ‘Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’ with grad student humor and almost half of a physics degree. Zach Weinersmith, creator of popular webcomic “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal,” doesn’t know all...Show More Summary

Relativity and Baseball

It’s baseball playoff time, so sport shows are full of one of the great mysteries of the season, exemplified by this.gif (from SBNation): No, not “Raul Ibanez, really?” but “How can he make the ball go that far?” After all, even very good outfielders are lucky to reach home plate with a throw from…

Q&A: Katherine Freese

The new director of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics talks neutrinos, women in science, and the hunt for dark matter. Katherine Freese admits she didn’t do well in her first college physics course, but her impressive resume...Show More Summary

One Does Not Simply Science Into Mordor

I recently shot a bunch of video of myself in front of a green screen, for something that will be revealed in due time. Of course, if you have green-screen footage of yourself, you’re pretty much obliged to do something silly with it, so here’s a quick GIMP-ing of a still from the video (also…

Big Draw LA

The Big Draw LA event downtown today (in Grand Park) was a lot of fun! There were all sort of stations of activity, and lots of people were jointing in with drawing in various media, including making masks (so drawings and cut-outs) and making drawings on the concrete plaza area using strips of tape, which I thought was rather clever. Show More Summary

‘CERN People’ series tells it like it is

A new video series about scientists at CERN pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a physicist during a pivotal time in the field. American director and documentary film maker Liz Mermin has traveled from beauty schools in Afghanistan to Bollywood movie sets in India filming people at their work. Show More Summary

Uncertain Dots 24

If you like arbitrary numerical signifiers, this is the point where we can start to talk about plural dozens of Uncertain Dots hangouts. As usual, Rhett and I chat about a wide range of stuff, including the way we always say we’re going to recruit a guest to join us, and then forget to do…

Expo Line Chain Lady

So I looked up from my notes and saw this striking person in a remarkable, and presumably deliberately forthright, amount of chain-based jewellery. She had a heavy looking gold chain that started from one ear and stretch over to the other, with the slack resting on her chest. Show More Summary

Science Hack Day

Astrophysicists inspire space-related projects at a 24-hour hack-a-thon in San Francisco. As the space flick Gravity plays on large monitors in the open office space of a San Francisco tech company, nearly 175 people fight off sleepShow More Summary

Make Your Mark!

You know I'm a fan of mark-making. I think it is an important tool, as well as a fun thing to do. Taking the time to draw an idea, or your surroundings, brings a certain pace to the whole relationship that enhances it. You really have...Show More Summary

Nobel Prize for a Bright Idea!

The Nobel Prize in Physics this year is to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura, for the blue LED. Seems like a small thing, but it is hugely important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the issue of producing energy efficient light sources for everyday use. Show More Summary

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