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Course Report: Intro Mechanics Spring 2015

I’ve been pretty quiet about educational matters of late, for the simple reason that I was too busy teaching to say much. The dust having settled a bit, though, I thought I would put some notes here about what I did this past term, and what worked. I had two sections of the introductory Newtonian…

Naddy

Yesterday, an interesting thing happened while I was out in my neighbourhood walking my son for a good hour or more (covered, in a stroller - I was hoping he'd get some sleep), visiting various shops, running errands. Before describing it, I offer two bits of background information as (possibly relevant?) context. Show More Summary

My Week in Waterloo

I spent the last few days in Ontario, attending the Convergence meeting at the Perimeter Institute. This brought a bunch of Perimeter alumni and other big names together for a series of talks and discussions about the current state and future course of physics. My role at this was basically to impersonate a journalist, and…

Exploring dark energy with robots

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument will produce a 3-D space map using a ‘hive’ of robots. Five thousand pencil-shaped robots, densely nested in a metal hive, whir to life with a precise, dizzying choreography. Small U-shaped heads...Show More Summary

“Can Quantum Computing Reveal the True Meaning of Quantum Mechanics?”

I now have a 3500-word post on that question up at NOVA’s “Nature of Reality” blog.  If you’ve been reading Shtetl-Optimized religiously for the past decade (why?), there won’t be much new to you there, but if not, well, I hope you like it!  Comments are welcome, either here or there.  Thanks so much to Kate Becker at NOVA for […]

Speed Dating for Science!

Last night was amusing. I was at the YouTubeLA space with 6 other scientists from various fields, engaging with an audience of writers and other creators for YouTube, TV, film, etc. It was an event hosted by the Science and Entertainment...Show More Summary

Seeing in gamma rays

The latest sky maps produced by Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope combine seven years of observations. Maps from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope literally show the universe in a different light. Today Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT)...Show More Summary

Bringing neutrino research back to India

The India-based Neutrino Observatory will provide a home base for Indian particle physicists. Pottipuram, a village in southern India, is mostly known for its farming. Goats graze on the mountains and fields yield modest harvests ofShow More Summary

Get ready for the leap second – it could be the last one ever

On Tuesday night the clocks will stand still at 23:59:60 to keep our time in sync with the universe. But does our high-speed world demand a new solution?

LARP completes first successful test of High-Luminosity LHC coil

This article appeared in Fermilab Today on June 22, 2015. Last month, a group collaborating across four national laboratories completed the first successful tests of a superconducting coil in preparation for the future high-luminosity upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider, or HL-LHC. These tests indicate that the magnet design may be adequate for its intended

Anomalies Revisited

Some of the talks at Strings 2015 have now appeared online, and one of them I found quite fascinating, Witten’s Anomalies Revisited. Some of his motivation comes from string perturbation theory and M-theory, but the questions he addresses are fundamental, … Continue reading ?

Convergence

Another conference that starts today is the Convergence conference at the Perimeter Institute. The concept is explained by Neil Turok here. His point of view is one I’m very much in sympathy with: Turok explains that the “large bandwagon” of … Continue reading ?

Strings 2015

Strings 2015 gets underway in Bangalore tomorrow, and so far the press coverage I’ve seen consists just of two articles that aren’t what I’d guess string theorists would like to see: In The theory that may have been stringing scientists … Continue reading ?

Father’s Day 2015

Act I: STEELYKID and THE PIP: Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! DADDY: Aww, that’s sweet. So, what are you going to make me for breakfast? STEELYKID and THE PIP: What? DADDY: It’s father’s day, right? So you guys should be cooking breakfast for me. STEELYKID and THE PIP: No!!!! THE PIP: We can’t cook breakfast for…

FCRC Highlights

By popular request, here are some highlights from this week’s FCRC conference in Portland, Oregon: The edit distance between two strings means the minimum number of insertions, deletions, and replacements needed to convert one string to the other: for example, SHTETL and SHETLAND have an edit distance of 4.  Edit distance has major, obvious applications […]

Tiny Forces, Artificial Materials, and Wobbling Stars: Physics Post Round-Up

I’ve been really busy with year-end wrap-up stuff, but have also posted a bunch of stuff at Forbes. which I’ve fallen down on my obligation to promote here… So, somewhat belatedly, here’s a collection of physics-y stuff that I’ve written recently: — Using Atoms To Measure Tiny Forces: A post reporting on some very cool…

Screen Junkies: Science and Jurassic World

So the episode I mentioned is out! It's a lot of fun, and there's so very much that we talked about that they could not fit into the episode. See below. It is all about Jurassic World - a huge box-office hit. If you have not seen it yet, and don't want specific spoilers, watch out for where I write the word spoilers in capitals, and read no further. Show More Summary

Mathematician to know: Emmy Noether

Noether's theorem is a thread woven into the fabric of the science. We are able to understand the world because it is predictable. If we drop a rubber ball, it falls down rather than flying up. But more specifically: if we drop the same...Show More Summary

Calling Shenanigans 

I hadn't realized that I knew some of the journalists who were at the event at which Tim Hunt made his negative-stereotype-strengthening remarks. I trust their opinion and integrity quite a bit, and so I'm glad to hear reports from them about what they witnessed. Show More Summary

Chasing shadows: How long can we keep looking for dark matter?

We've known we need dark matter since the 1930s, but still haven't found it. The search can't go on forever

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