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053/366: Mount Rubidoux

Having successfully given two talks in Sacramento, I’m spending a few days visiting my sister in Riverside, CA, because it’s not often I’m on the West Coast at all. She had to work this morning, so I went on a bit of a hike up and down Mt. Rubidoux, where the city has built a…

052/366: Fire Sheep

Having a slow morning here in Sacramento, because yesterday started before 4am and ended after 1am, according to my internal clock. This provided the opportunity to take some nicer pictures than just the obligatory hotel-window shot, so I went for a walk on the bike path by the American River. Where I saw Fire Sheep:…

051/366: OBParkingLot

I’m in California for a few days, to give a couple of talks in Sacramento. I’m told that it’s traditional to commemorate such travel by taking a photo of a hotel parking lot, so here you go: There are, in fact, palm trees around here, just not any that are visible from the hotel room…

Where's my hoverboard?

Real, levitating hoverboards do exist, thanks to quantum mechanics and the interplay between superconductors and magnetic fields. Today is the future.  Specifically, it’s the day to which Marty McFly and Emmett “Doc” Brown travel inShow More Summary

Could cosmic megastructures be intruders from another world?

On a large scale the cosmos should be plain, but it's not. Windows into other dimensions could explain mysterious objects billions of light years across

It’s Time

Ok, So I've finished prepping my presentation of detailed recipes for how to make time machines. (Sorry, but it does not involve any of the elements depicted in the sketch above.) It is for a special event tonight celebrating the fact that this is the day Marty McFly came forward in time to in Back to the Future II. Show More Summary

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics is lean, lucid and enchanting

Carlo Rovelli's brief book was a surprise bestseller in his native Italy, and the English edition shows us all why

How redshift colours our view of the history of the universe

Redshift makes objects at different distances appear in different hues – allowing us to reconstruct how dark matter and energy have shaped cosmic evolution

Why we can’t work out where everything is in the universe

Mapping far-off galaxies is essential to understanding dark energy's influence on cosmic evolution – but the more we look, the harder it gets

050/366: Physics Toy

When we were in DC back in July, SteelyKid purchased a toy Newton’s cradle. And I already owned a 1000fps video camera, so it was inevitable that the one would end up in front of the other… I spent a while this afternoon making high-speed video of the toy clicking back and forth, but didn’t…

Gravity on the Horizon!

Had to nip over to Joshua Tree National Park yesterday, for my sins. Why? Well, gravity, of course. I can't tell you the full details, but I was helping out the folks from the BBC on a documentary program (for the series Horizon, which...Show More Summary

Symmetry gets a new look

Welcome to the Symmetry redesign! Notice something different? Today marks the launch of a brand new Symmetry magazine. We’ve simplified and updated our webpages to help you find what you’re looking for, to guide your attention to our...Show More Summary

Frightfully smart jack-o’-lanterns

These physics-themed jack-o’-lanterns come with extra brains. There are no tricks, only treats, when you add science to your annual pumpkin-carving festivities. That’s why we at Symmetry created designs featuring spooky versions of important...Show More Summary

Q&A with Fermilab's first artist-in-residence

Symmetry sits down with Lindsay Olson as she wraps up a year of creating art inspired by particle physics. How did you end up at Fermilab? LO: In March 2014 I had an exhibition of my work at North Park College. Several members of the Fermilab art committee attended my talk. Show More Summary

049/366: Frozen Fractals

We’ve had a serious cold snap over the last few days, with temperatures dropping from the 60F kind of range down to 40F. And with that comes, well: Happily, it’s going to warm back up over the next couple of days, but it won’t be long before I need to extend nearly every morning’s routine…

The Evolution of a Sad Balloon

A few years back, I did a couple of posts on the physics of a sad balloon (that is, a helium balloon that can no longer lift itself up to the ceiling), the first on simple buoyancy, the second on how long it takes for the helium to leak out. These were based on only…

Who Are You People? Now With SCIENCE!

It’s been a while since I did it, but on a few occasions in the past, I’ve done posts here titled “Who Are You People?” asking readers to comment and say something about themselves. This is not remotely scientific, as a survey of blog readership, though. Happily, an actual scientist is stepping up for this:…

Ordinary Words Will Do

Izabella Laba, a noted mathematician at the University of British Columbia, recently posted some tweets that used me as a bad, cautionary example for how “STEM faculty should be less contemptuous of social sciences.”  Here was the offending comment of mine, from the epic Walter Lewin thread last fall: [W]hy not dispense with the empirically-empty […]

048/366: Reading Race

Every Sunday, I take the kids down to the Schenectady Greenmarket, which from May-October is held outdoors, on the streets around City Hall. This puts it right next to our local independent bookstore, The Open Door, which is kind of popular with the kids: We have a standing agreement that they can each get one…

047/366: Late Bloomers

Another Saturday full of kid stuff, chiefly a rather brisk soccer game– around 45F at game time, with a stiff breeze. It was interesting to see how different kids reacted to the cold. One or two got hyper, and ran around crazily to stay warm, while some others just disengaged from the game. And a…

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