Category Archives: Physics

The mystery of the magnetic train

This past week, thanks to Laughing Squid and other sources, a lot of people watched and were amazed by this simple demonstration of electromagnetism in action. It is billed as the “world’s simplest electric train,” and it is almost certainly … Continue reading

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Paris: City of lights and cosmic rays

This post of mine originally appeared on the Scientific American guest blog some time ago.  Considering it has been three years, and it’s always been one of my favorite pieces of writing, I thought it was time to “bring it … Continue reading

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Physics demonstrations: Faraday disk

I’m prepping a new course to teach this semester: undergraduate Electromagnetism II!  I’m trying to put together some nice simple demos to illustrate principles in the class, and I’ll blog some of those that work and are interesting. When Michael … Continue reading

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Cloaking from earthquakes?

There has been a lot of excitement among researchers about the science of invisibility over the past decade, and a variety of designs of invisibility cloaks have been suggested since the groundbreaking 2006 papers.  I’ve talked a lot about invisibility … Continue reading

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A Michael Faraday primer for COSMOS!

I’ve really been enjoying the new version of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” though this Sunday’s coming episode has me more excited than any other!  Titled “The Electric Boy,” the episode will focus on Michael Faraday (1791-1867), one of the most … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 6 Comments

Death by ball lightning

Lightning has been a source of fear and mystery through the entire history of mankind.  Violent, unpredictable, and potentially deadly, it was often seen as an indication of divine judgment or displeasure.  Now we know it is a natural electrical … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Horror, Physics | 8 Comments

How many quarks would a charm quark charm if a charm quark could charm quarks?

Fundamental physics is having quite a spectacular season.  In mid-March, the collaborators of the BICEP2 telescope announced the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, answering a long-standing question about the beginnings of the universe. Now, on the heels of that … Continue reading

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