Category Archives: Physics

The Hunt for Vulcan, by Thomas Levenson

Some of the most interesting stories in the history of science are those where investigations take a wrong turn.  Scientific progress is filled with red herrings, failed assumptions, and wild guesses that rarely make it into the science textbooks.  When … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 2 Comments

Light, by Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke

I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of popular science books, so I’ve recently been doing an intense amount of reading.  A lot of my focus has been on reading books by people I’m acquainted with … Continue reading

Posted in Optics, Physics | 1 Comment

Breaking the Chains of Gravity, by Amy Shira Teitel

Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to a stunning array of achievements in space exploration, such as the Juno Mission (inserted into orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016), New Horizons (passed Pluto on July 14, 2015), and Rosetta (landed … Continue reading

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Optics by hot air balloon?

The first in a (hopefully) series of posts inspired by topics covered in my upcoming textbook on singular optics. Crewed balloon rides have a surprisingly large role in the history of science.  The first untethered balloon flight was performed in Paris on November … Continue reading

Posted in Optics, Physics | 2 Comments

1975: Neutrons go right round, baby, right round

Some time ago, I wrote about a fascinating 1975 experiment in which the relationship between quantum mechanics and gravity was tested.  The experiment was made possible by the new — at the time — technique of neutron interferometry, in which the wave … Continue reading

Posted in History of science, Physics | 9 Comments

Beautiful equations of math and physics: my picks

A few days ago, the BBC introduced a series of posts in which they asked mathematicians and physicists to share their favorite equations.  It’s a fun list, and the original post can be found here. One of the equations selected … Continue reading

Posted in Mathematics, Physics | 11 Comments

1801: Fraunhofer gets research funding in the worst possible way

It is rather unsettling to think that scientific careers are often made by simple luck.  For example, eventual Nobel Prize winner Albert Michelson (1852-1931) only got an education thanks to the literal last-minute intervention of none other than the President … Continue reading

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