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Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of Freedom

The boundless dimensions of math and physics

Book Review: Our Magnetic Earth, by Ronald Merrill

A magnetic sense is now well documented in dozens of animal species. It turns out that tracking the geomagnetic field—that same invisible thing that points compasses—is handy for life, in lots of situations.

December 28, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

The Reawakening of X-Ray Delta One

--Come in, Dave. Dave, come in. Do you read me, Dave? Please come in, Dave. --Wh… where am I? --I am glad you are waking up, Dave. Your vital signs were fairly normal but I was having difficulties reawakening you.

December 24, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Waiting for the Higgs, With the Man Who Built the LHC

  Lyn Evans led the design and construction of CERN's Large Hadron Collider They call it “the machine.”Thousands of physicists working at the LHC are looking for the Higgs boson and other new particles, and many of them have contributed to building the gigantic detectors that are taking most of the media limelight these days.But humming 100 meters under the Franco-Swiss border is the apparatus that makes it all possible.

December 12, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Where's My Higgs? LHC Physicist Joe Lykken Speaks

On December 13, CERN will release the results of a new data analysis in the search for the Higgs boson. at the LHC. As I was reporting my article, which appeared today, on December 7 I spoke on the phone with Joe Lykken, a Fermilab staff theoretical physicist.

December 8, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

The Man Who Put the "Big" in "Big Bang": Alan Guth on Inflation

On the night of December 6, 1979--32 years ago today--Alan Guth had the “spectacular realization” that would soon turn cosmology on its head. He imagined a mind-bogglingly brief event, at the very beginning of the big bang, during which the entire universe expanded exponentially, going from microscopic to cosmic size.

December 6, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cosmology s Best-Kept Secret

How far is each of these galaxies? Appearances may deceive. In my previous post, I described the little-known and somewhat counterintuitive idea that objects in the distant universe appear larger and larger the farther they are, in a reversal of the usual rules of perspective.

November 25, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

The Cosmic Magnifying Lens

Objects may be closer than they appear; in the distant universe, objects are, in a sense, even farther than they appear The observable universe is one big, giant magnifying lens.At large distances, objects appear to be larger than their true size, and the farther they are, the bigger they look.

November 6, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

On the Physics Nobels, The Atlantic Gets Dark Energy All Wrong

Let's keep it within the galaxy, Jim The piece run by The Atlantic last week on the Nobel Prizes for Physics, sadly, contained a number of misleading or inaccurate statements on physics and cosmology.Gregg Easterbrook, the journalist who wrote it, has a storied past as a science writer.

October 16, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

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