The chemical elements—the varieties of atoms existing in nature and even some that are manmade—are an endless source of fascination.
[Note: October 5 update and clarification added at the bottom] Neutrinos that go beyond light speed? Not so fast, say two theoretical physicists.In a terse, peremptory-sounding paper posted online on September 29, Andrew Cohen and Sheldon Glashow of Boston University calculate that any neutrinos traveling faster than light would radiate energy away, leaving a wake of slower particles analogous to the sonic boom of a supersonic fighter jet...
The archetype of the science genius didn’t use to be Albert Einstein. For centuries, the quintessential irreverent, visionary scientist, immersed in a world of his own making to the point of forgetting to put on his clothes, was instead an ancient Greek mathematician...
The human mind often confuses familiarity with understanding.You've learned the basics of a field. You've memorized the rules and used them so many times they have become second nature, or "common sense"--which means that you have stopped asking yourself why they should be true...
Scores of readers responded to my Galactic Challenge (proposed in Part I of this series), with lots of cool ideas. The challenge was to explain our concept of left and right to far away aliens; or to explain it to Martians over the phone, as Richard Feynman put it and as I describe in Part II.Here I will review the solutions that came up and I will discuss how one could implement them in practice...
In a recent post, I proposed a riddle on handedness and how one could communicate one's notions of left and right to faraway aliens.
It was a dark and stormy night in New York City, so why was I instead slouching on my couch in sunny Rome? Because I was concocting a weather report-anecdote-question-postural opening for this blog post...
The concept of handedness—of left and right, say, or of clockwise and anti-clockwise—is deceptively simple. In fact, I think it is among the most subtle in all of science and mathematics...
This is not a climate science blog, nor is it a political or media critique blog. But it does cover physics, so I'd like to get some physics facts straight.
[This article was originally posted on ScientificAmerican.com on March 17, 2010 and I am shamelessly recycling it here] In the mid-20th century the encyclopedic works of French mathematician Nicolas Bourbaki traced every mathematical concept back to the subject’s foundations in the theory of sets—the stuff of Venn diagrams—and changed the face of his field...
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