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Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of Freedom

The boundless dimensions of math and physics

Superluminal Neutrinos Would Wimp Out En Route

[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...

October 2, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Archimedes and Euclid? Like String Theory versus Freshman Calculus

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...

September 20, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Why There's No Such Thing as North and South

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...

September 12, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Galactic Challenge Part III: The "Easy" Solutions

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...

September 12, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Fox Commentator Distorts Physics

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.

August 11, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

Project Polymath: Collaborative Mathematics through Blogs

[This article was originally posted on 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...

August 10, 2011 — Davide Castelvecchi

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