Category Archives: Uncategorized

Commencement 2017

Congratulations to the class of 2017! We caught up with a number of our senior physics majors for a group picture in the “organized chaos” following the commencement ceremony. Best wishes to all our graduates in your future endeavours, and … Continue reading

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19th Century Foreground, 20th Century Background

Although some early aviation aficionados allege other flights (or hops) preceding the Wright brothers’ experiments at Kitty Hawk on 1903 December 17, the Wright Flyer did fly four times that day, including a final flight nearly one minute long, with … Continue reading

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Rubik’s Cube Puzzles

As a kid, I enjoyed solving the “15 puzzle”, a sliding puzzle consisting of a 4×4 grid of 15 squares. However, I was amazed at a kind of 3D analogue of the 15 puzzle: Ernö Rubik’s 1974 masterpiece, which is … Continue reading

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The Flight of the Dragon

Last week, SpaceX conducted a successful pad abort test of its innovative Crew Dragon spacecraft. Powered by hypergolic monomethylhydrazine CH3(NH)NH2 fuel and nitrogen tetroxide N2O2 oxidizer, which ignite on contact, the Super Draco engines accelerated Dragon from 0 to 100 mph in … Continue reading

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The Unveiling of Pluto

As a kid, I poured over diagrams in Popular Science magazine describing possible Grand Tours of the outer solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) made possible by a rare alignment of the planets. Unfortunately, budget cuts reduced the Grand … Continue reading

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Strange Nonchaotic Stars

On the second day of my University of Hawai’i sabbatical, I began to work with space telescope data that would invigorate the study of variable stars and justify my NASA T-shirts. While the brightness of stars like the sun is nearly constant, the brightness … Continue reading

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