Author Archives: John F. Lindner

About John F. Lindner

John F. Lindner was born in Sleepy Hollow New York and educated at the University of Vermont and Caltech. He is a professor of physics and astronomy at The College of Wooster. He has enjoyed multiple yearlong sabbaticals at Georgia Tech, University of Portland, University of Hawai'i, and North Carolina State University. His research interests include nonlinear dynamics, celestial mechanics, and variable stars.

Losing Betelgeuse

At my computer Tuesday evening, I receive a message from a university physics chat that is both thrilling and chilling: LIGO + Virgo report a “burst” gravitational wave event, possibly due to a core-collapse supernova (or a binary collision where … Continue reading

Posted in Astronomy | Leave a comment

Continental Bridge

I remember looking at a classroom map of Earth and thinking the continents seem like puzzle pieces, especially north and south America in the west and Europe and Africa in the east. I mentally fit them together. Later I learned … Continue reading

Posted in Physics, Travel | Leave a comment

Table of Nuclides

As of 2019, we have identified or synthesized 118 distinct elements with Z protons, but about 2900 distinct nuclides with N neutrons (where atom is to element as nucleus is to nuclide). The start of my version of the table … Continue reading

Posted in Physics | Leave a comment


Fifty years ago, Apollo 12 landed within sight of another spacecraft, a dramatic demonstration of pinpoint landing capability. While Dick Gordon orbited Luna in the command module Yankee Clipper, Pete Conrad and Al Bean left the lunar module Intrepid and … Continue reading

Posted in Space Exploration | Leave a comment

Relaxing Fermat

In 1637, while reading a copy of Diophantus’s Arithmetica, Pierre de Fermat famously scribbled “Cubum autem in duos cubos, aut quadratoquadratum in duos quadratoquadratos & generaliter nullam in infinitum ultra quadratum potestatem in duos eiusdem nominis fas est dividere cuius … Continue reading

Posted in Mathematics | Leave a comment

Stainless Steel Starship

Welders in a Texas swamp have built a starship. But don’t bet against SpaceX. Starship is a prototype upper stage for a next-generation, fully reusable, two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle designed to enable the human exploration of the solar system and the … Continue reading

Posted in Adventure, Space Exploration | Leave a comment

After the Moonwalk

Iconic is Neil Armstrong’s photograph of Buzz Aldrin during the first moon walk, with Armstrong reflected in Aldrin’s visor. Much less well-known is this pair of photographs taken just after the moon walk. To my eyes, Armstrong seems exhausted but … Continue reading

Posted in Adventure, Space Exploration | Leave a comment

“Contact Light”

Our TV is broken, so Aunt Nora invites us to her apartment. (Aunt Nora isn’t really our aunt, but she introduced our parents to each other, so that’s what we call her.) My brother Jim and I lie on the … Continue reading

Posted in Adventure, Space Exploration | Leave a comment

Wooster Epicycles

A vector is the sum of its components, a mechanical vibration is a combination of its normal mode motions, a quantum state is a superposition of its eigenstates, and any “nice” function is a Fourier sum of real or complex sinusoids, … Continue reading

Posted in Mathematics, Physics | Leave a comment

Redefining SI

Today the SI (Système international d’unités) base units are redefined. The following are now exact. Memorize these numbers! Cs-133 transition frequency constant  defines the second. Then light speed constant  defines the meter. Then Planck’s constant  defines the kilogram. Then electron charge constant  defines … Continue reading

Posted in Physics | Leave a comment