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 an emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at The College of Wooster and a visiting professor at North Carolina State University. He has enjoyed multiple yearlong sabbaticals at Georgia Tech, University of Portland, University of Hawai'i, and NCSU. His research interests include nonlinear dynamics, celestial mechanics, and neural networks.

Astronomy Christmas Gift

I awoke early this Christmas morning to watch the successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. I remember the genesis of the telescope a quarter of a century ago when it was called the Next Generation Space Telescope. (The … Continue reading

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Burning Plasma

In August I received an urgent email from my brother with the title “Fusion”. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) had created a burning plasma — a star on Earth — a major milestone on the long road to controlled nuclear fusion. … Continue reading

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Part Science, Part Art, Part Luck

Launched just last month, Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter’s trojan asteroids, rocky swarms that orbit about 60 degrees ahead and behind Jupiter in its orbit. Hal Levison, Lucy’s Principal Investigator, has described Lucy’s complicated trajectory, which includes an Earth … Continue reading

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4D Unknot

In four dimensions, you can’t tie your shoelaces — because 4D knots don’t work. Any 1D curve in 4D space can be continuously deformed to the unit circle, which is an unknot. The looping animation below demonstrates how to undo a … Continue reading

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Punch it, SpaceX

She’s not looking up at the sky; she’s looking down at it. I am excitedly following the Inspiration4 spaceflight and its diverse all-private crew of Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Christopher Sembroski, and Hayley Arceneaux. Orbiting higher than any humans this millennium and carrying … Continue reading

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Dandelin Spheres

In 1609, Johannes Kepler first described how planets orbit the sun in ellipses. Kepler understood an ellipse as both the locus of points whose distances from two foci sum to a constant and as the intersection of a cone and a plane. But how … Continue reading

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Grad Schools

Wooster physics graduates do many things after Wooster, including graduate work. Below is a map of some of the graduate schools they have attended, one dimension of the influence of our department. If you are a recent Wooster physics graduate … Continue reading

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For Teague

Sadly and unexpectedly Wooster physics senior Teague Curless ’22 died yesterday. I was fortunate to teach Teague some physics, especially in my Nonlinear Dynamics class last spring. Teague’s semester project beautifully illustrated chaos in a double pendulum — a pendulum swinging … Continue reading

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21st Century Skyscraper

Recently at its Boca Chica launch site, SpaceX stacked a Starship on a Superheavy booster to briefly form history’s largest rocket, dwarfing the Apollo Saturn V. Both a fit-check and a statement, SpaceX released the photograph below in black & … Continue reading

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Spinors

Fermions like electrons, protons, and neutrons inhabit a 720° world: 360° rotations negate their quantum states, but 720° rotations restore them. A simple macroscopic model of such spinors is an arrow translating on a Möbius strip: as the center circle rotates, … Continue reading

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