Category Archives: Physics

Novel Math, Nobel Physics

When I was a kid I used to read Scientific American at the local library. I loved Martin Gardner‘s Mathematical Games column, and I vividly remember his description of Roger Penrose‘s then recent discovery of two shapes that force a … Continue reading

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Cookie Cutter

Cookie dough in a cookie factory moves on a conveyor belt at a constant relativistic speed. A circular cutter stamps out cookies as the dough rushes by beneath it. In the factory frame, the dough is length contracted along the … Continue reading

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Flying Silo

Yesterday, SpaceX successfully flew a full-sized Starship tank-section prototype at its launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. Standing thirty meters tall without its nosecone, weighing one to two hundred tons with methalox propellant, and made from stainless steel, Starship was … Continue reading

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Hot & Cold Electricity

As I kid, I used to help my dad with electrical wiring projects (among other things). I learned that home electricity was “hot & cold”, like water in pipes — or at least, that’s how I understood the explanation. Later … Continue reading

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Hamiltonian Flow

Newton wrote, “My brain never hurt more than in my studies of the moon [and Earth and Sun]”. Unsurprising sentiment, as the seemingly simple three-body problem is intrinsically intractable and practically unpredictable. … If chaos is a nonlinear “super power”, … Continue reading

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Summer Highlight

Since the mid 1990s, a highlight of my year has been the Physics Department’s National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program. Our research assistants come from Wooster and from all over the United States, as detailed in the … Continue reading

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Higgs Without Molasses

Although almost all ordinary mass effectively arises from the kinetic and binding energy of quarks and gluons bound to protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei, the Higgs mechanism does endow some particles like quarks and weakons with intrinsic masses. Here … Continue reading

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Meeting 100+ years of experience in nonlinear dynamics

I met two scientists for my BZ-history project with a combined age of 177 years. It was a great pleasure and honor to talk to them.

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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

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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

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