Category Archives: Physics

Compton Generator

Long before he won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and while still a Wooster undergraduate, Arthur Compton realized a third way to demonstrate Earth’s spin (after pendulums and gyroscopes). Compton reported his results in a manuscript submitted to the journal … Continue reading

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Perseverance, Ignition, Breakeven

Overcoming decades of enormous physics and engineering challenges, and despite persistent pessimism, skepticism, and criticism, the National Ignition Facility has achieved an historic milestone for controlled nuclear fusion, a target energy gain factor of . Last week, NIF focussed the world’s most powerful laser … Continue reading

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Distant Retrograde Orbit

The Artemis 1 mission’s Orion spacecraft has successfully entered and exited a distant retrograde orbit about Moon. DRO is a stable and easily accessible orbit requiring a low velocity change . In DRO, Earth‘s non-negligible gravity contributes to a 3-body problem that … Continue reading

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Zero-G Indicator

When Crew 5 rocketed to orbit last week aboard the SpaceX Dragon “Endurance” bound for the International Space Station, I was curious to see their zero-gravity indicator. A tradition SpaceX crews have adopted from Russian cosmonauts, the zero-g indicator is usually a … Continue reading

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For the dinosaurs!

The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program, but we do. I just watched live the first kinetic-impact asteroid-redirection test as NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft collided with the asteroid-moon Dimorphos of the asteroid Didymos. Below is the last image … Continue reading

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Science, serendipity, and coincidence

As part of my science history project, the article “Science, serendipity, coincidence, and the Oregonator at the University of Oregon, 1969–1974” has been published in Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science. It’s especially exciting because it’s the Feature article … Continue reading

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Alien Suns Reversing in Exoplanet Skies

Not only can suns stand still in the sky, from some exoplanets their motion can apparently reverse! Wooster physics-math double majors Xinchen (Ariel) Xie ’21 and Hwan (Michelle) Bae ’19 and I just published an article elucidating these apparent solar reversals. Michelle … Continue reading

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Black Hole Above the Fold

When grocery shopping, I normally just glance at the newspapers in the newsstand. However, this morning, I was excited to see “above the fold” of the Wall Street Journal a large reproduction of the first image of the supermassive black hole … Continue reading

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Slide Rule Examples

Slide rules were widely used in engineering, science, and mathematics until the early 1970s, including during the Gemini and Apollo space programs. Although rendered largely obsolete by the advent of inexpensive electronic calculators, their descendants continue to have specialized applications, such … Continue reading

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Diffraction Limited

Yesterday, Webb optical telescope element manager Lee Feinberg said “We made the right telescope” while reporting that its focus has reached the  diffraction limit of 0.7 arcseconds at the infrared wavelength of 2 microns. (For comparison, from Earth, Luna subtends … Continue reading

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