Category: Physics

  • We Are Going

    After half a century confined to low-Earth orbit, and as soon as late next year, humans will once again leave Earth and voyage to Moon. The reality of this exciting adventure crystallized earlier this month when NASA announced the diverse and inspiring Artemis II crew: Clockwise from left in the photo below are Christina Koch,…

  • Generalizing Coulomb’s Law

    The forces between two electric charges in arbitrary motion are complicated by velocity, acceleration, and time-delay effects. The forces need not even lie along the line joining the two charges! Suppose a source charge is at position with velocity and acceleration , and a test charge is at position with velocity and acceleration . Let…

  • Wooster Physics Alumni at Kent Displays

    Three Wooster physics alumni who all work at Kent Displays, Inc. returned to campus last Thursday to share some info about the physics of liquid crystals as well as some of their personal journeys to Wooster and beyond. See more information over at the NEWS page on the Wooster Physics website!

  • 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 Science on 1913 January 13 and published as “A Laboratory Method of Demonstrating the Earth’s Rotation”,…

  • 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 pulse on a small gold cylinder that converted the incident ultraviolet light into x-rays and caused an enclosed…

  • 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 makes the inertial space orbit non-Keplerian: an ellipse centered — not focussed — on Earth.…

  • 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 stuffed animal whose first float announces the free-fall of Earth orbit. Was that a plush Einstein doll?…

  • 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 DART transmitted, truncated by the impact itself! The goal is to measurably change the speed…

  • 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 in the Focus Issue, From Chemical Oscillations to Applications of Nonlinear Dynamics: Dedicated to Richard…

  • 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 and I began studying the architecture of daylighting terrestrial buildings for energy efficiency as part…

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