White Men Can Jump. Sort Of.

A couple of guys goaded me into trying to dunk at the lunchtime basketball game today. “You’ve lost a lot of weight,” they said, knowing I’m a sucker for flattery, “You’ve got to be close.” So I tried, and much to my surprise, succeeded. It wasn’t what you’d call Jordanesque– I barely got the ball […]

Classic Edition: Advice to New Faculty

Classes for the Fall term start next week, which means that things are starting to gear up on campus. We’ve been sent our class rosters, and lists of new freshman advisees, and have started to have meetings about team-taught courses and department policies and the like. And, of course, the new faculty hired for this […]

Pluto Is Not in Genesis

The American Institutes of Physics run an occasionally updated news feed, Physics News Updates, that I have in my RSS subscriptions. Yesterday, for some reason, it coughed up a squib about last week’s Pluto news, which starts: Just as in the Bible Adam achieved dominion over the objects of the earth by naming them, so […]

Real Clock Tutorial: Atomic Clocks

In yesterday’s post, I outlined the history of clocks starting from the essential feature of any clock, namely the “tick.” I ended by saying that the best clock you can possibly make is one based off the basic laws of quantum physics, using the energy separation between two energy levels in an atom to determine […]

On “Wussy” Songs

Chuck Klosterman is a dangerous author for me to read. Not just because it leads to me posting quotes that upset people, but because I like his writing in a way that tends to creep into my own writing. After he releases a new book, I have be be really careful when I blog about […]

Apples : Oranges :: New SAT : Old SAT

OK, they dumped the analogy questions ages ago, but for oldsters like myself, those are still the signature SAT questions… Inside Higher Ed has a piece today on the new SAT results, which expresses concern over some declines: Mean scores on the SAT fell this year by more than they have in decades. A five-point […]

How to Find People to Talk To

So, you’re interested in discussing politics or religion or other Deep Issues with other people. What do you do? You could go on the Internet, but you end up talking to, like, freaky physics professors and stuff, so you’d prefer to talk to real people face to face. You could randomly approach strangers, ask their […]

Real Clock Tutorial: History

Over at A Blog Around the Clock, Bora put up a sixteen part series of posts talking about clocks. Unfortunately, he was talking about biological clocks, which are a specific and sort of messy application, from the standpoint of physics. I talk a bit about clocks for our first-year seminar class, as a part of […]