Dorky Poll: Light Entertainment

I’m off to Williamstown this afternoon, to talk about research and alsoHow to Teach Physics to Your Dog. If you need blog-based entertainment, though, here are some shiny new radio buttons for you to click: You’re a beam of light: quick, what’s your polarization?online survey I won’t offer a personality analysis based on these results, […]

Laser Smackdown: Final Days of Voting for the Most Amazing Laser Application

We’re just over 600 votes in the Laser Smackdown poll in honor of the 50th anniversary of the laser, as of early Friday morning. I notice that it has moved off the front page of the blog, though, so here’s another signal-boosting repost, just so we have as many votes as possible, to establish maximum […]

Links for 2010-04-30

The Science and Entertainment Exchange: The X-Change Files: Zap! Or, Where Would Science Fiction Movies be Without Lasers? “Science fiction was right on top of this new development and even foresaw it. In 1898, H. G. Wells introduced an invisible but powerful heat ray as the weapon of choice for invading Martians in his story […]

The One Thing to Believe If You’re Only Going to Believe One Thing

Over in Twitter-land, S. C. Kavassalis notes a Googler who’s not afraid to ask the big questions: Weird Google search of the week: ‘the “one” scientific idea that we need to believe’. Uh um, I’m sure my blog couldn’t possibly answer that. It’s a good question, though, ad there are a couple of different ways […]

Conference Organizers Should Not Live in Caves

A sad and sordid story from the Times Higher Education following the rescinding of invitations to a conference on quantum foundations: Details of the conference in August for experts in quantum mechanics sounded idyllic. Participants were due to discuss “de Broglie-Bohm theory and beyond” in the Towler Institute, which is housed in a 16th-century monastery […]

Links for 2010-04-29

Skipping class? NAU high-tech system will know “Students who are thinking about sleeping late and skipping that morning class may have a new incentive to roll out of bed at one Arizona university this fall. Northern Arizona University will install an electronic system that detects when each student with an ID card walks through the […]

Hawking on Aliens: Not as Silly as You’d Like to Think

I’m a little surprised at the vehemence of some of the negative reactions to Stephen Hawking’s comments about aliens. Not so much in blogdom– Ethan’s response is pretty reasonable, for example– but there was a flurry of Twitter traffic yesterday of the form “Where does Stephen Hawking get off pontificating about aliens?” which strikes me […]

On the Quantum Physics of Whiteboards

I’m teaching Physics 350: Quantum Mechanics this term, which is a junior/senior level elective course using Townsend’s book which deals with quantum mechanics in the state vector formalism. The room in which the class meets is the only one in the department that contains a whiteboard (using dry-erase markers) rather than a blackboard (using chalk). […]

Links for 2010-04-28

Enemy Lurks in Briefings on Afghan War – PowerPoint – “”PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful […]