Science Online

I thought I had mentioned it on Twitter enough, but as several people were surprised to see me last night, it’s probably worth saying more prominently: I’m at the Science Online 2013 conference in Raleigh, NC this week. This is making me tremendously popular with my class, who are taking an exam tonight… Anyway, if […]

Cute Kid Update

It’s been a good while since I did any Cute Kid Blogging, due to excessive busy-ness. There’s big news among the younger residents of Chateau Steelypips, though: SteelyKid lost one of her front teeth the other day: That gap? Wasn’t there on Friday morning. Lest you think we’re horrible people who let her run headfirst […]

Proving Bethe Wrong: On Theory Inspiring Experiment

As research for the work-in-progress, I recently read Luis Alvarez‘s autobiography, Alvarez: Adventures of a Physicist, which contains a passage that I was reminded of last night while reading another book, that seems like an amusing follow-up to yesterday’s rant about theory and experiment. This is from the end of the chapter where he joined […]

Experiments Are Not Afterthoughts

There’s been a bunch of talk recently about a poll on quantum interpretations that showed physicists badly divided between the various interpretations– Copenhagen, Many-Worlds, etc.– a result which isn’t actually very surprising. Sean Carroll declares that the summary plot is “The Most Embarrassing Graph in Modern Physics, which I think is a bit of an […]

How Do You Make Negative Temperatures, Anyway?

Last week’s post talked about the general idea of negative temperature, with reference to this much-talked-about Science paper (which also comes in a free arxiv version from which the figures used here are taken). I didn’t go into the details of how they made a negative temperature gas, though, and as it’s both very clever […]

What Does “Negative Temperature” Mean, Anyway?

The most talked-about physics paper last week was probably Negative Absolute Temperature for Motional Degrees of Freedom (that link goes to the paywalled journal; there’s also a free arxiv preprint from which the above figure is taken). It’s a catchy but easily misinterpreted title– Negative absolute temperature! Below Absolute Zero! Thermodynamics is wrong!– that obscures […]