The Internet Exists Because of (Schrödinger’s) Cats

I’m working on some short pop-quantum explainers for reasons that I’ll be a little cagey about. In casting around for a novel way to introduce Schrödinger’s cat states, I hit on something that probably works, but illustrates the problems inherent in being both a professional physicist and a pop-science writer. The hook, as I mentioned […]

Small College, Exotic Particles

Topping the looooong list of things I would give a full ResearchBlogging write-up if I had time is this new paper on a ultra-cold atom realization of “Dirac Monopoles”. This is really cool stuff, but there are a lot of intricacies that I don’t fully understand, so writing it up isn’t a simple matter. The […]

Repeat After Me: Particle Physics Is Not All of Physics

The very last section of the book-in-progress (at least the draft that’s with my editor right now…) is titled “Science Is Never Over,” and talks about how there are a nearly infinite number of phenomena that you can investigate scientifically. The universe is a never-ending source of amazement and wonder, with surprisingly rich dynamics in […]

One, Two, Many, Lots: Investigating the Start of Many-Body Physics

Two papers with a similar theme crossed my social media feeds in the last couple of days. You might think this is just a weird coincidence, but I’m choosing to take it as a sign to write about them for the blog. So, what are these papers, and what’s the theme? One is the final […]

Old Thesis Club: Secondary Emission of Electrons from Molybdenum, by H.A. Smith, 1928

As noted in a previous post on Monte Carlo simulation in 1960, we recently came into possession of a large box of old Master’s theses. The bulk of these are from the 50’s and 60’s, but there are some going back much farther. As I pass these every day I’m in the office, I thought […]

When Is a Composite Object a Particle?

Through some kind of weird synchronicity, the title question came up twice yesterday, once in a comment to my TED@NYC talk post, and the second time on Twitter, in a conversation with a person whose account is protected, thus rendering it un-link-able. Trust me. The question is one of those things that you don’t necessarily […]

Tools of the Cold-Atom Trade: Optical Lattices

Last time in our trip through the cold-atom toolbox, we talked about light shifts, where the interaction with a laser changes the internal energy states of an atom in a way that can produce forces on those atoms. This allows the creation of “dipole traps” where cold atoms are held in the focus of a […]

The Making of “Squeezed States in a Bose-Einstein Condensate”

Yesterday’s write-up of my Science paper ended with a vague promise to deal some inside information about the experiment. So, here are some anecdotes that you would need to have been at Yale in 1999-2000 to pick up. We’ll stick with the Q&A format for this, because why not? Why don’t we start with some […]

Few-Body Systems: Cooler Than You Might Think

Hey, dude? Yeah, what’s up? I’m not normally the one who initiates this, but I was wondering: When you were at DAMOP last week, did you see any really neat physics? Oh, sure, tons of stuff. It was a little thinner than some past meetings– a lot of the Usual Suspects didn’t make the trip– […]