How Not to Control the Weather for Your Dog

I’m rooting around in my bag for a pen, and pull out a laser pointer by mistake. Since I’d really prefer not to be grading, I flip it on and shine it on the floor next to the spot where Emmy is half-dozing. She immediately leaps up (she’s pretty spry for a dog of 12…), […]

Particle-Wave Duality for Eight-Year-Olds

Over at Scientific American’s Frontiers for Young Minds blog, they have a great post on what happens when you ask scientists to explain key elements of a different research field. It’s pretty funny, and rings very true, as SteelyKid asks me tons of science questions, very few of which have anything to do with atomic, […]

Advent Calendar of Science Stories 14: A Slip of Card

Scientific controversies aren’t always settled by a single dramatic experiment, but it’s a lot of fun when they are. It’s even more fun when they can be carried out with, as the author put it, “without any other apparatus than is at hand to every one.” I’m speaking in this case of the famous “double […]

Nobel Prize for Blue LEDs

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for the development of blue LED’s. As always, this is kind of fascinating to watch evolve in the social media sphere, because as a genuinely unexpected big science story, journalists don’t have pre-written articles based on an early […]

Finding Extrasolar Planets with Lasers

On Twitter Sunday morning, the National Society of Black Physicsts account retweeted this: Using Lasers to Lock Down #Exoplanet Hunting #Space — ✨The Solar System✨ (@The_SolarSystem) September 28, 2014 I recognized the title as a likely reference to the use of optical frequency combs as calibration sources for spectrometry, which is awesome stuff. Unfortunately, […]

Son of Interstellar Laser Communications

I didn’t plan to do a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the optics of sending messages with lasers, but then I starting idly thinking about detection, prompted in part by a bunch of conversations with my summer students about single-photon detectors. which led to scribbling on the back of an envelope, which led to Googling, […]