The Real Point of Zero Point

While Kenneth Ford’s 101 Quantum Questions was generally good, there was one really regrettable bit, in Question 23: What is a “state of motion?” When giving examples of states, Ford defines the ground state as the lowest-energy state of a nucleus, then notes that its energy is not zero. He then writes: An object brought […]

Wind Power Economics and the Ability to Focus

Kevin Drum re-posts a chart on wind power made by Stuart Staniford showing that the number of new wind power plants installed in 2010 was way lower than in 2009 or 2008: This is meant as a starting point for discussion about the big economic issues that might’ve caused this. One of the many, many […]

The Unexpected Leaping Ability of Bovines

I’m spending the day trying to get some work done on the book-in-progress, so I’m avoiding both work- and blog-related stuff. I don’t want to leave the site completely quiet, though, so here’s a question to ponder, relating to SteelyKid’s continuing fascination with Goodnight Moon: How does a cow jump over the moon? The father […]

Why Would Anybody in Their Right Mind Build the LHC?

In the comments following the silly accelerator poll, onymous wrote: [T]he point of the LHC isn’t to discover the Higgs. No one in their right minds would build a 14 TeV pp collider if their only goal was to discover the Higgs. While it’s true that the ultimate goal of the LHC is to discover […]

I Am Baffled Regarding Chris Mooney

The kerfuffle of the moment in the science blogosphere once again relates to Chris Mooney, who is pretty much a kerfuffle looking for a place to happen at this point. This time around it centers around a Washington Post op-ed that is basically the executive summary of a American Academy of Arts and Sciences paper […]

Amazing Laser Application 9: Fusion!

What’s the application? The goal of laser ignition fusion experiments is to heat and compress a target to the point where the nuclei of the atoms making up the sample fuse together to form a new, heavier nucleus, releasing energy in the process. Nuclear fusion is, of course, what powers stars, and creating fusion in […]