The Test(ing) of Time 2: Freezing Time

A month and a half ago, I reported on a simple experiment to measure the performance of a timer from the teaching labs. I started the timer running at a particualr time, and over the next couple of weeks checked in regularly with the Official US Time display at the NIST website, recording the delay […]

What’s So Interesting About Extreme Lasers?

The second in the DAMOP research categories I talked about is “Extreme Lasers,” a name I was somewhat hesitant to use, as every time I see “Extreme [noun],” I get a flash of Stephen Colbert doing air guitar. It is, however, the appropriate term, because these laser systems push the limits of what’s possible both […]

What’s So Interesting About Ultracold Matter?

The first of the five categories of active research at DAMOP that I described in yesterday’s post is “Ultracold Matter.” The starting point for this category of research is laser cooling to get a gas of atoms down to microkelvin temperatures (that is, a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero. Evaporative cooling can […]

What’s So Interesting About AMO Physics?

That’s the title of my slightly insane talk at the DAMOP (Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics of the American Physical Society) conference a couple of weeks ago, summarizing current topics of interest in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. I’ll re-embed the slides at the end of this post, for anyone who missed my […]

The Bat Diet: Live Longer Through General Relativity

A scientific theory hasn’t really arrived until the cynical and unscrupulous find a way to use it to extract money from the credulous and gullible. This has posed a significant obstacle for general relativity, dealing as it does with gravity, which requires really gigantic masses to produce measurable effects. That makes it a little difficult […]

Commanding the Power of Thor…ium: “Wigner Crystals of 229Th for Optical Excitation of the Nuclear Isomer”

I have to admit, I’m writing this one up partly because it lets me use the title reference. It’s a cool little paper, though, demonstrating the lengths that physicists will go to in pursuit of precision measurements. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see that dorky post title, and ask what this is about. […]

Watching Photons Interfere: “Observing the Average Trajectories of Single Photons in a Two-Slit Interferometer”

It’s been a long and brutally busy week here, so I really ought to just take a day off from blogging. But there’s a new paper in Science on quantum physics that’s just too good to pass up, so here’s a ReasearchBlogging post to close out the week. Aw, c’mon, dude, I’m tired. What’s so […]

What Goes Around Is Really Round: “Improved measurement of the shape of the electron”

The big physics story of the week is undoubtedly the new limit on the electric dipole moment (EDM) of the electron from Ed Hinds’s group at Imperial College in the UK. As this is something I wrote a long article on for Physics World, I’m pretty psyched to see this getting lots of media attention, […]

You Will Never Die

If I ever decided to abandon any pretense of integrity or credibility, and just shoot for making a bazillion dollars peddling quantum hokum, the particular brand of quantum philosophy I would peddle has already been laid out, in Robert Charles Wilson’s Divided by Infinity. In the story, the narrator is given a copy of a […]

Active Engagement Works: “Improved Learning in a Large-Enrollment Physics Class”

Physics is a notoriously difficult and unpopular subject, which is probably why there is a large and active Physics Education Research community within physics departments in the US. This normally generates a lot of material in the Physical Review Special Topics journal, but last week, a PER paper appeared in Science, which is unusual enough […]