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 […]

Why So Many Theorists?

When I was looking over the Great Discoveries series titles for writing yesterday’s Quantum Man review, I was struck again by how the Rutherford biography by Richard Reeves is an oddity. Not only is Rutherford a relatively happy fellow– the book is really lacking in the salacious gossip that is usually a staple of biography, […]

What Counts as “Quantum Physics?”

In comments to yesterday’s post about precision measurements, Bjoern objected to the use of “quantum mechanics” as a term encompassing QED: IMO, one should say “quantum theory” here instead of “quantum mechanics”. After all, what is usually known as quantum mechanics (the stuff one learns in basic courses) is essentially the quantization of classical mechanics, […]

Massive by Ian Sample

The physics book generating the most bloggy buzz in the latter part of 2010 would have to be Ian Sample’s Massive: The Missing Particle that Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science, about the as yet undetected particle known as the Higgs boson. Detecting the Hiigs is the most immediate goal of the Large Hadron Collider, […]

Possibly Stupid Question: Why All These Extra Particles?

I’ve reached a point in the book-in-progress where I find myself needing to talk a little about particle physics. As this is very much not my field, this quickly led to a situation where the dog asked a question I can’t answer. But, hey, that’s why I have a blog with lots of smart readers… […]

The Status of Simulations

Most of what would ordinarily be blogging time this morning got used up writing a response to a question at the Physics Stack Exchange. But having put all that effort in over there, I might as well put it to use here, too… The question comes from a person who did a poster on terminology […]

Experiment vs. Theory: The Eternal Debate

Melissa at Confused at a Higher Level offers some thoughts on the relative status of experimental vs. theoretical science, spinning off a comprehensive discussion of the issues at Academic Jungle. I flagged this to comment on over the weekend, but then was too busy with SteelyKid and football to get to it. since I’m late […]

Without Experiment, There Is No Theory

A lot of people have been blogging and Twittering about this subway map of science, which puts various branches of science in the place of the lines on the London Underground map, showing connections between them. It’s a huge graphic, but a kind of cool image. I do, however, have a problem with it, which […]