Two years ago, I started a blog called “Science Vs. Pseudoscience”. Things changed a lot since my initial post, and I imagine they will continue to evolve over time. Thanks for reading!

Galileo's Pendulum

Two years ago on this date, I launched a blog called “Science Vs. Pseudoscience“, connected to a class I was teaching of the same name and concept. As you might guess, the focus of the original blog was more on skepticism: identifying and debunking pseudoscientific attitudes. Since my students were writing several essays during the semester, I thought I’d require a similar effort from myself—and get back into serious creative nonfiction writing at the same time. I had considered science writing many years ago, but didn’t really have time to pursue it while teaching and doing research.

I don’t write many posts anymore that are explicitly skeptical in outlook, not because I don’t think it’s important, but because I’d rather write about science if I can. Others are better at debunking, and have more patience for the fight. (I know a few of my readers want me to…

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If you (like me) have ever been in charge of buying and/or maintaining lab equipment, you might have griped about its cost, or your inability to repair it. A new DIY movement based on open-source hardware and software could allow for the relatively inexpensive fabrication of laboratory equipment. My latest for Ars Technica has the story:

Imagine a world where lab workers can create their own custom equipment in-house, using either their own designs or ones they’ve downloaded. A glimpse of that world appears in today’s issue of Science, provided by 3D printing, the relatively low-cost fabrication technique where ceramics, polymers, and other materials are deposited in layers to build up a three-dimensional shape. [Read more…]

Today’s DIY project: print your own centrifuge!

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is one of the most important results in quantum theory, dealing with limitations of accurate measurements on two complementary quantities. However, there is a misconception (dating from Heisenberg himself) that the act of measurement is what causes the uncertainty. A new experiment has demonstrated that view is wrong, as I explain in my most recent Ars Technica article.

One of the most important—and famous—results in quantum mechanics is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP). What is less known (at least to non-physicists) is that the HUP exists in two versions. Werner Heisenberg’s original formulation stated that the act of measurement disturbs a physical system, placing strong constraints on (for example) the simultaneous measurement of both the position and momentum of a particle. A more mathematically rigorous version places inherentlimits on the measurement of physical quantities—independent of whether any measurement is actually performed.

While it is often assumed that these different formulations are the same, recent theoretical results have shown the original Heisenberg measurement-based version is incomplete. [Read more!]

Clearing up uncertainty about Heisenberg

Over the last year, I’ve become very involved with the Science Online community. This is a group focused around an annual (un)conference, whose purpose is the communication of science through electronic media. Here’s an interview I did with Bora Zivkovic, one of the leading figures in the Science Online community. Key excerpt:

I still think of myself as an educator even now, though I’m no longer in the college classroom. I want to share the wonder of physics to those who think of it as something beyond them, or even something to fear. In this era when the very goals of education are being challenged (at least for the children of poor and working-class families), it seems more important than ever to stress the importance of science, not just in daily lives, but in our intellectual structure. Science can be a source of joy and wonder for everyone, whether they are scientists or not.

Science Online and me

The Standard Model (SM) of particles and interactions provides a successful description of most of the matter we know of. However, physicists have known for many years that it is not complete: the SM predicted massless neutrinos, and has no place for dark matter. A new result from the BaBar experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) could possibly provide another problem for the SM—and would place severe constraints on a popular alternative theory, supersymmetry (SUSY)….

Read more at Ars Technica.

Too many heavy particles could mean trouble for the Standard Model