My Photo


  • Jen-Luc Piquant sez: "They like us! They really like us!"

    "Explains physics to the layperson and specialist alike with abundant historical and cultural references."
    -- Exploratorium ("10 Cool Sites")

    "... polished and humorous..."
    -- Physics World

    "Takes 1 part pop culture, 1 part science, and mixes vigorously with a shakerful of passion."
    -- Typepad (Featured Blog)

    "In this elegantly written blog, stories about science and technology come to life as effortlessly as everyday chatter about politics, celebrities, and vacations."
    -- Fast Company ("The Top 10 Websites You've Never Heard Of")
Blog powered by Typepad
Bookmark and Share

« free range physics | Main | tunnel vision »


"especially since physicists discovered that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating instead of, say, slowing down"

don't you mean "astronomers"? :)

Jennifer: Congratulations on the second blogiversary. Looking forward to see more good science in plain language.


Your parentheses are in the wrong place: instead of "(SU)3", one writes "SU(3)", meaning the "special unitary" group of order 3. This is a group whose elements are 3-by-3 matrices whose Hermitian adjoints are also their inverses (that's the "unitary" part), and whose determinants are all 1 (that's the "special" part).

Clear as a whirlpool in a mud puddle, right?

I attempted to explain what matrices are and how they work, here:

(if you'll excuse a little blatant self-promotion). Actually, my goal there was to explain the Lie algebra of the group SO(3), although I didn't say it in so many words. SO(3) isn't exactly the same as SU(3), but they are examples of the same kind of thing: groups defined in terms of matrices having particular properties.

What's a "group", you ask? In the interests of blogger solidarity, I should point to John Armstrong's introductory essay on that subject:

And now that I've made everybody's eyes glaze right over, I should add, "Happy blogiversary!" :-)

>I kept waiting for Wetterich to throw down the proverbial gauntlet and an outright brawl to ensue,
>perhaps to be resolved with pistols at sunrise the next day (there is a very pretty beach just
>outside and plenty of other scientists around to serve as seconds). But in the end, physicists are
>civilized sorts, and kept themselves to verbal fisticuffs. Nobody seems to have taken things

What?! I thought these cosmologists were serious people doing serious science! This sounds nothing at all like a high-Tc superconductor workshop at the KITP. :)

Sounds like a lot of fun - enjoy your time in residence. Maybe you might even teach me more about the subject in which I earned my lowest grade as an undergrad.

And happy anniversary on the blog - thanks ever so much for sharing your gifts with us.

his calculations indicated that the universe should be expanding.

Slight correction -- they indicated that it should either be expanding or contracting. Static was straight out, however.

What Lambda did was provide a sort of outward force that counterbalanced "normal" gravity. Start with a Universe that would be contracting just due to the gravitation of normal mass, add in a cosmological constant, and you achieve a precarious balance. It turns out that it's an unstable equilibrium, so it isn't even a terribly satisfying solution to the "we want the Universe to be static" problem.

-Rob Knop

I thought Einstein preferred the term "Invariance Theory" to "Relativity".

Anyway, you seem to have the ear of all these physics-type people. They might like to know that my direct observational evidence has disproven the QTL.

And I probably won't get any accolades. Birds rarely do.

Sorry for the late post and I don't mean to nitpick but I'm pretty sure it takes less time to fly from the west coast to the east coast than vice-versa what with the jet stream flowing generally east at continental U.S. latitudes... of course there are always exceptions.


The comments to this entry are closed.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.