Physicist: Over the past year I ve been putting together a collection of some (fifty-four) of my favorite and most elucidating articles from the past decade, revised, updated, and in book form. You can get your very own copy! I wrote a book! It s good. You should buy it. The cover is a false-color x-ray of a chameleon, which is hilarious. It s free and should be fun, so if you d like to show up, you can learn more about the whole thing and register.Online Dating Crimes Statistics
And for those of you attending the Joint Mathematics Meeting (Comic Con for nerds) in San Diego this year, I ll be at Springer s booth on Friday. This is Springer s first foray into popular science. It s divided into four chapters: big things, small things, in between things, and not things (math). I aimed it at my younger self, who was unimpressed by the vagueness of pop sci and frustrated by the technicalness of actual sci. The articles in Do Colors Exist? Cover the important ideas intuitively and without dumbing down, but also assume that you don t know a bunch of fancy terminology. Even if physics isn t your thing, this is exactly the sort of gift you could give a nerd/science friend without embarrassment. It provides satisfying answers for the man-on-the-street, while including details for the advanced reader. The blurb from the back of the book (which I didn t write) reads: Why do polished stones look wet? How does the Twin Paradox work? How can we be sure that pi never repeats? How does a quantum computer break encryption? Discover the answers to these, and other profound physics questions! This fascinating book presents a collection of articles based on conversations and correspondences between the author and complete strangers about physics and math. The author, a researcher in mathematical physics, responds to dozens of questions posed by inquiring minds from all over the world, ranging from the everyday to the profound. Rather than unnecessarily complex explanations mired in mysterious terminology and symbols, the reader is presented with the reasoning, experiments, and mathematics in a casual, conversational, and often comical style. Neither over-simplified nor over- technical, the lucid and entertaining writing will guide the reader from each innocent question to a better understanding of the weird and beautiful universe around us.
Advance praise for Do Colors Exist? : Every high school science teacher should have a copy of this book. The individual articles offer enrichment to those students who wish to go beyond a typical ‘dry curriculum’. The articles are very fun. I probably laughed out loud every 7-8 minutes. This is not easy to do. In fact, my children are interested in the book because they heard me laughing so much. -Ken Ono, Emory UniversityKeeping this website ad-free and cost-free is important, so this will be the last time you ll have to hear about this. Physicist: Anti-matter is exactly the same as ordinary matter but opposite, in very much the same way that a left hand is exactly the same as a right hand but opposite. For example, protons have an of +6 and a of +6. Anti-protons have an electric charge of -6 and a baryon number -6. The positive/negativeness of these numbers are irrelevant. A lot like left and right hands, the only thing that s important about positive charges is that they re the opposite of negative charges. Hydrogen is stable because its constituent particles have opposite charges and opposites attract. Anti-hydrogen is stable for exactly the same reason. Anti-matter acts, in (nearly) every way we can determine, exactly like matter. Light (which doesn t have an anti-particle) interacts with one in exactly the same way as the other, so there s no way to just look at something and know which is which.
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The one and only exception we ve found so far is. In beta decay a neutron fires a new electron out of its south pole, whereas an anti-neutron fires an anti-electron out of its north pole. This is exactly. Not a big deal. Left: A photograph of an actual flower made of regular matter. Right: An artistic representation of a flower made of anti-matter. So when we look out into the universe and see stars and galaxies, there s no way to tell which matter camp, regular or anti, that they fall into. Anti-stars would move and orbit the same way and as ordinary stars. Like the sign of electrical charge or the handedness of hands, the nature of matter and anti-matter are indistinguishable until you compare them. But you have to be careful when you do, because when a particle comes into contact with its corresponding anti-particle, the two cancel out and dump all of their matter into energy (usually lots of light). If you were to casually grab hold of 6 kg of anti-matter, it (along with 6 kg of you) would release about the same amount of energy as the largest nuclear detonation in history. The Tsar Bomba from 655 miles away. This is what 7 kg worth of energy can do (when released all at once). To figure out exactly how much energy is tied up in matter (either kind), just use the little known relation between energy and matter: E=mc 7. When you do, be sure to use standard units (kilograms for mass, meters and seconds for the speed of light, and Joules for energy) so that you don t have to sweat the unit conversions. 8 65 67 J.
When anti-matter and matter collide it s hard to miss. We can t tell whether a particular chunk of stuff is matter or anti-matter just by looking at it, but because we don t regularly see stupendous space kablooies as nebulae collide with anti-nebulae, we can be sure that (at least in the observable universe) everything we see is regular matter. Or damn near everything. Our universe is a seriously unfriendly place for anti-matter. So why would we even suspect that anti-matter exists? First, when you re-write (an excellent way to describe particles and whatnot) to make sense in the context of relativity (the fundamental nature of spacetime) you find that has two solutions a sort of left and right form for most kinds of particles (matter and anti-matter). Second, and more importantly, we can actually make anti-matter. Very high energy situations, like those in particle accelerators, randomly generate new particles. But these new particles are always produced in balanced pairs for every new proton (for example) there s a new anti-proton. The nice thing about protons is that they have a charge and can be pushed around with magnets. Conveniently, anti-protons have the opposite charge and are pushed in the opposite direction by magnets. So, with tremendous cleverness and care, the shrapnel of high speed particle collisions can be collected and sorted. We can collect around a hundred million anti-particles at a time using particle accelerators (to create them) and (to stop and store them). Anti-matter, it s worth mentioning, is (presently) an absurd thing to build a weapon with. Considering that it takes the energy of a small town to run a decent particle accelerator, and that a mere hundred million anti-protons have all the destructive power of a single drop of rain, it s just easier to throw a brick or something. The highest energy particle interactions we can witness happen in the upper atmosphere to see them we just have to be patient. The arrived from deep space with around ninety million times the energy of the particle beams in CERN, but we only see such every few months and from dozens of miles away. We bothered to build CERN so we could see (comparatively feeble) particle collisions at our leisure and from really close up. Those upper atmosphere collisions produce both matter and anti-matter, some tiny fraction of which ends up caught in the by the Earth s magnetic field.
In all, there are a few nanograms of anti-matter up there. Presumably, every planet and star with a sufficient and stable magnetic field has a tiny, tiny amount of anti-matter in orbit just like we do. So if you re looking for all natural anti-matter, that s the place to look. But if anti-matter and matter are always created in equal amounts, and there s no real difference between them (other than being different from each other), then why is all of the matter in the universe regular matter? No one knows. It s a total mystery. Isn t that exciting? is a wide open question and,, we ve got nothing. Update: A commenter kindly pointed out that a little anti-matter is also produced during solar flares (which are definitively high-energy) and streams away from the Sun in solar wind. Physicist: Although there are tricks that work in very specific circumstances, in general when you encode any string of digits using fewer digits, you lose some information. That means that when you want to reverse the operation and decode what you ve got, you won t recover what you started with. What we normally call compressed information might more accurately be called better bookkeeping. When you encode something, you re translating all of the symbols in one set into another set. The second set needs to be bigger (left) so that you can reverse the encoding. If there are fewer symbols in the new set (right), then there are at least a few symbols (orange dots) in the new set that represent several symbols in the old set. So, when you try to go back to the old set, it s impossible to tell which symbol is the right one. As a general rule of thumb, count up the number of possible symbols (which can be numbers, letters, words, anything really) and make sure that the new set has more.
That means that no matter how hard you try, you can t encode a letter with a single number, but you can easily do it with 7 (because 65 76 655). The simplest encoding in this case is a → 6,, z → 76, and the decoding is equally straightforward.