EppsNet Archive: Physics

Quantum Teleportation Breakthrough by DARPA-Funded Physicists

20 Sep 2016 /

Two separate teams of scientists funded by the Pentagon’s research arm have revealed significant breakthroughs in the field of quantum teleportation which could have a major impact on cybersecurity and encryption.

Forget security and encryption I want to disappear one place and appear someplace else. What’s the holdup on that?!


Extensions to Logic for Common Sense

6 Nov 2011 /
It's time to travel

From some John McCarthy lecture slides on extensions to logic for common sense.

Problem

Find the height of a building using a barometer.

Intended answer

Multiply the difference in pressures by the ratio of densities of mercury and air.

Unintended common sense answers

  1. Drop the barometer from the top of the building and measure the time before it hits the ground.
  2. Measure the height and length of the shadow of the barometer and the shadow of the building.
  3. Rappel down the building with the barometer as a yardstick.
  4. Lower the barometer on a string till it reaches the ground and measure the string.
  5. Sit on the barometer and multiply the stories by ten feet.
  6. Tell the janitor, “I’ll give you this fine barometer if you’ll tell me the height of the building.”
  7. Sell the barometer and buy a GPS.

Bye-Bye, Bevatron

14 Oct 2011 /
Bevatron top shielding blocks

If you drive up the hill to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one thing you can’t help noticing is the large (approx. 125,000 sq.ft.) circular pit where the Bevatron is in its final stages of demolition.

The Bevatron, as its name suggests, was used to make beverages. For example, the Bevatron could take enormous quantities of tequila, triple sec and lime juice, smash them together at the speed of light, and produce an excellent margarita.

Wait, what?

I’m now being informed that the Bevatron was in fact a particle accelerator put into operation in 1954 and used in the work of multiple Nobel Prize-winning physicists.


Something Out of Nothing

2 Sep 2010 /
Stephen Hawking NASA 50th (200804210002HQ)

Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

I still don’t get it. This is the one question that really gives me a headache: Why is there anything at all instead of absolutely nothing — no time, no matter, nothing?

For the universe to create itself out of “nothing,” doesn’t there have to be something?


Homework Follies

18 Nov 2009 /
Boy doing math problems

Worked some physics problems with my boy last night . . . the subject at hand was torque, which his textbook expresses in units of mN.

“Back in my day, we used to measure torque in foot-pounds,” I said. “What’s mN? Millinewtons?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess so.”

“OK, we’re off to a great start!”


Things I Love to Do on a Hot Summer Evening

2 Sep 2009 /
Tequila

My son’s going into 11th grade next week. He’s got a couple of honors classes, a couple of AP classes, Spanish 3 and a music class.

It looks like a very tough schedule to me — he’s also got college entrance exams this year — but that’s where his academic history has brought him and he says he wants to do it.

One thing I didn’t know about AP classes is that they start giving kids assignments during summer vacation. He’s working on ’em right now!

He asked me for a little help on the physics assignment so I get to do two things I love to do on a hot summer evening: sip premium tequila on ice with a lime, and solve problems like this:

A kangaroo jumps to a vertical height of 2.7m. How long is it in the air before returning to Earth?

Oh I’m in heaven!


Explain That, Galileo!

31 Jul 2009 /

Obama Drops Faster than Bush or Carter

[HT: Best of the Web Today]


We Don’t Have the Money, So We Have to Think

27 Jun 2005 /
We don’t have the money, so we have to think.
— Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was an illustrious scientist — the 1908 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and the father of nuclear physics.

Money out the window

His humble upbringing as the fourth in a family of 12 children in rural New Zealand influenced his approach to science, as summarized in the above quote.

A recruiter called me today about a job managing an $80 million IT project.

How in the world can you spend $80 million on an IT project?! I could put your company logo on Mars for $80 million.

Most of the big, expensive IT projects that I’m familiar with, there really was no reason for them to take so long or cost so much. A lot of time and money could have been saved with some upfront thinking.

I get a lot of this now — recruiters asking me if I have experience managing multi-year, multi-million dollar projects, as if there’s some competitive advantage to be had from spending huge sums of money over long periods of time.

A modern variation on Rutherford’s famous saying might be: “We’ve got 80 million dollars! Why should we have to think?!”

Thus spoke The Programmer.