Passionately Curious: What The Hell Is Quantum?

If there was ever a word that a physicist dreads hearing in common parlance, it has to be ‘quantum’. Believe me, I think I’ve heard this word abused more than perhaps any other. As such, in this episode of Passionately Curious, back after a long hiatus, we’ll be diving into the how and what of quantum physics for real. No scary equations, no mathematical hocus pocus: just descriptions and analogies, so you too, citizen, can get a general feeling of what all that quantum weirdness is about. Continue reading “Passionately Curious: What The Hell Is Quantum?”

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Passionately Curious: Let There Be Light! And He Saw That It Was Weird.

 

Wait, what’s this? This strange science-y series that was going on last year is back? Well… not quite, just a one-shot for now! Still, there’s so much awesome stuff left to talk about! Take, for example, the weirdness that is light. Now, I’ve already gone into far too much detail on some of the stranger properties of light concerning special relativity and all that jazz, so today we’ve got some lighter fare. After all, there’s plenty of weirdness in the nature of light even in our everyday lives that you’ve probably never realized – and a great deal of it has to do with the notion of color.

You see, objects don’t actually ‘have’ colors – and neither does light itself (well… about 99% of the time1), though in a different way. Continue reading “Passionately Curious: Let There Be Light! And He Saw That It Was Weird.”

And Nothing Else (Anti-)Matters

Passionately Curious“And now, puny generic sci-fi superhero, I shall charge up my hyper-flux-capacitated antimatter bomb, and annihilate your entire planet! Lawrence, cue the evil-laugh tape!”

Anti-matter (or, alternatively) antimatter is an age-old favorite power source among writers of scifi and superhero comics alike, which is probably why most people you’ll talk with will at least admit to having heard of it. It helps that Dan Brown also used an antimatter weapon as a main plot point in Angels and Demons (2003), which was turned into a fairly successful motion picture in 2009. However, while most people at least have some sense that it exists (which certainly is an accomplishment in and of itself), relatively few people have any clue as to the essence of the thing. Today, I’ll be taking a short foray into the ins and outs of antimatter, showing you what it is – and what it is not. Continue reading “And Nothing Else (Anti-)Matters”

Passionately Curious: What the Hell Is… Evolution?

Passionately CuriousWhat do you mean, “not that kind of evolution”?

I am a scientist, and a fairly broadly educated one at that, and so I can have a tendency to forget that a lot of things I take for granted are, in reality, quite complicated for most of us. Like, you know, quantum mechanics. Or much of basic mathematics. Both of those, however, are not what I’ll be talking about today. As you may have guessed already, today we’ll be talking about a branch of science that is very often misunderstood and misinterpreted, despite being rather simple and straightforward in essence: evolutionary biology. Or, as I’ll call it for readability’s sake, the science of evolution. Let’s see if we can evolve these brains of ours, eh? Continue reading “Passionately Curious: What the Hell Is… Evolution?”

Passionately Curious: So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

“It’s the end of the world as we know it – and I feel fine.”
– R.E.M. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

As Chaucer (reportedly) said rather long ago: “All good things must come to an end.” It seems that this is indeed the case for everything we observe all around us: lives of individuals come and go; civilizations rise and fall; and on an even larger scale, solar systems are born and burn out in spectacular supernovae. But what about our universe itself? Will there be a day when we must witness not simply the end of our own world, but the annihilation of our entire cosmos? Today, we’ll be taking glimpses at the end of existence itself – welcome to Passionately Curious. Continue reading “Passionately Curious: So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish”

Passionately Curious – Taking Flight

Passionately CuriousWell, that’s my article for today. Enjoy the rest of the week guys.

I’m pulling your leg, of course. Today I’ll be taking a look into how the hell a giant lump of metal, weighing in at around 200 tons, can take off and just chill up high in the atmosphere pretending it’s a bird. Let’s fly. Continue reading “Passionately Curious – Taking Flight”

Passionately Curious – An Interstaller Investigation

 

As you may well know by now, I’m a huge fan of the natural sciences. Usually, I use the space allotted to me here to try and explain some interesting bit of science in more simple terms, so that those of us who aren’t as big on the giant formulas and heavy textbooks can still get a glimpse of, say, the realities of time travel. Or, sometimes, I just like to investigate something silly – like coffee. Today, we’re doing something a little different. After all, we’re a magazine for writing, literature, and film, and so I thought I’d take you on a little trip through the science of a recent, well-received Hollywood Sci-Fi blockbuster: Interstellar. Continue reading “Passionately Curious – An Interstaller Investigation”