Chapter 3: Conservation laws and symmetries

Posted by concettinasfienti on May 12, 2015

Physicists love symmetries. In fact, it can be and has been said that all of modern physics is based on a bunch of symmetry principles from which the rest follows. While that may be a bit overly reductionist, it is certainly true that symmetry considerations play a huge role in the building of our understanding of […]

Chapter 2: The power of vectors

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 30, 2015

(Picture Source   ” At the heart of all mathematics are numbers. If I were to ask how many marbles you had in a bag, you might answer, “Three.” I would find your answer perfectly satisfactory. The ‘bare’ number 3, a magnitude, is sufficient to provide the information I seek. If I were to […]

Chapter 2. It is boring: why do I need to learn this?

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 28, 2015

While we get immediately fascinated by the study of the universe, our disappointing souvenirs of a physics lecture bring us back to a terribly boring hour, as our teacher was explaining us the rules of kinematics in one dimension, something like that: (from Evan’s Space, The Wonder of Physics) What does it have to do […]

Better to be roughly right than precisely wrong

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 24, 2015

Science is fundamentally about measuring the physical universe. Whenever you actually measure something there is always a chance that you can make an error. In our daily experience an error is something wrong we have done. However in science “error” does not mean the measurement was wrong: it is all about its accuracy, i.e. how […]

Chapter 1 (cont.): Unit of Measurements

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 22, 2015

(Picture Source: Wikipedia) Almost every physics course begins with the introduction of fundamental units of measurements. With such a term what we mean is, as Wikipedia puts it: ” a definite magnitude of a physical quantity, defined and adopted by convention or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same physical quantity. Any other […]

Chapter 1: The scale of the universe

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 21, 2015

Scale is a rather simple concept. We can easily enough define something “big” or “small” in our daily experience. Extreme scales, like then one we  are dealing in physics, are however challenging to grasp. They to picture yourself how big the universe actually is or how small those fundamental particles at the Large Hadron Collider […]

Our new address: Laniakea, the “immeasurable heaven”

Posted by concettinasfienti on December 29, 2014

Image Credit: R. Brent Tully (U. Hawaii) et al., SDvision, DP, CEA/Saclay   Scientists have recently mapped the supercluster of galaxies that includes our Milky way. They have named our supercluster Laniakea, which in Hawaiian means “immeasurable heaven”. How … you might ask? They have used a database which comprises the velocities of 8000 galaxies and used an algorithm to convert these velocities […]

The importance of storytelling in science

Posted by concettinasfienti on June 1, 2014

Over the weekend I luckily happened to find a great video under Youtube taken  during the Origins Stories weekend. In front of an audience of more than 3000 people this “Storytelling of Science” event presented a panel of well known scientists (among them  Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins and  Lawrence Krauss)  discussing science stories (from the […]

How to make a star

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 13, 2014

Last spring a new physics discovery has made it into the evening news … sustainable nuclear fusion has been reached in the lab. I just mention one example of the echos in the newspapers of those days from the Guardian   The method of the experiment is nicely explained by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) […]

Gravitational Waves detected?

Posted by concettinasfienti on April 4, 2014

You’ve probably heard about a new scientific discovery, announced a couple of weeks ago under the title “Gravitational waves detected”. Well actually they haven’t been directly …. The best description of what actually has been detected and in which way this is correlated with a primordial gravitational waves is the explanation of Sean Carroll (Caltech) in his […]