Category: Uncategorized

Is Generation Y Lost?

Here is another off the wall blog. You won't find any physics in here... Is GenY lost? In a recent NYT article, Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz, argue “sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans—particularly ...

GPI at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation

Members of the GPI team recently attended the biennial SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation conference. This time it was in Montreal at the end of June, and you can check out #SPIEastro to find out more about the general topics ...

Using “dispersion” to create honest to goodness photon topedos.

I've been thinking about how to make a powerful weapon based on a relatively weak light transmitter which can be tuned in frequency. This could be the basis of what, in Star Trek, they call photon torpedos. The physics principle ...

When are photons, photons?

You've probably heard the word "photon" before, as in "photon torpedoes" popularized in the original Star Trek. "Photons" are what physicists call "light" or electromagnetic radiation, when it displays it's particle-like behavior. Think of the light from the Sun. The Sun ...

Swirly rocks

A piece of Mars: Never mind the 4 m (13 ft) boulders that have fallen downslope, or the rippled sandy surfaces here. Look at those bright swirls in the ground. Those are the former interiors of sand dunes, which were ...

SETI – Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter: part 3

This is part 3 and final installment in the Your Opinion Doesn't Matter blog. Please read parts 1 and 2 for context. In part 2 I divided spurious opinions regarding topics in SETI into 3 categories: science-free, anti-scientific, and convicted statements ...

SETI – Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter: part 2

This blog extends part 1 of a blog with the same title, and is followed by part 3. Albeit imperfect, the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) tests a scientific question (hypothesis), "Did intelligent life get started anywhere else in the ...

SETI – Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter: part 1

Ha ha! The title should garner angry crowds bearing sharpened spoons*, chanting before my office window in Mountain View. *Because spoons are the only tools their caretakers will allow. Not so seriously, a hilarious article in the tabloid, Daily Mail, is illustrative, ...

Looking for signs of life on Kepler 186-F

Consider this post, which firmly states that proto-Earth Kepler 186-f has a 50% chance of harboring technologically equipped intelligent life: http://www.science20.com/quantum_gravity/blog/a_better_than_5050_chance_kepler186f_has_technological_life-134555 Although about science, this blog is primarily lacking in real science. By my reckoning, even the most optimistic assumptions indicate a ...

Big ripples near Opportunity

A piece of Mars: This shows the location of the rover Opportunity as of late March, 2014. It's been trolling around the rim of Endeavour crater. Just inside the crater, there are some large ripples (the biggest is ~10 m ...