Is there such a thing as absolute hot – the hottest you can possibly get? And no, I’m not talking about some it-person de jour being voted ‘hottest’ on the planet by some scatalogically-minded magazine trying to up its sales figures. I’m talking about the laws of physics. Temperature. And temperature beyond… er …. temperature. … More What is absolute hotness?
It’s been a hot week for science. Thanks to the Event Horizon Telescope, an algorithm created by 29-year old PhD graduate Katie Bouman, and a lot of hard work, humanity got its first photo of a black hole – M87 in the galaxy Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away. It wasn’t made with visible … More The science behind the awesome black hole photograph
One of my favourite Robert A. Heinlein novels is Time for the Stars, a realisation of Albert Einstein’s ‘twin paradox’ that Heinlein wrote in the mid-1950s as part of his so-called ‘juvenile’ series. It was an outcome of the slightly berserk nature of Einstein’s 1905 theory of Special Relativity, which – with his theory of … More Einstein’s twin paradox explained
If both Special and General Relativity didn’t work precisely as Einstein said it did, GPS would be far less accurate than it actually is. Like, way off, meaning those auto-drive cars wouldn’t even get to the right road. Or any road. And we’d all be lost. Let me explain. GPS works by very precise distance … More How GPS finds you and lets Google send you adverts
It seems to me that by our everyday standards, hyper-extreme physics of the Einstein variety is magic – abstract, nonsensical and absurd. To me it’s like dada art. And that also isn’t surprising, conceptually. Setting aside the fact that both dada and Einstein came from Switzerland, the turn of the twentieth century brought the great … More Extreme physics as dada art – really!
It’s two years this week since my Mum passed away. She was hugely interested in the why of the universe and usually asked me if she wanted something about it explained. It’s a while since I’ve done a science post, so I thought I’d run one this week. It’s about why our law of energy … More When energy isn’t conserved – a physics conundrum
One of the great appeals to me of cosmology isn’t so much what we learn about the universe, as what we learn about ourselves. Take the shape of the universe, for example. Cosmologists have long wondered about it. What is the overall structure of the space-time continuum with its myriad galaxies, including ours? The actual … More The Earth isn’t flat, but the universe might be