On 1 January 2019 the New Horizons probe – the one that whipped past Pluto in 2015 – will encounter another outer solar-system body: 2014 MU69. Informally it’s become known as Ultima Thule. The neat part is that this body wasn’t even known when New Horizons was launched in January 2006. Back then, the probe … More New Horizons and Ultima Thule – the bonus mission
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!
One of the reasons I got interested in physics as a kid – and still am today – is because of the way sound works. In physics terms, sound is simply a succession of alternate compressions and rarefications of the air, carrying energy which moves our eardrums. What does that mean? The first point is … More Making waves – the physics of sound
The passing of Stephen Hawking marks the end of an era. He was an extraordinary man and an exceptional physicist – one of the greats, standing alongside Einstein, Bohr, Newton, Heisenberg and a small and select handful of others. He was also an exceptional human on many levels, offering wisdom and insight into much about … More The legacy of Stephen Hawking
One of the things the Star Wars franchise isn’t particularly known for is the ‘science’ part of the science fiction calculation. I’m talking about everything from visible bolts of laser light that move at about 130 mph (ie: 0.00002 percent of light-speed) through to one-climate worlds, space ‘fighters’ that manoeuvre like First World War dogfighters, … More Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This weekend – 16 and 17 December, US time – two of my books are being offered free on Kindle. That’s right. Free. It’s your 2017 Christmas gift from me. The two books are Explaining Our Weird Universe – which explains everything you didn’t know you needed to know about why quantum physics isn’t magic, … More A Christmas present from me to you