Monthly Archives: September 2011

Q: How are fractals made?

Physicist: There are a lot of ways. A fractal is just a structure that stays interesting no matter how far you zoom in.  More than that, generally you can’t tell how far you’ve zoomed in (it looks the same at … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Geometry, Math | 4 Comments

Q: CERN’s faster than light neutrino thing: WTF?

Physicist: The story here is that CERN has been generating neutrinos, firing them 730km, to a detector in Gran Sasso, Italy, and those neutrinos have been consistently (so far as their instruments say) arriving 60 ns (0.00000006 seconds) earlier than … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Experiments, Paranoia, Relativity, Skepticism | 28 Comments

Q: What’s the point of purely theoretical research?

Physicist: The classic answer to this question, due (possibly) to Franklin, is “what use is a new-born baby?”. The problem is that the best research/exploration is about looking for stuff, while not quite knowing what to expect or what to … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Mathematician, -- By the Physicist, Experiments, Philosophical, Skepticism | 2 Comments

Q: Why does lightning flash, but thunder rolls?

Physicist: The speed of light (which governs how long it takes to see lightning) is about one million times faster than the speed of sound (which governs how long it takes to hear lightning), so for the purposes of this … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics | 1 Comment

Q: Hyperspace, warp drives, and faster than light travel: why not?

Physicist: Firstly: no.  But, if you’re really set on it: maybe.  The essential problems are that moving faster than light (FTL) requires impossible acceleration (not difficult but impossible in a “doesn’t make sense to talk about” kind of way), and FTL … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Relativity | 16 Comments