Monthly Archives: December 2011

Q: Will the world end in 2012?

Physicist: Firstly, happy new year! So, there’s been a lot of hoopla around 2012 doomsday stuff for a while.  Maybe not as much fuss as there was over the techno-apocalypse of Y2K, but still.  Although there are a variety of … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Paranoia, Probability, Skepticism | 13 Comments

Q: How do you find the height of a rocket using trigonometry?

The original question was: I am a Physics teacher wanting to measure the height of a rocket.  3 measurers are standing at the corners of an equilateral triangle standing on flat ground.  Each of them measures the angle from horizontal … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Equations, Experiments, Math | 2 Comments

Q: What are chaos and chaos theory? How can you talk about chaos?

Physicist: Chaos theory, despite what Jurassic Park may lead you to believe, has almost nothing to do with making actual predictions, and is instead concerned with trying to figure out how much we can expect our predictions to suck. “Pure … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Math, Probability | 11 Comments

Q: What is the Riemann Hypothesis? Why is it so important?

Physicist: To non-mathematicians this seems like a whole lot of fuss over nothing. There’s a function called the Riemann Zeta function, denoted ““, that’s defined for complex numbers (that is, you can plug in for example, and it’s totally fine).  … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Equations, Math, Number Theory | 12 Comments


Holy crap!  Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist now has a twitter account: @AAMAAP It’ll be used to announce new posts and whatnot.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Q: Why does the entropy of the universe always increase, and what is the heat death of the universe?

Physicist: The increase of entropy is just how a scientist talks about the fact that the universe tends to do the most likely thing.  For example, if you throw a bucket of dice you’ll find that about a sixth of … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Entropy/Information, Physics | 54 Comments