Monthly Archives: November 2013

Q: Are some number patterns more or less likely? Are some betting schemes better than others?

Physicist: First, don’t gamble unless you can be sure you won’t get caught cheating or you enjoy losing money. Games of chance come in two flavors: “completely random” and “not quite completely random”.  It’s not always obvious which is which, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Combinatorics, Entropy/Information, Math, Probability | 9 Comments

Q: Why does iron kill stars?

Physicist: Every now and again a physicist finds themselves in front of a camera and, either through over-enthusiasm or poor editing, is heard to say something that is “less nuanced” than they may have intended.  “Iron kills stars” is one … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics | 17 Comments

Q: According to relativity, things get more massive the faster they move. If something were moving fast enough, would it become a black hole?

Physicist: Nopers!  Although that would be an amazingly cool super-weapon. Physics can be pretty complicated, but what makes physics different from lesser sciences, like Calvinball, is that physics has rules that are absolute.  While the consequences can sometimes be difficult … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Relativity | 14 Comments

Q: How do we know that atomic clocks are accurate?

Physicist: It turns out that there is no way, whatsoever, to look at a single clock and tell whether or not it’s accurate.  A good clock isn’t so much accurate as it consistent.  It takes two clocks to demonstrate consistency, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Experiments, Logic, Philosophical, Physics | 11 Comments