Category Archives: Biology

Q: Why can some creatures walk on water yet I (a human) can’t?

Physicist: Surface tension. There are a lot of details and phancy physics behind surface tension, but the main idea behind surface tension comes from what separates liquids from gases.  Small things (like individual molecules) have a tendency to stick to … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Biology, Physics | 6 Comments

The nuptial effect

Every day, on average, 2-3 physicists get married.  On Saturday I’ll be attempting to push that average to as high as 3-4. So (for our regular readers), there’ll be a longer gap between posts than usual.  The future Mrs. Physicist … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Combinatorics, Evolution | 22 Comments

Q: Why doesn’t life and evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics? Don’t living things reverse entropy?

Physicist: In very short: nope. The second law of thermodynamics is sometimes (too succinctly) stated as “disorder increases over time”.  That statement seems to hold true, what with mountains wearing down, machines breaking, and the inevitable, crushing march of time.  … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Biology, Entropy/Information, Evolution | 68 Comments

Q: Which of Earth’s life forms could survive on each planet of the Solar System?

Physicist: We can feel fairly certain that no life from Earth can survive on the surface of any of the other planets. Mercury is really inhospitable.  Although there’s some water ice in craters near it poles, there’s very little hope … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Biology | 7 Comments

Q: Why are scientists looking for life in space by looking for water? How can they be sure that all life uses water?

The original question was:  I’m reading more and more lately about the findings of the Kepler satellite and that some scientists are estimating that roughly 5% of newly discovered planets in our galaxy may have mass similar to Earth, which … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Astronomy, Biology, Logic | 7 Comments

Q: If energy is neither created nor destroyed, what happens to the energy within our bodies and brains when we die?

Quick note: If you’re presently grieving, don’t read this. The original question was: If energy is neither created nor destroyed, what happens to the energy within our bodies and brains when we die?  I think I understand that the metabolic … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Biology, Physics, Skepticism | 237 Comments