Where does mass come from?

Posted on Wed 18 March 2020 in Physics

I’m a bit over halfway through a brilliant set of particle physics lectures by Don Lincoln, called The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality. Don has spent many years as an experimental particle physicist, and has worked with particle accelerators at both at Fermilab and at CERN. You may remember him from his co-discovery of the top quark in 1995, or from his membership on the CERN team when they discovered the Higgs boson in 2012. Or heck you might have seen one of his TED …

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What's so weird about lightspeed, anyway?

Posted on Thu 16 January 2020 in Physics

Have you ever experienced that thing where you're in your car, stopped at a traffic light - you suddenly get the sensation that you're rolling backward, so you slam on your brake... but you already had your brake on, and you weren't moving! It was the car beside you rolling forward, but your brain misinterpreted it as your own - backwards - motion.

So, another mental image: imagine that you find yourself suddenly transported to a quiet, peaceful mountaintop. There's a monastery here, and Monks are quietly meditating. There is no sound, no …

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The tension between classical and relativistic mechanics

Posted on Thu 09 January 2020 in Physics

When I was considering writing my post on time dilation, I expected precisely zero feedback... just on the basis that nobody would read it. I'm really pleased with the feedback I actually got, and you've all spurred me to write another post on the topic. So today, I'm going to give you a brief glimpse into what caused all this ruckus: Einstein's general theory of relativity.

If you remember, Einstein first came up with the special theory of relativity in 1905, and it took another ten years to get to …

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Spacetime, and Time Dilation

Posted on Sun 10 November 2019 in Physics

I remember reading Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time back when I was about 16 years old - a bit over 20 years ago. I didn't even come close to understanding it then. I re-read it on Audible a year ago and I can report that I still didn't understand it at all. Either way, I've been interested in physics and spacetime for a huge chunk of my life, and I wish I'd spent more time on mathematics when I was younger, because I'd have really loved to be a …

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