A Personal Update: The Day To Day Work Of One Physicist.

A brief personal update as to what I have been doing.  There has been much interesting science...

A Simple Way To Assess The Likelihood K2-18 b Host Alien Life. The Odds Are Almost 50-50.

How can you as a person who is not a scientist know if a given claim of having found alien life...

Reported Failure To Reproduce Superconductivity, But Replication Of Apparent Diamagnetism, At Room Temperature In LK-99

Last week it was claimed that a material that would be superconducting at  normal pressure...

Understanding The Great Discovery of A Universal Gravitational Wave Background by the Interational Pulsar Timing Array Collaboration.

What are gravitational waves? What are Pulsars and what does it mean to time a pulsar? How does...

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Hontas FarmerRSS Feed of this column.

Currently I am an adjunct professor at the College of DuPage. My research focuses on astrophysics from massive star formation to astroparticle physics. Born and raised in Chicagoland I have lived... Read More »


Republicans tend to favor big, impressive science projects. While the Democrats have a portion of their constituency which believes, against all numerical proof, that money spent on space science could cure world hunger. This stereotype is only partially true but to the extent it is true the divided government result is great for science. This ensures that there is no constituency in Congress that will be able to agitate for cutting budgets for organs such as NASA, the Department of Energy (high energy physics), the National Science Foundation (so many things) and so on.

The most important service to physics can be revealing that there are problems to be solved rather than solving them.   As the Nobel laureates, prize winners, Alain Aspect and John F. Clauser  did by demonstrating the fundamental difference between classical and quantum mechanics.  Anton Zeilinger who also won for his key work on teleportation and quantum information.  These are kin to the fundamentals of electricity in terms of how they may effect human technology in the future. 
Spooky action at a distance 

The solution to the issue of dark matter and dark energy may be found by way of modifying Einstein's equations of General Relativity.  Working with Shane Larson of Northwestern University we may have found an analytical and exact solution to one such set of equations.  With this we may be able to test such proposals once and for all using the future Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, LISA. Exact solutions to the differential equations that describe fundamental physics are rare. So rare they are sometimes called by name.  As one of many collaborators in the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, Fundamental Physics working group, solving such problems is just what I do.

The launch of the new SLS rocket for the mission Artemis I was scrubbed earlier today due to valve issues.  Rocket engines, especially multi engine systems are very complex and dynamic systems in which any sign of a problem means the best policy is to abort.  Especially before launch.  These engines run on hydrogen and oxygen which must be kept at near absolute zero Kelvin.  As such an engine being the wrong temperature can indicate a leak.  

Every physicist knows how nuclear weapons work. However, where our weapons are deployed, our level of readiness to use them, and what we know about other countries’ weapons and deployments would not be common knowledge. Any person with a completed undergraduate and/or graduate education in physics knows how they work. The details of quantum mechanics, radiation, nuclear fission, fusion, electronics and so forth are in our textbooks. These things are well known to us. Many of us have a good idea of the basic engineering behind nuclear weapons. We know what materials are needed, and what type of precautions are needed to work with them.

Without bringing up anything else Matt Walsh has talked about lately anyone around his age would know about the banning of CFC’s and the Ozone hole. The banning of CFC’s changed how we cool our houses, and how we apply deodorant or hair products. They were used as propellants that were not flammable. They were used as coolants etc.

Thanks to banning them and phasing them out we were able to stop the ozone depletion that by now would’ve made going outside dangerous due to exposure to too much UV light.