Why SpaceX Won't Turn Us Into A Multi-planetary Species

Anyone announcing the successful sale of tourist trips around the moon would attract ridicule and...

Rational Suckers

Why do people skip queues, cause traffic jams, and create delays for everyone? Who are these misbehaving ...

Triple Or Bust: Paradox Resolved

A few days ago I discussed the coin toss game ‘triple or bust‘. The game is between Alice and...

Paradox: Triple Or Bust

Today I have a decision problem for you....

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Johannes KoelmanRSS Feed of this column.

I am a Dutchman, currently living in India. Following a PhD in theoretical physics (spin-polarized quantum systems*) I entered a Global Fortune 500 company where I am currently Chief Scientist

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How do airplanes fly? The next time you find yourself in an airplane, look around at your fellow passengers. How many of them would be able to explain to you what force keeps the hundreds of tons  of metal up in the air? How about yourself? Would you be able to explain this applied physics feat to the person sitting next to you?

Wings are simple and straightforward devices, yet misconceptions abound on how they work, and many people carry wrong perceptions on their lift-creating mechanism. The 'equal transit time' fallacy being the most prominent misconception in this area. 
In the previous blog post we familiarized ourselves with a most remarkable device. A device resulting from 20th century science: Albert's chest of drawers. This chest, although presented as a gedanken gadget, is real in the sense that devices with the same characteristics have been built, although none of these take the actual shape of a chest of drawers. In fact, the devices built so far are way smaller in size. They are based not on drawers, but on photons or sub-microscopic particles.
Quantum physics describes a universe that is profoundly mysterious. Einstein, arguably the most revolutionary thinker of modern times, struggled greatly with quantum theory. This groundbreaking new perspective, ironically triggered by his own early work, simply didn't fit his views on physical reality. Would quantum theory not have been as successful as it was, Einstein could have brushed it aside. But from the early days, the theory was immensely successful. And no one around him seemed to have any problems with it. Einstein must have felt lonely at times, but he was convinced enough in the power of his own reasoning to persist in his skepticism towards quantum physics.
Here at Science 2.0, but also elsewhere, a tsunami of articles on the speeding neutrino issue continues to scream for your attention. Their titles often promise a lot of spectacle, yet the truth of the matter is that nothing more than an anomaly has been reported that still is awaiting independent confirmation. A confirmation by another team at a different location, and with distance and timing measurements different from these used at the Gran Sasso experiment.
If on occasions you dream about owning the world's largest particle smasher, I have good news for you. The Superconducting Super Collider is for sale "at a significant discount". However, to stand a chance in beating the LHC in the race for the Higgs, you better act quickly. And uhh... did I tell you the sale is a 'BYOB' (bring your own beam) deal?
Supernovas are by far the most violent phenomena in the universe. Would the full energy released in a supernova explosion be directed to earth, the result would be the ultimate carpet bombing. Carpet bombing in full 3D that is. Every single gram of earth, down to its very core, would receive the destructive power of more than a hundred Hiroshima bombs. Apophis, Elinin, Nibiru, any other possible, highly improbable, or impossible cosmic doomsday scenario pales into insignificance compared to a supernova armageddon.