I Like Roll Models With Plum Jam

The 90-foot-diameter dome at Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. I visited Yerkes during my trip, simply because I’ve always wanted to see it: beneath that dome is the world’s largest refracting (lens-based) telescope. While the 40-inch telescope was pretty much obsolete from the moment it was built (a 40-inch reflecting telescope is much better, cheaper, and easier to build and maintain), it’s a monument to engineering ingenuity.

I’m back in Virginia, feverishly catching up on everything that isn’t writing on this blog or my book. Fear not, however: once I’m back from another short trip (more on that in a second), my highest priority is to finish the book proposal, which means a few more short book excerpts will show up on this site. Also, though my first Kickstarter application was rejected, I’m working on a second draft; if it’s funded (and I hope you’ll help me with that!), it will not only pay for my driving around the country, but will help defray some of my other costs as I work on the book.

Some stuff:

  • Tomorrow (Thursday, May 31), I travel to Washington, DC to give my third talk at ThirstDC. This talk is based on several requests to speak about the multiverse, but since it’s me, I’m putting a slightly different spin on the topic. If you’re in the DC area, come on by: we’re not sold out yet, but it looks like the tickets are going fast.
  • Over at Double X Science, my friend and colleague Marie-Claire Shanahan explains why we shouldn’t stress too much about how to be a role model for budding scientists.
  • Ed Yong wrote a blog post using DNA—and I don’t mean he wrote it in his own blood, either. (He may be an evil biologist and a mad scientist, but he’s notthat kind.) Fellow physicists, we need to step up!
  • My favorite space probe, Cassini, got a close-up look at Methone, a tiny egg-shaped moon. Even though the moon is only 3 kilometers along its longest side, it’s surprisingly smooth and regular, while most bodies that size are irregular and pock-marked with impact craters.

In case you think my driving around the country has meant I have slacked on writing, you are wrong. Here are some of my pieces in Ars Technica:

  • A new experiment has simultaneously measured wavelike and particle-like attributes of photons, albeit under special circumstances. I like this experiment very much—it illustrates both how hard it is to perform basic quantum mechanics research, but also how good physicists have gotten at it despite its difficulty.
  • Most approaches to quantum computing use photons, but as you can imagine, it’s hard to store photons—yet we need to preserve the quantum state of those photons if we want memory. A new approach uses cold trapped atoms, which can store and reemit the quantum information.

Now, back to writing!

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