Amp/volt mnemonic 

Isn’t that fantastic?

A reply queried who is responsible for the drawing and Czerski responded that the lab workers told her that the drawing has been taped up on the wall since everyone there can remember.

I first saw Helen Czerski co-hosting the BBC documentary Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey† with Kate Humble. I immediately started following Czerski on Twitter. Although she’s a physicist and an oceanographer, her interests range across the sciences. You should follow her too!

†Available on Netflix US, but not Netflix Canada, as of this writing. I highly recommend the documentary.

Rest in piece, Stephen Hawking

Stephen William Hawking, 1942‑2018.

I remember my first brush with Stephen Hawking’s work. It was a special Scientific American volume that included his 1977 paper, “The Quantum Mechanics of Black Holes,” detailing his how black holes can emit radiation and evaporate away, given enough time. The book is my sister’s, and I don’t remember when I first read it. I am certain that I didn’t understand most of it at the time but what I did understand made a life-long impression on me. It’s a fascinating article.

As an aside, I never did give the book back to my sister and I still have it. Sorry Sis.

Through the years, Hawking revealed more of the universe to humanity and made it understandable to the non-physicist. I firmly believe the pursuit of knowledge and pushing back the boundaries of ignorance is among the noblest of professions.

Hawking was a giant among those in that profession and we’re less without him.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Politics and stupid

Malcolm Turnbull, 2016

Lord save us from the politicians who know not of what they speak! Today’s proud entrant is Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He seems to believe that if the government could get into all the encrypted messages his people send, all would be well. According to the Independent, he ratchets up the rhetoric:

When challenged by a technology journalist over whether it was possible to tackle the problem of criminals using encryption – given that platform providers claim they are currently unable to break into the messages even if required to do so by law – the Prime Minister raised eyebrows as he made his reply.

“Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia,” he said.

So there you have it. A politician who claims that the laws of mathematics do not apply in his country.

DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Clydell Kinchen.

One drop

I saw this image in a Gizmodo story called “Most Habitable Earth-Like Planets May Be Waterworlds,” by George Dvorsky. I had to steal it … but since the USGS provided the image, it’s not stealing at all.

Take all the water on the surface of the Earth and put it all together in one mammoth drop. The above image shows what you’d get. At first glimpse, it’s less than I expected. Looking more closely, the drop covers almost the full north-south distance of the continental United States. Still, it’s less than I expected.

Image courtesy of the United States Geological Survey.

Sarah Palin, the science wannabe

Sarah Palin ripped into Bill Nye Thursday at a Washington event for a film to discredit climate scientists. According to The Hill, she claims he has no authority to say climate-change skeptics are wrong.

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor; he’s not a scientist1.

The only reason I can think she singled him out is that he’s one of the most recognizable science popularizers right now. He simplifies the science for the regular joe. If she was as much a scientist as he is, she wouldn’t be attacking him at all. She’s be going after the climate scientists directly. But she’s not.

Let’s take an abbreviated look at her claim. To simplify things, compare their education and first jobs:

Bill Nye earned a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, after which he worked at Boeing where he developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the Boeing 7472.

Sarah Palin earned a bachelor’s degree in communications after attending five universities, after which she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman3.

So who will you believe when they talk science?

  1. Timothy Cama, The Hill, “Palin: Bill Nye ‘as much a scientist as I am’,” April 14, 2009
  2. Wikipedia, Bill Nye, retrieved April 15, 2006
  3. Wikipedia, Sarah Palin, retrieved April 15, 2016