Tag Archives: physics

Everything is turning into iron.

Iron-56, the most common isotope of iron, is what all material in the universe “wants” to be. That is, the nuclei of matter is all gradually exhausting its energy, and iron-56 is the form of matter with the lowest energy per nucleon. Eventually, stars will turn into iron—huge balls of iron. Everything will be iron. The good news is that this won’t happen for 10^1500 years, a period of time so long that we can’t really grasp it. That’s a quingentillion years away. For comparison, there are probably no more than 10^81 atoms in the entire universe, so 10^1500 is just a mind-bogglingly long amount of time. The universe right now is just over 10^10 years old, so you can see that it’s really just a mewling infant at this point. 

Links for May 30th

  • New York: How Not to Talk to Your Kids
    Po Bronson summarizes research on self-esteem, praise, and children. Kids who are praised for their intelligence freeze when faced with tasks beyond their intelligence. But kids who are praised for their effort quickly learn to relish challenges, and their learning improves accordingly. I was definitely in the latter group, as a kid—years of having teachers praise me for being smart (for which I deserved zero credit) left me with no idea of how to handle assignments that I couldn't just breeze through. I'll take persistence over smarts any day.
  • Public Policy Polling: Electoral Consequences of the Rapture
    PPP took a presidential poll to determine what the result of the 2012 presidential election would be if all of the people who believe that they're going to be raptured were raptured last week. In short, Barack Obama does very, very well.
  • Physorg: Electron is surprisingly round, say scientists following 10 year study
    If an electron were blown up as wide as the solar system, it would be spherical to the width of a hair. That's very, very round.

Links for May 5th

  • Snopes: Obama Lends $2 Billion to Brazilian Oil Company
    Heard the one about how the President Obama is spending billions on offshore drilling…in Brazil? Snopes rates it “mostly false.” This is another case of conservatives getting riled up about something that's not true and dates from President Bush's time in the White House.
  • ThinkProgress: Exxon Makes $30.5 Billion, So GOP Votes Unanimously To Give Them Tax Breaks
    All the Republicans and 7 Democrats in the House voted to block a bill that would cut $1.8B in annual subsidies to the oil industry. Republicans voted unanimously to keep them in March, too. Remember, kids: welfare is bad, unless it's going to the world's most profitable industry.
  • NASA: Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment
    I love theoretical physics. Albert Einstein came up with all of these ideas about how space and time should work, based solely on doing math on paper, and as science catches up with him, we keep finding that he's right. In this case, Einstein forecast that mass should curve spacetime. For instance, the mass of Earth should cause the very fabric of the universe to twist and warp around it. By launching some gyroscopes into space seven years ago—containing the most perfect spheres ever made—and observing how their spin drifts, it was observed that Einstein's calculations were spot-on. NASA's work on the project began 47 years ago, culminating in this magnificent confirmation of how the universe works.