Today is 10/23, which is another math holiday in the tradition of Pi Day. On this hallowed day, we celebrate Amedeo Avogadro and his constant, appropriately called the Avogadro constant: NA = 6.022140857(74)x1023 (The exponent at the end is what gives us 10/23, though some scientists do celebrate on 6/2.) The units on this egregiously large … Continue reading Holy Moley!
My regular posting has really fallen off (or, you know, disappeared) these last two weeks because I now have not one but two jobs, one teaching and one writing curricula. This is great for professional development, but sad for my blogging. I hope to work regular blogging back into my routine, but today especially needs … Continue reading International Literacy Day
"Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract." –Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle My first definition of the word "tesseract" was from A Wrinkle in Time, where it refers to a way to fold space, allowing quick travel between very distant points. (You might also know the word … Continue reading Tackling the Tesseract
Welcome back for another installment of tearing down the classic color wheel we all know and love from childhood art classes! Just kidding, sort of. Today we'll talk about primary colors in pigment, following up on my last post about primary colors in light. (If that doesn't sound familiar, check it out or go farther … Continue reading Primary School (Part the Second)
This is really a follow-up from my post about the history of seeing (or not seeing) colors like blue. It's sort of taken on a life of its own, so that what was going to be a nice little post about the primary colors of light vs. pigment has turned into a two-parter. Today we're going … Continue reading Primary School (Part the First)
Occasionally I like to think about the fact that no two human beings have exactly the same experience of color when looking at the same object. Same wavelengths, sure, but there's no way to know what someone else really sees when they look at a bright red barn. Color isn't totally subjective, but it's far from … Continue reading Rhapsody in Bronze
The problem with learning about cool things is that usually there's way more than I can fit into one little blog post. Sometimes I just deal with it and move on, but sometimes I end up deciding I really need two (or more) posts to cover a topic. This happened to to me last week … Continue reading Interval Training
When I mention to people that I love both the sciences and the humanities, one of the most common responses is that it makes sense, since mathematics and music are intertwined. They absolutely are—like any other sound, music doesn't make sense without distinct frequencies, which we hear and tease apart in our own inner ears. Whether … Continue reading Sliding Scale: The History of Pitch
"Time is a distension of the mind." —St. Augustine of Hippo "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." —Ford Prefect This is sort of related to my previous posts on French decimal time, time travel, and even time crystals, but in a lot of ways, it's a totally different topic. Scientific ways to measure or deal … Continue reading Is Time Real?
If you've traveled internationally or (if you're from the US) taken any chemistry or physics classes, you've probably encountered the challenge of converting between unit systems. Even if you've worked with them before, different temperatures, distances, and masses can all be daunting or at least annoying. At least there's one thing that everyone agrees on … Continue reading The Best of Time, the Worst of Time: The Failed French Experiment of Decimal Time