Last Lectures at SMU: Alien Life and the Probability of Life

When I delivered Parts 1 and 2 of the last lecture of Physics 1303 (Introduction to Mechanics) on May 2 and 3, 2022, I had an inkling that these might be my last ever lectures to SMU undergraduates. I prepared them with joy and love and care. It was emotionally wrenching for me to deliver… Continue reading Last Lectures at SMU: Alien Life and the Probability of Life

Muon Weather: Fun with a Muon Detector, Analysis Code, and Physics

I am spending some time playing around with the cosmic ray muon data from an instrument in the SMU Physics Department. That instrument is located in the basement hallway of Fondren Science Building. I already setup a “dashboard” of information derived from the instrument, available here: https://blog.smu.edu/saso/projects/muon-observatory/. If you want to learn more about the… Continue reading Muon Weather: Fun with a Muon Detector, Analysis Code, and Physics

The Muon: 1970

In 1970, Hall, Lind, and Ristenen (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder) published a paper in the American Journal of Physics (AJP, vol. 38, No. 10) on “A Simplified Muon Lifetime Experiment for the Instructional Laboratory.” Basically, it articulates precisely the experiment at the heart of a similar instrument at SMU. Muons are produced in cosmic… Continue reading The Muon: 1970

The Joy of the Muon

Muons are a gateway drug. They are just difficult enough to detect that they are really not obvious to humans. They are just easy enough to stop in material that, once you learn to spot them, you want to stop them and watch them do what they do. What do muons do? They decay. In… Continue reading The Joy of the Muon

Pi for dessert

Let’s end this day on a note of wonder. It’s Pi Day! (March 14, or 3-14). Pi is an irrational number… it cannot be written as the ratio of two integers. It’s a number that represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its own diameter. It shows up everywhere when you try… Continue reading Pi for dessert

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Physics on Tap

Jodi got invited by the DFW Tap Talks organization to give a short talk for the public. I tagged along for the event. I have always wanted to check out one of these “science on tap” talks, and I was not disappointed! It was a great night of 20 minute talks, one each on physics,… Continue reading Physics on Tap

Honors Physics, Spring 2020: The Physics of Video Games and Gaming

SMU students are invited to explore physics through the lens of creating games and gaming experiences using interactive technologies. Coding, math, visualization, and storytelling combine in a landscape of physical laws to allow us to interact in increasingly realistic ways through a virtual space. Games may break the laws of nature in such a space,… Continue reading Honors Physics, Spring 2020: The Physics of Video Games and Gaming