Are real numbers real?

In the past months, I have pointed out a few times that real numbers have no reason to exist in physics, if only because our measurement instruments don't have an infinite precision and range. In general, this point, which I believe should make any physicist nervous, does not get much traction. Maybe most people simply … Continue reading Are real numbers real?

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Fête de la science 2007

We spent a day with the family at the 2007 edition of Fête de la science (a sort of national science day). We went to the Valrose campus in Nice, where many experiments and shows presented science in a way that was accessible to children and distracting to adults. Among other things, there were: Remains … Continue reading Fête de la science 2007

How To Teach Special Relativity

How to Teach Special Relativity is a famous article by John Bell where he advocates that the way we teach relativity does not give good results. He describes an experiment now known as Bell's spaceship paradox (even if Bell did not invent it): In Bell's version of the thought experiment, two spaceships, which are initially … Continue reading How To Teach Special Relativity

And the winner is…

My favorite Ig Nobel prize this year is in Linguistics: LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards. A close second is in aviation: AVIATION: Patricia V. Agostino, … Continue reading And the winner is…

Quantum mechanics for dummies

Having just shared a concern about how science is being taught, it may be useful to explain what I think would be a better way to teach it. Here is one of the many ways you can use the layman's intuition to explain quantum mechanics, for instance the famous double slit experiment: Imagine a surface … Continue reading Quantum mechanics for dummies

News of news

La Recherche La Recherche just issued a catalog of preconceptions in science. It is especially interesting in light of the recent controversy surrounding books by Lee Smolin and Peter Woit. The first article is about the following preconception: Science fights second-handed ideas (they translated as "second-handed ideas" what I translated as "preconceptions", the original French … Continue reading News of news