Expansion leads to cooling. That’s what I was taught anyway. And so when I read that the expansion following the Big Bang caused the universe to cool, I first thought, “okay…” But then I thought some more. “Wait a minute! Expansion against what???” The reason a system cools as it expands it that it pushesContinue reading “What caused the expanding universe to cool? (It may not be what you think)”
Category Archives: STEM
The neutron: unsung hero of the periodic table
Neutrons: The Glue That Holds the Nucleus Together It was a race against time. The Big Bang released protons, neutrons, electrons, and photons into the newly generated and rapidly expanding universe. With a half-life of only 10 minutes, though, the free neutrons rapidly plummeted toward extinction. What saved them? The protons! As detailed by StevenContinue reading “The neutron: unsung hero of the periodic table”
My personal stories on those who inspired me
Several individuals inspired me in my journey to create a new thermodynamics based on the atomic theory of matter. Their collective inspiration manifests itself throughout my book, especially in Chapters 3 and 4 on the science and the history of the atom, respectively. Who were these individuals? Naturally Richard Feynman, whom I’ve quoted before (here)…Continue reading “My personal stories on those who inspired me”
Impactful illustrations of scientific concepts
I took a wonderful one-day seminar by Edward Tufte a long while ago titled “Analyzing/Presenting Data/Information” and was blown away by the possibilities he opened inside my mind. I walked out of the seminar deeply inspired to create illustrations for my book beyond the standard linear timelines and black & white photos of the earlyContinue reading “Impactful illustrations of scientific concepts”
The Big Bang, Thermodynamics, and Silos
“It is difficult to see why the book starts with a chapter on the big bang and nuclear synthesis, which were considered and understood well after thermodynamics was born. For my own taste, I would simply eliminate the big-bang chapters.” – early reviewer of my book Oxford University Press did an absolutely wonderful job inContinue reading “The Big Bang, Thermodynamics, and Silos”
Why the Mark Helprin quote in my Introduction?
Full access to Block by Block’s Introduction—and then some! they certainly share a lot!—is available on google books here (pp. xiii-xx). The Introduction shares the motivations that drove me along with the structure I created to guide me. In keeping with the intent of the series of posts I plan on publishing for the foreseeableContinue reading “Why the Mark Helprin quote in my Introduction?”
Don’t let your friends off the hook. Challenge them to take action on their dreams.
1998 Me: I think I want to write a book.Friend: Does that mean you’re going to write it?Me: (to myself) oh noMe: (with sweating palms) Yes I shared a someday-maybe dream with a friend and she challenged me. “Are you going to do it or not?” When I said, with some fear of the taskContinue reading “Don’t let your friends off the hook. Challenge them to take action on their dreams.”
Gibbs free energy: G or ∆G?
One of my objectives in creating a more effective approach to teaching thermodynamics is to bring clarity to some of the confusing terms and concepts embedded in this field. Initially I focused on the concept of heat by pointing out that there is no such thing. I now turn toward free energy. As a veryContinue reading “Gibbs free energy: G or ∆G?”
Pauli exclusion is not a repulsive force, and yet…
“It’s not a force.” – Professor Steven Weinberg I made a mistake. In my book, Block by Block, I wrote about the attraction and repulsion forces between atoms. For the former, I stated that attraction results from the fact that atoms act like spinning magnets; they contain a positive charge (proton) that is separated fromContinue reading “Pauli exclusion is not a repulsive force, and yet…”
Career decision making – trust your gut
When I give thermodynamics presentations to high school and college students, I begin with a 10-minute discussion about career decision-making based on my own experiences. I now share this discussion with you, both to provide you with helpful and hopefully inspiring ideas and to also seek your feedback. Do your thoughts align with mine? LetContinue reading “Career decision making – trust your gut”
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