Archive | Particles

Ep. 465: Exploiting Interfering Light

Electromagnetic radiation, also known as “light” is pretty handy for astronomers. They can use it to directly and indirectly observe stars, nebula, planets and more. But as you probably know, light can act like a wave, creating interference patterns tto teach us even more about the Universe. We usually record Astronomy Cast every Friday at […]

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Caffeine atom with 3D electron orbitals. Image credit: Ivan S. Ufimtsev, Stanford University

Ep. 395 – Baryons and Beyond the Standard Model

In the last few episodes, we’ve been talking about the standard model of physics, explaining what everything is made up of. But the reality is that we probably don’t know a fraction of how everything is put together. This week we’re going to talk about baryons, the particles made up of quarks. The most famous […]

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Ep. 394: The Standard Model – Bosons

All fundamental particles are either fermions or bosons. Last week we talked about quarks, which are fermions. This week we’ll talk about bosons, including the famous Higgs boson, recently confirmed by the Large Hadron Collider. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Ep. 393 – The Standard Model, Leptons & Quarks

Physicists are getting a handle on the structure of the Universe, how everything is made of something else. Molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, etc. Even smaller than that are the quarks and the leptons, which seem to be the basic building blocks of all matter. Download the […]

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Ep. 392: The Standard Model – Intro

Humans, cars and planets are made of molecules. And molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. What are they made of? This is the standard model of particle physics, which explains how everything is put together and the forces that mediate all those particles. Download the show [MP3] | […]

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Ep. 382: Degenerate Matter

In some of the most extreme objects in the Universe, white dwarfs and neutron stars, matter gets strange, transforming into a material that physicists call “degenerate matter”. Let’s learn what it is, how it forms. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Ep. 379: Fermi’s Atom Splitting

When he wasn’t puzzling the mystery of alien civilizations, Enrico Fermi was splitting atoms. He realized that when atoms were split, the neutrons released could go on and split other atoms, creating a chain reaction – and the most powerful weapons ever devised. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript […]

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Ep. 372: The Millikan Oil Drop

In 1909 Robert Millikan devised an ingenious experiment to figure out the charge of an electron using a drop of oil. Let’s talk about this Nobel Prize winning experiment. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Caffeine atom with 3D electron orbitals. Image credit: Ivan S. Ufimtsev, Stanford University

Ep. 164: Inside the Atom

We’ve talked about the biggest of the big, now let’s focus in on the smallest of the small. Let’s see what’s inside that basic building block of matter: the atom. You probably know the basics, but with ever more powerful particle accelerators, physicists are revealing particles within particles, announcing new discoveries all the time. Ep. […]

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Ep. 96: Humans to Mars, Part 3 – Terraforming Mars

And now we reach the third part of our trilogy on the human exploration and colonization of Mars. Humans will inevitably tire of living underground, and will want to stretch their legs, and fill their lungs with fresh air. One day, we’ll contemplate the possibility of reshaping Mars to suit human life. Is it even […]




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