The hard questions

The easy part’s the answer

The resolution to the cadence, the final pose of the dancer

The hard work’s dynamic tension

build the elegant clash, the clarity in a question

 

World shaking shift of continental drift

Earthquaking violence from a pace so placid

The twist in dioxy-ribonucleic acid

 

Einstein astride a soaring light beam

Nothing’s as absolute as it seemed

The revelation comes at the speed of light

A universe of relative wrongs and rights

No more can you trust the rules you revere

Time stops, space shrinks as it all becomes clear.

 

by Phil Dooley, written for The Poet’s Guide to Science play.

First performed at Smiths Alternative in Canberra, August 24, 2018, as part of National Science Week.

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Smells like Tauon Spirit

Tom Lehrer’s Elements Song is 150 years out of date – the science and the music (The Major General’s Song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance) are both from late 1800s.

So it’s time for an update, to the tune of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Video coming soon… email me if you want to hear it live!

SMELLS LIKE STANDARD MODEL

A memory for elements, I’ll leave that for the elephants
A 4×4 explains it all, matter, forces, light as well.

hydrogen , helium, lithium, they’re all done
Atom, proton, neutron they’re all gone.
Hello boson, hello lepton, Hello quarks in 3 rows-

CHORUS

Drop the table, Mr Lehrer, Standard model it’s much clearer
The colliders smash up atoms, matter’s only quarks and leptons,
like neutrinoes yeah neutrinoes ….

Quarks in threes are nucleons, But you can’t get a quark alone
The quarks in me are downs and ups, electrons, small, can’t break em up,

Quark charge, one third and sometimes two
Baryon three quarks, meson only two
Electrons’re leptons, neutrinos too, and there are two more rows-

CHORUS

There’s an up quark and a down one,
strange and charm quarks, Top and butt quarks.
Tau & muons are fat electrons, and neutrinos come in three rows

Yeah neutrinos, mu neutrinos, tau neutrinos,

Antimatter, it’s no sin,  just flip the charge and quantum spin
A photon’s light, waves of course, & carries electromagnetic force
Magnetic fields’re no magic trick, it’s just a boson swapping quick.
They’re virtual, too short to see. They bind the quarks in me-

CHORUS

Interactions, they’re all bosons, ‘lectromagnets are just photons,
there’s a strong one, it’s a gluon, weak force W and Z bosons.

In Geneva, found a big one, It’s not special, God’s no boson

Higgs boson, a higgs boson, a higgs boson …

Continue Reading Smells like Tauon Spirit

Wave of the Century

Originally published in ANU Reporter:

The discovery of gravitational waves is the culmination of a search by a generation of ANU physicists, reports DR PHIL DOOLEY, BSc (Hons) ’90, PhD ’99.

An excited hush fell over the briefing room at Parliament House as Professor David McClelland stepped up to the microphone.

“I’m pretty sure you all know by now but I want to say it. We’ve done it,” he said as his voice quavered.

Spontaneous applause broke out, as McClelland allowed himself a smile. Camera flashes popped and TV cameras zoomed in.

“We detected a wave that was generated 1.3 billion years ago when two black holes crashed into each another… the most violent event ever witnessed.”

The announcement was sweet reward for McClelland, an ANU laser physicist who has spent his career working towards this moment.

Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves but thought they were too small for humans to ever detect.

To prove Einstein wrong and right in a single stroke is rare treat for a scientist.

“This is a moment that will be remembered for a thousand years,” McClelland said.

Gravitational waves are vibrations of space and time themselves, one of the most outlandish predictions of Einstein’s 1916 General Theory of Relativity. Yet, they appeared exactly as predicted and join the long list of successes of Einstein’s theory over the last century.

The first success of Relativity came three years after Einstein’s publication, when a solar eclipse allowed astronomers to pick out the tiny deflection of distant starlight by the sun’s gravity.

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Smashing things… for the good of humanity

It’s amazing how liquid nitrogen affects rubber. Turns it from bendy and stretchy into a brittle solid that you can smash into a thousand pieces – a trick that lots of science shows do.

BUT, not so many people know that there is a heartwarming story of community benefit from this seemingly mindless destruction.

 

 

Continue Reading Smashing things… for the good of humanity

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