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Tag: physics

The science of tall trees

[podcast][/podcast] Sometimes science is focused on really big questions: where did life come from? How did the universe begin? But sometimes, the focus is much smaller. Sometimes, researchers set out to answer a simple question, one that many people have perhaps asked, but no one has ever set out systematically to answer. A question, for …

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Butterfly buildings

At the end of August and beginning of September, I and my wife and daughter were in Chicago for the World Science Fiction Convention…and a fair bit of touristy sightseeing, including taking in the (highly recommended) architectural river tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Institute. In the little over a decade since the last time …

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Olympic throwing sports

Just in time for the Olympics (and just in time for this science column), COSMOS Magazine has run an interesting online piece by Richard A. Lovett on the history and physics of the Olympic throwing sports. It is customary, in the column-writing biz, to be up-front about any direct personal connection you have to your …

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Auroral sounds

There are few more awe-inspiring sights in the sky than the northern lights. Probably everyone who lives in Saskatchewan has seen them multiple times, and those who live further north are even better acquainted with them…but that doesn’t mean we know everything about them. One mystery associated with the northern lights is the claim by …

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Edison’s Battery

[podcast][/podcast] Thomas Edison gave us many wonderful inventions, mainstays of 20th century life. However, since he died in 1931, you might be forgiven for asking, “What has he done for us lately?” Him personally, not so much, what with being dead and all: but one of his inventions has just taken on new life, thanks …

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The Rapunzel Number

[podcast][/podcast] It’s said that fatherhood changes you. Take me, for instance. Until I had a daughter with long hair, I had absolutely no interest in ponytails. Now I find myself making one every morning (although, thankfully, she’s now able to do her own buns for ballet class—trying to achieve perfect bunhood…bunniness?…was way too stressful for …

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Snow business

[podcast][/podcast] It’s hard to believe that, in 20-plus years of science column writing, I have (as far as I can tell) only ever written about snow once. After all, snow is as much a fact of life in Saskatchewan as sun, wind, and the Riders losing. Perhaps there is a psychological reason for my avoidance …

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Out with the old, in with the new: digital TV

[podcast][/podcast] Technology changes, new ways of doing things driving out the old. Take digital television. In fact, you’ll have to: by August 31, over-the-air television stations in most major Canadian cities are being required to stop broadcasting in analog and start broadcasting in digital. Merriam-Webster defines analog as “of, relating to, or being a mechanism …

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Event cloaking

[podcast][/podcast] It’s just possible you haven’t heard yet that the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, has just been released…although if that’s the case you’re probably also living on another planet and aren’t reading this at all. Harry Potter, boy wizard, makes very good use, over the course of …

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Corked bats, juiced balls, and humidors

Visualizing musical vibrations

[podcast][/podcast] As the classic Disney animated film Fantasia opens, a symphony orchestra starts to play, and the music emerging from the instruments becomes visible as blasts of color and dancing shapes. In real life, alas, music is primarily an auditory rather than visual experience. Although there is certainly interest to be had in watching a …

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Basketball bank shots

[podcast][/podcast] Basketball skills ought to run in my blood. My father won multiple provincial high school basketball championships as coach of the Western Christian College Mustangs, and my brother was both a good player and championship-winning coach himself. But, alas, basketball and I never got along very well. I could sort of dribble (if I …

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