Hey you there! Do you like learning about how the universe works? But have you sometimes felt that things like particle physics and cosmology are “over your head?” Has that feeling ever been reinforced by a mediocre math or physics teacher? Yeah, same. There is an ancient culture that surrounds physics, an elitist ivory tower gentlemen’s club tradition that leaves the vast majority of amateur physics-lovers feeling like physics is not “for them.” Pop culture doesn’t do much to help when it paints the physicist as some frazzled genius, unable to relate to any of their peers because of their OvErWhElMiNg InTeLlEcT. But that’s not what physics is like, and that’s not what physics is about. Physics is about the universe, and the universe belongs to you just as much as it does to anyone with a PhD. Physics is for you.
The truth is that physics is simple. I don’t mean that doing physics is easy. It’s definitely not that. What I mean is that physics is all about a small number of simple concepts that when applied, explain even the most extreme and bizarre corners of our universe. It’s true that the most convenient language for describing these ideas is math. And the math required to operate at a professional level in some subfields of physics can get wild, I mean truly wild, but most of the time, a basic understanding of algebra is enough to let you appreciate the heart of the material. My hope is that the articles I post here will help separate the elegance of physics from the often overwhelming jargon. There might be a couple equations here and there, but I hope to make it accessible no matter how long it’s been since you took a math class
Along the way, I might assume a little bit of background knowledge, but wherever I do I will try to include links to resources that can help you learn more. Specifically, I don’t plan on including many scientific citations since I the academic literature is generally not going to help clarify anything… If you would like more detailed citations, please reach out to me if you would like more detailed references, I’m happy to provide them. In general, feel free to be in touch if there is anything you’d like to ask about, or if you have any topics you’d like me to write about in a future post!
Image credit @ NASA Juno mission and Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning on twitter)