Category Archives: Physics

Wallpaper Groups

Escher: Alhambra Sketch

I first learned as a kid that “there are only 17 basically different wallpapers” from W.W.Sawyer’s Prelude to Mathematics. (The quote appears on p.102. Aside: this remains an excellent gift for a youngster with a yen for math.) I remember my father pointing out the absurdity of this claim: are all mural wallpapers of van Gogh’s paintings basically the same?

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Filed under Geometry, Physics

Epstein Relativity Diagrams

[This post is available in pdf format, sized for small and medium screens.]

Lewis Carroll Epstein¬†wrote a book Relativity Visualized. It’s been called “the gold nugget of relativity books”. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but Epstein has devised a completely new way to explain relativity. The key concept: the Epstein diagram. (I should mention that Relativity Visualized is a pop-sci treatment.)

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Filed under Physics, Reviews

Why “atomic bomb” instead of “nuclear”?

Why do we (mostly) say atomic bomb instead of nuclear bomb, which is technically more correct? This was asked on the History of Science and Math stackexchange. Here’s my answer.

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Filed under History, Physics