In a gorgeous animation, Malin Christersson shows how much simpler it is to plot out celestial mechanics when you assume that all the bodies in our solar system are in orbit around the sun, rather than the other way around.
Given the lack of a universal reference point, it's not exactly true that anything goes around anything else -- you can plot out the universe as though any point in it were stationary and everything else was moving in reference to it. But when you adopt the heliocentric model, the number of equations you have to do in order to make sense of things drops by an enormous amount, to the point where it's hard to imagine why anyone wouldn't want to default to this model.
My dear old friend Possum Man told me about a trig class in his Waldorf school where the teacher showed them how to calculate the position of the planets in a geocentric universe, to drive home the real meaning of relativity.
Christersson's graph is part of a great potted history of geocentrism and heliocentrism, itself part of a self-directed tutorial on trigonometry.
Trigonometry - Heliocentrism and Geocentrism [Malin Christersson]
(via Bruce Sterling)
Ariel Waldman writes, “Neutrinos are tiny particles spit out by supernovas that were rumored to travel faster than light. Even though we still don’t have FTL spaceships (sigh), I share with you why neutrinos are still freaking amazing.”
Hugh writes, “These amazing animated shorts on physics feature an adorable, 1930’s style version of Maxwell’s Demon. There are 3 so far — can’t wait to see more!”
Steve Mould explains the physics behind the squeak in “squeaky clean.”
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Maybe it’s entirely because of podcast ads, but drag-and-drop tools like Squarespace have gotten immensely popular in recent years. While it’s definitely a great tool for any non-coders who want to get a small website up and running quickly, managing content with a primarily visual interface can become a pain once you have more than […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]