Category Archives: Physics

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” — Muhammad Ali

BOOM!

I love science and I love baseball. So what could be better than this recent edition of “What If?” (h/t to Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue.)

“WI?” is a weekly feature of the very cool XKCD site. It is described thusly: “Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.”

Sort of a super-brain’s New York Times Science Tuesday.

So, this week’s hypothetical is “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?”

Not Even The Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman, Can Throw That Fast

As you know, the speed of light is unimaginably fast, almost as fast as Regina Moore‘s crew of  parking ticket scribblers (and, yeah, I’m sitting on a double-sawbuck scold slip from Friday, so that’s why the Moore Militia is on my mind.)

Anyway, you couldn’t begin to guess what would happen in such a hyper-fastball scenario unless you’d spent the last 15 years of your life holed up working out ciphers and avoiding any meaningful contact with the opposite sex.

Suffice it to say if a human baseball pitcher had the physical capability to accelerate an approximately 3-inch-diameter spheroid made of horsehide wrapped around coiled yarn centered on a cork core to a velocity of around 167,653.8 miles per hour (the speed of light, c, times .9), the immediate vicinity around the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box would be transformed indeed.

As in, oh, say, Hiroshima at 8:16 am, August 6th, 1945.

Hit By Pitch, Batter Entitled To First Base

The happy news is the team at bat now has a rally going.

Who sez science isn’t fun?

KEEPING IN TOUCH

Am I gonna have to make this a regular feature?

Last week I ran a screed about the gossipy, reality-show-like news that CNN has been foisting upon the public during these momentous times.

Wars, the potential for economic collapse, dramatic global climate change events, and even the political fight over women’s wombs all seem to be below-the-fold fodder for cable TV’s most venerable news outfit.

Yeah, It’s Dry — Hey, Did That Magazine Really Photoshop Kate Middleton?

At the time, I didn’t think CNN’s editorial choices could get any more ludicrous.

I was wrong.

These are among the most important happenings and issues on planet Earth within the last 24 hours, according to the Cable News Network of Atlanta, USA:

  • Billionaire’s son charged in wife’s death
  • Shark attacks: Is “Jaws” back?
  • Mash up: Jealousy in time of drought
  • Obamas find spotlight on “kiss cam”
  • New diet drug approved by FDA
  • Car falls into elevator shaft
  • Sex with ex helps her lose weight
  • It may be OK to get sick in July
  • Bobcat breaks into prison
  • Michael Vick: I won’t get a pit bull
  • Tattoos: How young is too young?
  • Stunt driver’s video goes viral
  • Parents, let your kids play
  • Daughter’s in love, Dad feels jilted

Now not only are CNN’s stories vacuous, they’re getting downright creepy. I mean, honestly, “Dad feels jilted”?

Sorta reminds me of Cary Grant as the newspaper publisher Walter Burns, shouting orders on the phone to his editors in “His Girl Friday.” (Please click — it’s the entire movie.)

No, no, never mind the Chinese earthquake for heaven’s sake….

Look, I don’t care if there’s a million dead….

No, no, junk the Polish Corridor….

Take all those Miss America pictures off Page Six….

Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page….

No, no, leave the rooster story alone — that’s human interest.

Of course, that was farce. How, then, to describe CNN?

BIG NEWS

Huzzah. Three cheers. Science has developed yet another weight-loss drug.

Just in case you’re tempted to swallow it, take some advice from a man whose girth rivals that of a cement mixer.

Hi!

The only “secret” for losing weight is eat less and exercise more.

End of sermon.

“WASN’T THAT A PERFECT, PERFECT SHOT!”

Finally, speaking of things that go boom, wait’ll you see this vid.

Apparently, the government of this holy land became concerned in the 1950s about the citizenry’s troublesome fears of nuclear annihilation. And, if we weren’t experiencing existential angst over the end of civilization, we were fretting at the very least that a nearby nuclear explosion might muss up our hair.

Ergo, the feds put together some propaganda to dispel such silly talk.

Like this:

Yup. The five knuckleheads clustered underneath the unleashing of the primal forces of the universe actually volunteered to do so. As in, “Sure, I’ll do it. Why not?”

Presumably, they kissed their wives and children goodbye before they dashed off to work that day.

Of even greater fascination is the reaction of the voiceover announcer, who also was present. I’d swear the man is experiencing an orgasm.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

◗ IU Dowling International CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

Monroe County Public Library“It’s Your Money: Wi$eMoney Game Night,” for ages 15-18; 6:30-8:30pm

◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSummer Arts Festival: Outdoor band concert with conductor Stephen Pratt; 7pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubStardusters; 7:30pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdThe Personnel; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceYou & All the Blind People; 9pm

The BishopMurals, The Natives, Chandelier Ballroom; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryFree public viewing through the main telescope; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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