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bio website lightandmatter.com
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seen Dec 27 '14 at 15:45

I teach physics at Fullerton College, a community college in Southern California. I have an undergrad degree in math and physics from Berkeley and a PhD in physics from Yale. Back when I was doing research, my field was experimental low-energy nuclear physics.


Jan
6
awarded  Yearling
Nov
26
comment A word for “reaching the top of a hill or mountain”
"Summiting" is the most common term among mountaineers heading for a well-defined, prominent high point. Among rock climbers, one often hears "topping out." This is different because rock climbers are often not interested in reaching an actual summit. Topping out would often refer to reaching the top of the technical climbing, after which you might rappel off, or continue unroped to an actual summit.
Nov
18
comment Oil is slippery; rubber is _____?
In my experience, rock climbers universally refer to climbing slippers as being made of "sticky rubber." As a physicist, I would refer to rubber as "high-friction."
Oct
14
awarded  Notable Question
Sep
24
awarded  Autobiographer
Sep
11
awarded  Necromancer
Sep
5
accepted Etymology of “age of majority?”
Sep
4
asked Etymology of “age of majority?”
Jul
24
comment What's the difference between “colloquium”, “seminar”, and possibly other such words?
Doesn't a seminar sometimes go for multiple meetings on the same topic?
Jul
24
comment What's the difference between “colloquium”, “seminar”, and possibly other such words?
And then you have "symposium," which literally means a drinking party.
Jul
23
comment Active vs Passive voice in lab reports, and history of scientific usage
See academia.stackexchange.com/questions/11659/…
Jul
20
answered “Karma is a bitch”
Jul
20
comment What is the difference between a 'rocket' and a 'missile'
Etymologically, "missile" means something sent. It's derived from "mittere," which means to send or let go. Cf. "missive." When you shoot an arrow at a target, you let the arrow go and send it to the target.
Jul
19
comment What is the difference between a 'rocket' and a 'missile'
Even modern military missiles are not necessarily rockets. Cruise missiles usually have a turbofan for propulsion. A rocket is a device that carries its own supply of energy and reaction mass. The reaction mass is what it pushes against; it doesn't push against the air. This is why a rocket can operate in the vacuum of outer space.
Jul
19
comment What is the difference between a 'rocket' and a 'missile'
I don't think "missile" has become restricted to something self-propelled and guided. That's one type of missile, but it's still correct to refer to a thrown rock as a missile.
Jul
16
comment Is “I believe x does not equal y” the same as “I don't believe x equals y”
As a side note about mathematical logic, consider the following statements: (A) x does not equal y; (B) it's not true that x equals y. In Aristotelian logic, every statement is either true or false, so A and B are equivalent. But there are nonaristotelian logical systems in which A and B are not logically equivalent.
Jul
15
comment When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?
Your example contains a misplaced modifier. As written, it states that the sun was walking down the street.
Jul
15
comment When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?
"Whilst" is purely British. It doesn't exist in American English.
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
This answer doesn't make sense or provide any evidence. "In name only" means that it doesn't match what it's supposed to be. "Nominal" in aerospace means that it does match what it's supposed to be, which is the opposite meaning.
Jul
13
comment How did nominal come to mean “within acceptable tolerances”?
The answer says it's from definition 4, but doesn't make any logical connection to definition 4 or provide any evidence.