Archive for the ‘Language of science’ Category

Nothing into something

December 4, 2011

From the New Scientist of November 19th (a special issue on “Nothing”), this cute play on words by Brian Greene in his introductory column (variously entitled “The importance of nothing” and “Nothingness: Why nothing matters”):

When applied to a region of space that by any intuitive, classical measure would be deemed empty, such quantum fluctuations ensure that particles pop in and out of existence and fields fluctuate frantically. And this activity can be measured. Place two metal plates close together in otherwise empty space and an imbalance in microscopic jitters outside and between the plates forces them together: nothing can make objects move. (link)

In addition to pieces on physics, the issue also has one on the history of zero and one on the construction of numbers from the null set.


Scientific metaphors

February 10, 2011

From the NewScientist of January 22, “Farming helps slime mould spores survive” by Bob Holmes: