How Long to Walk the Planck?

One of the smallest units of measurement of time is the Planck time (tP). It is the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of one Planck length, approximately 5.39 × 10−44 s. To give you an idea of how small this is, in one second there are more Planck times... Continue Reading →

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For Those Who Thought Their Math Teachers Were Evil

If math really isn't your thing, it might not take a lot of convincing for you to believe your math teacher was an agent of evil. If you were forced to identify prime numbers long enough, you might actually come up with some reasonable proof to support that proposition. Belphegor's Prime is the name given... Continue Reading →

The Size of Smallness

If you have a hard time telling the difference between kilometers, meters, and centimeters, you are really going to struggle with nanometers. At one-billionth of a meter, the nanometer is used to measure really small things: A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick A strand of human DNA  is 2.5 nanometers in diameter There... Continue Reading →

Major Metric Malfunction Means Missed Mars Mission and Millions of Moolah

Hopes were high when the Mars Climate Orbiter launched from Cape Canaveral on December 11, 1998. The robotic space probe was designed to study the climate, atmosphere, and surface changes of Mars and to act as a communications relay for the Mars Polar Lander. For the next ten months, all went according to plan as... Continue Reading →

Not in the Cards to Repeat a Shuffle

Photo credit: By Alan Cleaver (Flickr: Shuffling the deck) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons In a deck of 52 cards, there are 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766, 975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000 possible combinations. To give you an idea of how many that is, here is how long it would take to go through every possible permutation of cards. If every star... Continue Reading →

A Dozen Facts about the 20th President

While President James Garfield tends to be little more than a footnote in the history of the US presidency because of the short time that he served, he was a truly remarkable man and deserves to be better remembered. Following are a few facts about the 20th President of the United States: Garfield's administration was... Continue Reading →

A Billion By Any Other Name….

Depending on whether a country uses the Long Scale or the Short Scale for its numbering system, 1,000,000,000,000 will always be 1,000,000,000,000, but whether you express that number as one billion or one trillion could vary. The Short Scale is typically used by English-speaking and Arabic-speaking countries, whereas Latin countries and continental Europe tend toward... Continue Reading →

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