The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 4

This series of posts is about what the sky would look like to an observer travelling at close to the speed of light. In Part 1, I described the effects of light aberration on the apparent position of the stars; in Part 2, I introduced the effects of Doppler shift on the frequency of the … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 4

Latin Plurals: Nouns Ending In -a

First Latin scholar: Crispin, I have some fresh lime. Would you decline a tequila? Second Latin scholar: Certainly. Tequil-a, tequil-am, tequil-ae, tequil-ae, tequil-ā. Tequil-ae, tequil-ās, tequil-ārum, tequil-īs, tequil-īs. That’s a very old joke, referring to Latin first-declension feminine nouns. (My, what a laugh we used to have at the expense of those poor Classics students.) … Continue reading Latin Plurals: Nouns Ending In -a

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 3

This is the third of a series of posts about what the sky would look like for the passengers aboard an interstellar spacecraft moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light, like the Bussard interstellar ramjet above. In the first post, I wrote about light aberration, which will cause the apparent direction of … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 3

Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap

I sometimes think that we should spend at least a little time explaining everyday manifestations of physics to undergraduates, so that they can talk about phenomena that appear in everyday lives. How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap (2013), is subtitled Odd Excursions Into Optics, which (combined with the manifesto above) pretty much covers what … Continue reading Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 2

In my previous post, I described the visual appearance of the starry sky for an observer moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light—for instance, aboard a working Bussard interstellar ramjet, like the one pictured above. I’ll recap the terminology I established in that post, which comes from Special Relativity. We call the … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 2

The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 1

This is another one of those topics (like Coriolis effect and human vacuum exposure) that many science fiction writers seem to know enough about to include it in their stories, but not quite enough to get right. So in this post (and an estimated three subsequent posts) I’m going to write about what the starry … Continue reading The Celestial View From A Relativistic Starship: Part 1

A discursive blog on various topics of minor interest