Me in the Media: Two New Interviews

I've been slacking in my obligation to use this blog for self-promotion, but every now and then I remember, so here are two recent things where I was interviewed by other people:

-- I spoke on the phone to a reporter from Popular Mechanics who was writing a story about "radionics" and "wishing boxes," a particular variety of pseudoscience sometimes justified with references to quantum mechanics. The resulting story is now up, and quotes me:

It is hard to investigate the ethereal thinking around radionics, but physics is something that can be parsed. So I got in touch with Chad Orzel, a physics professor at Union College in New York and the author of several popular science books, including How To Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog. This sounded about my speed, and I ran a few ideas about physics and radionics past him, particularly "quantum entanglement," which several people offered as evidence that radionics is possible.

"Entanglement is a very strange phenomenon," says Orzel. "But it's a very real thing."


"People try to invoke this as a way of justifying ESP sorts of things: 'Well, maybe electrons in your brain are entangled with electrons somewhere else.' There's a couple of problems with it," Orzel says.

You'll have to click through to see what the couple of problems are, though...

-- A little earlier, Irene Helenowski interviewed me by email. This went live last week, when I was in California, which is my excuse for not posting it until now.

Professor, how is Emmy doing these days?

She's doing well. She's getting on in years for a dog-- she's 13-- so she's slowed down a bit. But she's still pretty spry, and can about pull me off my feet when she really wants to get to something on one of our walks.

You discuss simulating a black hole at CERN. What is the current status on the scientists' progress with that project?

It's not so much simulating, as trying to _create_ a black hole. The idea is that if you can pack enough energy into two colliding protons, you can create a situation where they get close enough together, and have enough total energy that they form a tiny black hole.

This is very much a long-shot possibility at the energy of the actually existing LHC-- if nothing exotic is going on, there's no way the LHC energy is enough to make a black hole. There are some exotic theories where gravity gets dramatically stronger at short distances, though, and if one of these turned out to be true, there's a chance you could get a black hole. This would evaporate through Hawking radiation almost immediately, spraying out a burst of particles that could identify it as a black hole rather than a more typical collision.

There have been some searches for this in data from the first LHC run, and no sign of black holes has been seen. They just recently re-started at a higher energy (by a factor of two, not enough to make mini-black-holes likely), and I'm sure there will be more such searches. Nobody really expects this to pan out, but it would be tremendously exciting if it did.

Again, click through to read the rest.

And while you're clicking on things, please consider taking a few minutes to respond to Paige Jarreau's survey of blog readers. It's for SCIENCE!, specifically her postdoctoral research on communicating science online.

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