Two Flashy Events!

I subscribe to updates from, which is where I discovered this spectacular movie from Sandia Laboratories of what was probably a piece of space junk re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. At its peak, its magnitude was -14.6, about four times brighter than a full Moon.

The second event is my upcoming book talk about 20th century physics. To indicate that this is likely to be a lively evening, I sent the following e-mail message to my friends and neighbors:

Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), whose work in quantum mechanics explained why the periodic table is periodic, was well known among his fellow physicists for his sharp tongue and high expectations. In a famous quotation, he declared that a research paper was so bad that it was “not even wrong.” Blessed with an equally sharp sense of humor, he became the object of many “Pauli jokes,” including this one that emerged shortly after his death.

In his first meeting with God, Pauli asked for an explanation of the significance of the value of a particular physical constant. God went to the blackboard, and…

For the rest of this story, you can read my new book about of 20th-century Physics, Physics: Decade by Decade. But you can also hear it, plus a number of other fascinating human stories from the book as I present “Ten Decades, Ten Physicists: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century” on September 19, 2007 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Monroeville Public Library. Details can be found at

For fans of the “Armchair Adventure” series, this will be a very different but equally fascinating trip into new territory.

Fred Bortz

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