Category: Science

What exactly is a day?

How many days are in a year? 365. How many times does the earth rotate on its axis in a year? 366. If you think a day is the time it takes for earth to rotate once around its axis, you’re approximately right, but off by about four minutes. What we typically mean by “day” […]

How fast were dead languages spoken?

A new paper in Science suggests that all human languages carry about the same amount of information per unit time. In languages with fewer possible syllables, people speak faster. In languages with more syllables, people speak slower. Researchers quantified the information content per syllable in 17 different languages by calculating Shannon entropy. When you multiply […]

Star-crossed lovers

A story in The New Yorker quotes the following explanation from Arthur Eddington regarding the speed of light. Suppose that you are in love with a lady on Neptune and that she returns the sentiment. It will be some consolation for the melancholy separation if you can say to yourself at some—possibly prearranged—moment, “She is […]

Average distance between planets

What is the closest planet to Earth? The planet whose orbit is closest to the orbit of Earth is clearly Venus. But what planet is closest? That changes over time. If Venus is between the Earth and the sun, Venus is the closest planet to Earth. But if Mercury is between the Earth and the […]