• Who am I?

    I am Qrystal; or at least, that's my dot-name! Har har. (My name is really Crystal, but that's not as internet-searchable; hence, switching the C for the little-used letter Q.)

    I am here because I enjoy writing. I do this mostly for myself, but I also have a passion for helping others learn things from the things I write. Now that I am done my Ph.D. in Physics, I am stepping away from academic research so that I can indulge in some creative ways to share my knowledge and inspire the appreciation of scientific thinking in others. I am also working as a tutor, which is one of the jobs I've most enjoyed doing in my life so far.


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  • About Physicists

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    Physicists spend a large part of their lives in a state of confusion. It’s an occupational hazard. To excel in physics is to embrace doubt while walking the winding road to clarity. The tantalizing discomfort of perplexity is what inspires otherwise ordinary men and women to extraordinary feats of ingenuity and creativity; nothing quite focuses [...]

    Relativity and its non-paradoxes

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

    The Clock Paradox illustrates how relativity theory does indeed contain inconsistencies that make it scientifically problematic. So says Dr Peter Hayes, a senior lecturer in politics (yes, politics), as quoted in an article at Science Centric entitled “Has Einstein failed physics?” I am getting really sick and tired of people trying to bring down Einstein. [...]

    Answering Questions as a Teaching Assistant

    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

    The following questions and answers are from a course called Physics and Society, offered at the University of Windsor. I am the teaching assistant for the course, and as such I answer the students’ questions on a private online discussion board. The current unit covers the basics of electromagnetism and relativity, and I have included [...]

    Boldly trying to explain spacetime

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    There seems to be some confusion [among the students in my Physics and Society class] about spacetime, which is completely understandable because it’s difficult to visualize. I’m going to review some of the main ideas of it here, hopefully clearing up some confusion along the way. The main quote many people gave in their summaries [...]

    Relativity and Time Dilation

    Friday, February 6th, 2009

    The fact that time isn’t consistent for everyone is a very troubling idea, and even physicists have a hard time learning about it initially. Imagine how difficult it was for Einstein to convince his peers about it originally! He didn’t even have the benefit of science fiction to lean upon for sparking the imagination! In [...]

    Fun with Doppler Shift

    Monday, September 8th, 2008

    IF THIS STICKER IS BLUE, YOU’RE DRIVING TOO FAST! – CafePress Bumper Sticker. A snarky physicsy bumper sticker… what’s not to love? :)

    Electron Spin Visualization

    Friday, September 5th, 2008

    Air on the Dirac Strings, by EVL: Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and posted by evltube on YouTube. Electron spin is definitely a weird property, especially because of the fact that it requires two full rotations to return to its original orientation, instead of just one. This video has some excellent visualizations to help wrap your head [...]

    Relativistic World Line Animation

    Monday, August 11th, 2008

    I’m totally in awe of this image every time I come back to the Wikipedia article on Special Relativity. This animation shows how events in spacetime (the background dots) at various distances (horizontal axis) appear at various times (vertical axis, ticking by at a constant rate) to the observer (whose trajectory in spacetime is passing [...]

    How Physicists Solve Research Problems

    Friday, May 23rd, 2008

    “To solve a physics research problem involves assumption after assumption, approximation after approximation, and those great leaps of imagination people call thinking outside the box. It involves the ability to move forward, follow your intuition, and accept that you don’t fully understand what you are doing. And most of all, it entails believing in yourself.” [...]