Author Archives: John F. Lindner

About John F. Lindner

John F. Lindner was born in Sleepy Hollow New York and educated at the University of Vermont and Caltech. He is a professor of physics and astronomy at The College of Wooster. He has enjoyed multiple yearlong sabbaticals at Georgia Tech, University of Portland, and University of Hawai'i. His research interests include nonlinear dynamics, celestial mechanics, and variable stars.

Harvesting Wind Energy for Signal Detection

Wind is free and ubiquitous and can be harnessed in multiple ways. We recently published an article in the Physical Review demonstrating mechanical stochastic resonance in a tabletop experiment that harvests wind energy to amplify weak periodic signals detected via the movement … Continue reading
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Raptor Interplanetary Transport Engine

Why has SpaceX chosen methane to fuel its Raptor rocket engine? Robert Goddard’s first rockets used liquid oxygen O2 or LOX and gasoline. The Saturn V moon rocket first stage used LOX and refined kerosene. The Saturn V second stage used … Continue reading
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First Deep Space Walk

In 1971 during Apollo 15’s return from Earth’s moon, astronaut Al Worden performed the first deep space walk nearly 200 000 miles from Earth to recover external service module film canisters that had mapped the lunar surface. Worden was able … Continue reading
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Found in a Box

I recently ascended to Czar of Physics. (Oops — I mistyped Chair and it autocompleted to Czar.) It’s not my first year as Czar, but this time, during the handover from the previous Czar, I inherited a small cardboard box. Inside I found … Continue reading
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If Apple Designed Buildingsā€¦

When Steve Jobs phoned Pritzker Prize architect Norman Foster in 2009 for help designing Apple’s  new Cupertino California campus, he said “Don’t think of me as your client; think of me as one of your team”. The design that evolved … Continue reading
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Singing in the Wind

Wires suspended above our streets are a late 19th century technology stubbornly persisting into the 21st century. They can hum in a breeze. A wire disturbs the air flow shedding eddies alternately up and down, sometimes fast enough to be heard as a … Continue reading
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Into the Wind

  Last month, on 2016 April 18, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivered a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station and successfully landed its 48-m first-stage booster on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You … Continue reading
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Dreaming Eyes Wide Open

1968. White Plains, New York. My mother takes me to a matinee of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The theater seats thousands and the movie plays continuously all day without commercials or trailers. A uniformed usher with a flashlight seats us. … Continue reading
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Kelly Twin Paradox

Yesterday astronaut Scott Kelly returned from nearly a year in free fall aboard the International Space Station to join his identical twin brother Mark back on Earth. Due to their different spacetime paths, Scott aged about 25 µs less than his … Continue reading
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A New Kind of Astronomy

One of the first things I did as a grad student in 1982 was tour the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) prototype on the Caltech campus about a block from my dorm. It was housed in an industrial-looking L-shaped … Continue reading
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