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.

Dancing on Mars

I ran up the stairs to the Studio Art Crit space. Justine was already rolling out the treadmill, so I climbed to the old running track and let down both ends of the steel cable, one end connected to the … Continue reading
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On Mercury One Day Lasts Two Years

Mercury has the most noncircular or eccentric orbit of any non-dwarf planet in the solar system. This eccentricity may have trapped Mercury in a 3:2 spin-orbit resonance, where it rotates three times for every two revolutions. When nearest Sol at … Continue reading
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Dynamo

Stationary electric charges generate radial electric fields, and electric fields push positive charges (and pull negative charges). Moving charges also generate circulating magnetic fields, and magnetic fields deflect moving charges perpendicular to both the fields and their motions. All of electromagnetism follows. In … Continue reading
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Falcon Heavy

I was supervising Jr IS, but as I circulated around the lab, I watched the clock. Everyone was working quietly. Just before launch, I snuck back to my office and closed the door. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy was surrounded by … Continue reading
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The Impossible Problem

In 1969, Hans Freudenthal posed a puzzle that Martin Gardner would later call “The Impossible Problem”. Below is a 2000 version due to Erich Friedman. I have secretly chosen two nonzero digits and have separately told their sum to Sam … Continue reading
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Electronic Kilogram

The kilogram is the only metric unit still defined by an artifact. The International Prototype Kilogram, IPK or “Le Grand K”, is a golf-ball-sized platinum-iridium cylinder in a vault outside Paris. This year I expect the General Conference on Weights … Continue reading
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Taylor Bowl

On Wednesday, September 13, 1989, I met with newly elected Physics Club officers Tom Taczak ’91, Dennis Kuhl ’90, Doug Halverson ’91, and Karen McEwen ’90 in Westminister House. I wrote in my diary, “first phys club meeting w. officers goes well”. That year … Continue reading
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Newton’s Can(n)on

One of my favorite illustrations is the cannon thought experiment from volume three of Isaac Newton‘s Principia Mathematica. Johannes Kepler argued that planets orbit elliptically with Sol at one focus. Galileo Galilei argued that terrestrial bodies fall parabolically in space … Continue reading
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ein Stein

I’ve been fascinated by aperiodic tilings of the plane since Martin Gardner first wrote about them in Scientific American. In the 1960s, Robert Berger discovered a set of 20 426 prototiles or tile-types that can tile the plane but only with no … Continue reading
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Gossamer Flight

As a kid, I devoured the pages of Popular Science magazine and was fascinated by the quest for human-powered flight: Was a flying bicycle possible? In the mid 1970s, I read that aerospace engineer Paul MacCready had assembled a team … Continue reading
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